The True Origins Of The Term “420”

April 20, 2015

what does 420 mean?

We’ve all heard the term 420 and most of us know exactly what it means without question. Have you ever wondered how it came to be? Perhaps you’ve heard one of the many false stories about how the term came to be. Some say that it came about because it was the official police code for smoking in progress. Others say that it started as a slang term for “Deadheads”, the devoted group of fans who party outside of The Grateful Dead concerts. Neither of these stories is true but they have been spread far and wide, to the point where most people still believe these to be true. Well, we’re here to give you the real story so here it is, The True Origins of 420:

It All Starts With Waldos

Where's Waldo

The origins can be traced back to a group of marijuana smoking friends and a treasure hunt. A group of friends from San Rafael High School who called themselves the “Waldos” due to their preference of hanging out at the wall of their high school got a tip that a Coast Guard service member was not going to be able to tend to his marijuana crop anymore so it was going to die out. Hearing this, these friends decided to search for this crop in the chances of getting an enormous amount of free bud.

They would meet everyday at 4:20, using the code “420” when they saw each other in the halls to remind them of their plans. Needless to say, these trips and the searches themselves became nothing more than a smoking session. The crop was never found, yet they continued to use the “420” code to signify smoking pot, never imagining that it would become the cultural phenomenon that it has.

How Did It Spread?

Now, if you’re like us, you’re asking: How did it grow to be this cultural touchstone that it is? This is where The Grateful Dead and the “Deadheads” enter the story. After the 60s hippie boom in the San Francisco Area ended, the city was becoming flooded with criminals, hardcore druggies, and con artists. The Grateful Dead who were long mainstays of the San Francisco hippie scene decided to pack up and move to the Marin County Hills. This placed them a matter of blocks from San Rafael High School.

San Rafael High School

The father of one of the Waldos happened to be the real estate agent that was working with The Grateful Dead and one of the other Waldos’ brothers was a good friend with bassist Phil Lesh. Through association, the band started using the code as well. From there, it slowly spread to their friends and fans of the band.

Cultural Milestone

As the term has gained popularity over the years, it has come to be used synonymously with marijuana in several ways. April 20 has become the unofficial holiday for marijuana users the world over. In places with recreational or medicinal legality, the term “420 friendly” has become a popular term when looking for roommates to indicate you’re okay with Marijuana. Heck, I’m even writing this blog in honor of it being 4/20 today.

So there’s the origin of everybody’s favorite time and day. I hope you found this as fascinating to read as I did to research and write it. For more information on White Rhino please check out a full list of our products at our home page.

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