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How did April 20th become the Christmas of weed?

Whether you are a cannabis supporter or not, you've probably heard about ‘420’. You may already know that the April 20th, referred to as 420 (four-twenty), is a worldwide Christmas of weed on which cannabis advocates celebrate its virtues and merits.

You’ve possibly heard several stories about the origins of this term, however, you might not be aware of its real history - where it originated from, and why is it called ‘420’. The April 20 high holiday (pun intended) is no longer just a quirk of a small group of stoners - it’s now a full-fledged consumer event celebrated by millions around the world and which defines the industry.

Here’s the real story behind 420 and some interesting facts about it. But first, let’s get to know some myths related to it.

The myths about 420

1) 420 isn’t a police radio code

Some people say that 420 was the police radio code in California that was used to denote any illegal activities related to cannabis. However, this is not the truth. 420 has never been used as a police code for smoking pot or possessing weed. This is factual for California as well the other parts of the United States.

2) It is not the number of chemicals in cannabis

Another rumour that prevails is that 420 is the number of chemicals present in the cannabinoid plant. In reality, there are different numbers of active chemicals in various strains of cannabis. Nonetheless, this number consisting of terpenes and other compounds could possibly be 420, but it’s actually closer to 500.

3) 420 is not a teatime either

Some people assume that 420 is the customary teatime in Holland – famous for their ‘coffee shops’ selling cannabis. But this does not hold any truth to it. As a matter of fact, there is no allocated teatime in Holland and no concurrence of teatime at 4:20.

4) Is ‘420’ a date referring to celebrity birth or death?

Candidly, no! Interestingly, Adolf Hitler’s birthday falls on April 20th, but that’s definitely not related. We don’t think he smoked! Also, 420 has been long denoted to as the birth or death anniversary dates of certain celebrities. Bob Marley’s son was born on April 20th, 1971. But these facts are neither related to the 420 tradition.

Additionally, some people believe that ‘420’ overlaps the birth date of Bob Marley or death anniversary of Kurt Cobain, Janis Joplin or Jimi Hendrix – but these are not true either.

5) Is April 20th cannabis plantation time?

Another myth that prevails is that April 20th or 4.20 pm is the best time to cultivate cannabis. In truth, the type of cannabis harvest produced varies depending upon the region and the environment it is grown in. Moreover, the quality of cannabis differs following the growing method.

The truth behind the origin of 420

The term ‘420’ was first used in 1971 when secondary school students in Northern California set out on an adventure. The group of students known as ‘Waldos’; all cannabis advocates, found out a map showing an area where cannabis was planted. The pupils decided to meet up at 4.20 pm after school, smoke cannabis and then set out on their voyage.

Apparently, their mission was not a success. However, they decided to meet daily at the same time; 4.20 pm, to light cannabis. Later, they started to use ‘420’ as a code word for smoking weed. Soon, this was used to refer to cannabis in their school. So it’s kind of like a ‘Dead Poets Society’ for smoking weed!

Soon after, the term ‘420’ achieved recognition worldwide. One of the members of Waldos, Mark Gravitch’s father, used to look after Grateful Dead’s real estate dealings. A sibling of one more waldos member used to handle Dead’s sideband. These acquaintances with waldos made Grateful Dead’s team familiar with ‘420’. They found it interesting and began to use.

It was Grateful Dead’s reputation which made ‘420’ widely known among the masses. Its familiarity further skyrocketed when High Times magazine published a story related to Waldos. The magazine also issued another article which confirmed the use of 4:20 as ‘the hour’ to light cannabis. It is since then that April 20th is relived every year by the supporters, world over. They gather at one place to smoke pot and also give it away in areas where it was legal.


Some interesting facts about 420

Fact # 1 

Interestingly, California’s senate bill, ‘Medical Marijuana Program Act’ is referred to as SB 420. Some people think that it is intentionally named so.

Fact # 2
Technically, ‘420’ does not exist for most of the rest of the world because their pattern of writing dates is D/M/Y, so April 20th in 20/4 instead of 4/20.

Fact # 3
Have you ever noticed that in a hotel a certain room number is missing? If you see carefully, you will find out that they skip the number 420 from their rooms. This is done to steer clear of any inconvenience caused by the sign ‘420’. They fear that the sign might get stolen or activists appear and smoke weed in that room.

Fact # 4
In the year 2012, in one of the episodes of the program The Price is Right, one contestant appeared to repetitively bid $420 as a probable sale price of products. To him, his time on the stage, be it just 15 minutes, was an opportunity for him to demonstrate his commitment to cannabis. It was only once that he slightly stepped away from it to $1420.