What are the origins of 420 and why do we even care about the number 420?

The recognition of 420 in the cannabis community actually comes from a small group of students nicknamed, "The Waldos." The Waldos went to a high school in San Rafael in 1971, just north of San Francisco city. That year they had heard of a cannabis crop growing in the area and acquired a map that was supposed to lead them to the treasure. Each day at 4:20 pm, after their shared sports practice, they would gather to get stoned and go off to search for the secret cannabis crop. This began their use of 420 as a reference to cannabis and getting high that their parents, teachers, and other squares wouldn’t understand.  

The Waldos weren’t just any high school students; they also spent time running around backstage at Winterland. Band members from The Grateful Dead happened to also be regulars at Winterland, where soon people were saying things like, "Hey, pass the 420" when they wanted a joint. Eventually, this became lingo in the ‘70s rock and roll scene. According to a Huffington Post article, the first time the moniker was referenced in the 1990s was on a flyer handed to High Times reporter Steven Bloom by a Deadhead. The flyer said, “We are going to meet at 4:20 on 4/20 for 420-ing in Marin County at the Bolinas Ridge sunset spot on Mt. Tamalpais.” Once High Times found out about it, the phrase simply caught fire.

So, there you have it. The Waldos started the phrase 420 in reference to hotboxing their car before going on silly adventures through the gorgeous Marin headlands back in 1971. And for the doubters out there, the origins of 420 are also backed up by Snopes.


NOTE: Please remember if you do travel to the city for this event, ensure to clean up after yourself to keep events like these alive—so, please pack out more trash than you bring in.

  Posted: Sunday, March 4th, 3:45am 8 months ago
Profile PictureWritten By: Cara Wietstock

Cara Wietstock is a native Californian living in Washington state with almost a decade of budtender experience and even more stoner experience. While she's not pontificating on the current state of cannabis for Roottie, she is practicing yoga, sipping CBD infused teas and hiking through the Pacific Northwest.

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