Published: Fri, April 21, 2017
Health | By Jay Jacobs

The origins of 4/20, marijuana's high holiday

The origins of 4/20, marijuana's high holiday

The term "420" is so synonymous with stoners it even has its own entry in the Oxford English Dictionary saying as much - in fact, it's today's "word of the day". But how exactly did the association between 420 and marijuana begin?

One of the most popular is that 420 is the police radio code for marijuana. So how did the number 420 come to represent smoking pot?

Another is that 420 is the number of chemical compounds in marijuana.

"The makers of the flier thought it was a good idea to turn that around and smoke on 4/20", Bloom told Live Science. Bloom was wandering through the congregation of hippies that would gather before Dead concerts, and a "Deadhead" handed him a flyer that 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".

Bloom wrote about the flier in High Times magazine, and the idea soon took off, he said. The 4:20 time became a code for them to use in front of their unsuspecting parents, and 420 gradually spread from there - possibly via Grateful Dead followers - across California and beyond. What can not be argued, however, is that it was a small group of pot-smoking high school students who made a large (if inadvertent) contribution to the cannabis legalization movement. It's a day for marijuana smokers to enjoy their weed by themselves or with friends. Not wanting the cannabis to go to waste, Newman drew a map for his brother-in-law Bill McNulty, who passed it along to his friends, the Waldos. They made a decision to meet at a Louis Pasteur statue near campus at 4:20 accommodate their school schedules, before heading off in search of the green gold, according to, a website set up by the high-school group of friends.

On that day, however, the Waldos were meeting for a different goal.

No, it's not the code used by police when someone is caught smoking marijuana.

The Grateful Dead lived in San Rafael at the same time as the Waldos, and the group sometimes hung out in "deadhead" circles, even lingering backstage after shows.

"Until then, it was relatively confined to the Grateful Dead subculture", Hager told the Huffington Post.

The calendar may take no notice of April 20, but for marijuana users around the world, it's an annual day of pot celebration closer to, say, Stoner's Christmas.

But how exactly did the term make its way from a local term to a global holiday? "Over the years, it just kind of picked up steam".

Well, it's a day of celebration, when weed fiends across the globe can get together for a celebratory smoke.

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