What’s that on the horizon? Is something burning? Is that the faint sound of reggae music in the distance? Oh, I completely forgot, it’s the 20th of April. Never mind, carry on. April 20—4/20—is the unofficial National Pot-smoking Day in the United States.
The number 420—also displayed as 4/20 or 4:20—has become a code-term used to refer to smoking marijuana. Basically, what St. Patrick’s Day is to alcoholics, 4/20 is to stoners.
420 Meaning: What is 4/20?
There are many myths about why 4/20 is 420. One of them is that 42o is the police code for reporting the smoking of meed in progress. Yeah, that’s false. Apparently, “420” doesn’t mean anything in police code. Some people seem to think that 4/20 is the date that Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, or Janis Joplin died. Very false. A simple Google search can be used to disprove that one. Another herbal legend is that, when the Grateful Dead were still touring, they would only stay in 420 in any hotel room they stayed in. That’s not true, says Grateful Dead Productions spokesman Dennis McNally.
In reality, this counterculture holiday can be traced back to 1971 in—no surprise here—California. A group of five San Rafael High School friends known as the “Waldos” because their chosen hang-out spot was a particular wall outside the school, came up with it. That year, there were rumors of an abandoned marijuana crop hidden somewhere in the woods and these kids were determined to find it. Everyday, after school, they would meet at the Statue of Louis Pasteur on the school’s grounds.
“We would remind each other in the hallways we were supposed to meet up at 4:20. It originally started out 4:20-Louis and we eventually dropped the Louis,” said one of the members told The Huffington Post.
But, remember, this was an inside joke among a group of teenagers. How did it spread across the country? Well, it turns out that the Grateful Dead did have to do with that. When the Dead were touring San Rafael, their real estate dealings was handled by one of the Waldo’s fathers. Also, one of the Waldo’s older brother managed a Dead sideband and was good friends with bassist Phil Lesh. They must have used the term 420 them and they ran with it. And so, history was made.
Check out the best 4/20 memes & pictures below: