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The history of where “420” comes from

by | Nov 21, 2021

*Originally published to our email newsletter on 10/17/2021*

When I was in college, every year on April 20th at 4:20 PM, a large part of the student body would congregate in “The Quad” on campus for an unofficial community smokefest.

A few weeks prior to the celebration, flyers would mysteriously start popping up on campus that read:

“Chill with your Buds on the Green at 4:20 on 4/20”

Campus police, or ‘Public Safety’ as we knew them, would look the other way for a solid 30-40 minutes before they would begin politely dispersing us.  Hilariously, one year a campus tour of perspective high school students & their parents came by while we were celebrating the holiday.

Where did this idea of “420” come from?  And, how did it become universally recognized as a date & time to smoke weed?

While specific details differ, the common story starts in 1971 with a group of five high school friends in San Rafael, CA.  These friends called themselves “The Waldos”. 

The claim goes that The Waldos became aware of an abandoned cannabis patch nearby.  They planned to go check it out, and since school didn’t let out until 3:10 and most of The Waldos were involved in after school athletics programs, they planned on meeting at 4:20pm to start their adventure.  When they didn’t find the patch on their first attempt, they re-convened again the next day at 4:20pm.  And again the next day.  Then the day after that… and so on.

Soon, the friends started using “420” as their internal lingo to discreetly talk about getting high without their parents or teachers catching on.  Over time, the term spread.  The Grateful Dead, High Times magazine, and the Cannabis Cup were also instrumental in the spread of “420”, and all had ties to San Rafael, CA where “The Waldos” had started the whole thing.  By 2002, “420” merchandise was proliferating among head shops everywhere.

420 Celebration Ceremonies like the one enjoyed by my friends and I in college have spread far & wide.  One of the first such ceremonies was at the University of Boulder in Colorado.  Their annual celebration quickly got so big that the University took to shutting down the school on April 20th in an attempt to stop it.

Pot smokers in Colorado, were so enamored with the “420” number, that the state had to remove the “420” mile marker on I-70 and replace it with mile marker 419.99 because it kept getting stolen.

It only took five students to begin the popularization of this term that played a significant role in overcoming decades of propaganda against cannabis.

Changing peoples minds was the first step. 

Now, the opening of the market to allow entrepreneurs and consumers to interact without fear of criminal persecution is finally happening.  One of the ways the market has been opened is through the development of Delta-8 THC products.

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