April 20th has become the Stoners’ Holiday, whether you like it or not. Since 420 has become the “number of the bush”, it seems everyone is hip to the reference. But where, exactly, did 420 come from?
What 420 is NOT; 420 is not a police code for marijuana use (its actually a “juvenile disturbance”), it has nothing to do with math, the Grateful Dead, Bob Dylan or any kind of cosmic significance.
The origin of 420 dates back to the 1970s, when it became the time to inhale among students in San Rafael, Califonia. A group of pot heads calling themselves “the Waldos” would pass one another in the halls, exchanging secret glances and whispering “420 Louis!” One of the Waldos told the San Francisco Chronicle, “It was just a joke, but it came to mean all kinds of things, like, ‘Do you have any?’ or ‘Do I look stoned?” 420 quickly became the code word for all things weed related and the sacred time of the light up.
The “Waldos” would meet in front of the statue of 19th-century French scientist Louis Pasteur in San Rafael to get stoned at 4:20 p.m. The term “420” was widely in use by the end of the 1970s. California Deadheads spread it like wildfire from that San Rafael epicenter. Within a decade, stoners around the world had adopted 420 as the official weed reference. High Times magazine first printed the the term “420” as early as 1990, and even bought the website 420.com, locking in the number as the official pot digit forever.
It was only natural for the number 420 to be associated with April 20, becoming the “Day of the Stoned” to anyone who lights up. Happy 420, stonerverse, smoke em if you got em… give one to a friend!