420 (cannabis culture)


Statue of Louis Pasteur at San Rafael High School, said to be the site of the original 4:20 gatherings.
Observed by Cannabis counterculture, legal reformers, entheogenic spiritualists
Type Secular
Observances Cannabis consumption
Date April 20
Frequency annual

420, 4:20, or 4/20 (pronounced four-twenty) is a code-term that refers to the consumption of cannabis, especially smoking cannabis around the time 4:20 p.m./am and smoking and celebrating cannabis on the date April 20 (which is 4/20 in U.S. form).[1]


A group of people in San Rafael, California,[2][3] calling themselves the Waldos[4][5] because "their chosen hang-out spot was a wall outside the school",[6] used the term in connection with a fall 1971 plan to search for an abandoned cannabis crop that they had learned about,[4][7] based on a treasure map made by the grower.[8] The Waldos designated the Louis Pasteur statue on the grounds of San Rafael High School as their meeting place, and 4:20 p.m. as their meeting time.[6] The Waldos referred to this plan with the phrase "4:20 Louis". Several failed attempts to find the crop eventually shortened their phrase to simply "4:20", which ultimately evolved into a codeword that the teens used to mean marijuana-smoking in general.[7]

Mike Edison says that Steven Hager of High Times was responsible for taking the story about the Waldos to "mind-boggling, cult-like extremes" and "suppressing" all other stories about the origin of the term.[9] Hager wrote "Stoner Smart or Stoner Stupid?" in which he called for 4:20 p.m. to be the socially accepted hour of the day to consume cannabis.[10] He attributes the early spread of the phrase to Grateful Dead followers, who were also linked to the city of San Rafael.[10]

April 20 observances

April 20 has become a counterculture holiday in North America, where people gather to celebrate and consume cannabis.[1][11][12] Some events have a political nature to them, advocating for the legalization of cannabis.

North American observances have been held at the following locations:

The growing size of the unofficial event at UC Santa Cruz caused the Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs to send an e-mail to parents in 2009 stating: "The growth in scale of this activity has become a concern for both the university and surrounding community."[23]

Events have also occurred in London, United Kingdom, in Hyde Park;[24]and Dunedin, New Zealand, at the University of Otago.[sources 1]


Signs bearing the number "420" have been frequently stolen. In Colorado, the Colorado Department of Transportation replaced the Mile Marker 420 sign on I-70 east of Denver with one reading 419.99 in an attempt to stop the thievery.[31] The Idaho Department of Transportation replaced the Mile Marker 420 sign on U.S. Highway 95, just south of Coeur d'Alene, with Mile Marker 419.9.[32] That marker was eventually stolen as well, leading ITD to just post the marker with spray paint on the pavement. In Goodhue County, Minnesota, officials have changed "420 St" street signs to "42x St".[33]

In 2003, California Senate Bill 420 was introduced to regulate medical marijuana use, in deliberate reference to the status of 420 in marijuana culture.

