Every year—known as "420"—has become something of an unofficial holiday. Many cannabis users mark the day by smoking weed. But what is the history behind this celebratory day for marijuana lovers and its 420 moniker?
The origins of the term "420" date back to the 1970s. A group of five high school teenagers in California used to meet at 4:20 p.m. each week in search of a cannabis plant that was supposedly left behind in a forest by a U.S. Coast Guard member who could no longer tend to the crop. They met at 4:20 p.m. as they were all athletes and had sports practice to attend before that time.
The group was nicknamed "the Waldos" as they used to hang out by a wall outside their high school in San Rafael. The Waldos met at least once a week at the Louis Pasteur statue outside their school to scour the Point Reyes Forest nearby using a treasure map that some say was provided by the plant owner himself. "We would remind each other in the hallways we were supposed to meet up at 4:20. It originally started out 4:20-Louis and we eventually dropped the Louis. "We would meet at 4:20 and get in my old '66 Chevy Impala and, of course, we would smoke instantly and smoke all the way out to Pt. Reyes and smoke the entire time we were out there. We did it week after week," Capper said, adding "We never actually found the patch."
While they weren't successful in finding the hidden cannabis plant, the Waldos managed to introduce a new lasting code word for weed smokers. "I could say to one of my friends, I'd go, 420, and it was telepathic. He would know if I was saying, 'Hey, do you wanna go smoke some?' Or, 'Do you have any?' Or, 'Are you stoned right now?' It was kind of telepathic just from the way you said it." Our teachers didn't know what we were talking about. Our parents didn't know what we were talking about.
The use of the term spread further thanks to the group's connection to The Grateful Dead. The legendary rock band was based in the Marin County hills at the time, just blocks from the high school that the Waldos attended. The father of Mark Gravitch (one of the Waldos) managed real estate for the band, while the brother of Dave Reddix (another Waldos member) managed a Grateful Dead sideband. The brother was also good friends with Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh.
The Grateful Dead practiced at a rehearsal hall in San Rafael, California: "So we used to go hang out and listen to them play music and get high while they're practicing for gigs,"
"But I think it's possible my brother Patrick might have spread it through Phil Lesh. And me, too, because I was hanging out with Lesh and his band [as a roadie] when they were doing a summer tour my brother was managing. "We'd go with Gravitch's dad, who was a hip dad from the '60s. There was a place called Winterland and we'd always be backstage running around or onstage and, of course, we're using those phrases.
"When somebody passes a joint or something, 'Hey, it’s 420.' So it started spreading through that community,"
Happy 420 to all of you from MountainTop Dispensary! #knowyoursource