The Secret Origins Of 4/20

Top 6 | by Chris Scott

April 20 is, as far as I know, the only date on the calendar set aside to publically celebrate the smoking of marijuana. With legalization looming, who knows how this day will change? But why did someone pick 4/20 in the first place — unlike, say, an easy-to-remember first of every month? What does this date have to do with weed? Put on your tinfoil hats and light up, because we’re going down the 4/20 rabbit hole.

1. It’s A Secret Police Code!

People claim “420” is the secret police radio code used to describe marijuana infractions, specifically in California. Uh, no, it’s actually the police code for homicide in fact and fiction. But while we’re at it, s. 420 of the California Penal Code refers to obstructing entry on public land.

2. It’s Bob Marley’s Birthday!

Nope. It also doesn’t commemorate the day he died, nor the day Janis Joplin or Jimi Hendrix died. Do you know who did have a birthday on April 20? Hitler, that’s who. And that guy was NOT mellow. It’s also the date of the Columbine High School Massacre, but the 4/20 reference predates this horrible event.

3. There Are 420 Chemical Compounds In Cannabis!

No. There are 315 compounds in cannabis. Next.

4. It References A Bob Dylan Song!

Twelve times 35 equals 420. And 12 and 35 are the numbers referenced in Bob Dylan’s “Rainy Day Woman #12 and 35.” No way! Bob Dylan also chants, “everybody must get stoned!” in this song. SEE?

5. 420 Is The Number Of A Bill In American Congress To Legalize Weed!

Kinda cute but untrue. In California, Senate Bill 420 (SB 420), also known as the Medical Marijuana Program Act, established guidelines for proposition 215 — such as how many plants and how much processed cannabis a medical marijuana patient is allowed to have. The specific clerk or aide who numbered the bill as a nod to the 420 tradition has never been found.

6. It’s The Time Kids Blaze Up After School!

Like Occam’s Razor states, the simplest explanation is often correct. In the 1970’s, it became the hour of cannabis consumption among students in San Rafael. Stoners called themselves “The Waldos” (because they liked to hang out in front of a wall) and would use “420!” as a greeting/code when passing others in the hallway. They met in front of a statue of French scientist Louis Pasteur, as well as other spots on school grounds… to light up at 4:20. It spread from its San Rafael high school origins and soon was in common usage. The stoner bible High Times picked it up in 1990 and spread around the world. The rest is (puff) history.