See also

Reference notes


  1. 1 2 King, Matt (April 24, 2007). "Thousands at UCSC burn one to mark cannabis holiday". Santa Cruz Sentinel. Archived from the original on April 26, 2007.
  2. "Stoner Chic Traces Origin To San Rafael – Snickering high schoolers brought `420' into lexicon". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved April 4, 2012.
  3. 1 2 McKinley, Jesse (April 19, 2009). "Marijuana Advocates Point to Signs of Change". The New York Times. Archived from the original on December 18, 2010. Retrieved January 23, 2011. Mr. Hager said the significance of April 20 dates to a ritual begun in the early 1970s in which a group of Northern California teenagers smoked cannabis every day at 4:20 p.m. Word of the ritual spread and expanded to a yearly event in various places. Soon, cannabis aficionados were using "420" as a code for smoking and using it as a sign-off on flyers for concerts where the drug would be plentiful. In recent years, the April 20 events have become so widespread that several colleges have discouraged students from participating.
  4. 1 2 High Times (21 March 2012). The Official High Times Cannabis Cookbook: More Than 50 Irresistible Recipes That Will Get You High. Chronicle Books. pp. 97–. ISBN 978-1-4521-0133-0. Retrieved 19 April 2012.
  5. "High Expectations: Marketers Hope for Buzz on 4/20". The Wall Street Journal. April 20, 2012.
  6. 1 2 Grim, Ryan (April 20, 2009). "What 420 Means: The True Story Behind Stoners' Favorite Number". The Huffington Post. Retrieved January 23, 2011.
  7. 1 2 Grim, Ryan (April 20, 2010). "420 Meaning: The True Story Of How April 20 Became 'Weed Day'". The Huffington Post. Retrieved January 23, 2011.
  8. Alyssa Pereira (April 20, 2016). "Local originators of term 420 solve 45-year-old mystery". San Francisco Chronicle.
  9. Edison, Mike (2009-05-12). I Have Fun Everywhere I Go: Savage Tales of Pot, Porn, Punk Rock, Pro Wrestling, Talking Apes, Evil Bosses, Dirty Blues, American Heroes, and the Most Notorious Magazines in the World. Faber & Faber. pp. 207–. ISBN 978-0-86547-903-6. Retrieved 20 April 2013.
  10. 1 2 "Stoner Smart, or Stoner Stupid?". High Times. 2008. Retrieved 2012-04-20.
  11. Halnon, Karen Bettez (11 April 2005). "The power of 420".
  12. "420 event lists".
  13. "A Huge Turn Out for 420 Day on Hippie Hill in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park " San Francisco Citizen". Sfcitizen.com. 2010-04-20. Archived from the original on 30 April 2011. Retrieved 2011-04-20.
  14. CU's 4/20 pot smoke-out draws crowd of 10,000 : CU News.
  15. "Medical marijuana expected to give momentum to CU-Boulder 4/20 event – Boulder Daily Camera". Dailycamera.com. Archived from the original on 30 April 2011. Retrieved 2011-04-20.
  16. "Pot activists to light up on Hill". Cnews.canoe.ca. Retrieved 2011-04-20.
  17. "Ottawa's Parliament Hill just one site for planned 4/20 protest". Digitaljournal.com. Archived from the original on 11 May 2011. Retrieved 2011-04-20.
  18. "420 Day- Cannabis Festival". samesun.com Samesun Nation Travel Blog. Retrieved 2011-04-20.
  19. "Canada's marijuana activists unite against American-style drug laws – 420 vote mobs to be held in over 10 cities across Canada on April 20th". newswire.ca CNW Group. Retrieved 2011-04-20.
  20. "Hundreds of Tokers Flood Alberta Legislature in Protest to Push for Legalization of Marijuana". Retrieved 2013-04-22.
  21. Hall, Neal (May 2, 2009). "Thousands of marijuana smokers gather in Vancouver to celebrate "420"". The Vancouver Sun. Retrieved September 30, 2009.
  22. Johnson, Lisa (20 April 2016). "4/20 pot rally draws tens of thousands in Vancouver". CBC News. Retrieved 20 April 2016.
  23. Bookwalter, Genevieve (7 April 2009). "Mom and Dad now know about '4/20'". Santa Cruz Sentinel. Archived from the original on 10 April 2009. Retrieved 20 April 2013.
  24. Gayle, Damien (2016-04-21). "Police make 20 arrests at cannabis picnic in London's Hyde Park". the Guardian. Retrieved 2016-05-05.
  25. Porteous, Debbie (June 12, 2008). "Police swoop on cannabis protest". Otago Daily Times. Retrieved March 31, 2009.
  26. "420 Protest". Channel 9 News Dunedin. February 22, 2008. Archived from the original on 22 October 2008. Retrieved October 7, 2008.
  27. Porteous, Debbie (July 11, 2008). "Campus arrests follow marijuana complaints (+ video)". Otago Daily Times. Retrieved April 22, 2009.
  28. Rudd, Allison (September 26, 2008). "Moore's appeal rejected". Otago Daily Times. Retrieved April 22, 2009.
  29. Rudd, Allison (July 22, 2008). "Lack of quorum foils cannabis vote". Otago Daily Times. Retrieved April 22, 2009.
  30. Rudd, Allison (September 20, 2008). "OUSA general meeting promises controversy". Otago Daily Times. Retrieved April 22, 2009.
  31. "State alters 420 MM sign to thwart thieves". KUSA-TV. Retrieved January 11, 2014.
  32. "Idaho replaces mile marker 420 with 419.9 to thwart stoners". KTVB. Retrieved August 18, 2015.
  33. "County finds fix for missing 420 signs". Post-Bulletin. Retrieved July 20, 2015.

External links

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