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People all over the world have heard the combination “4/20” but it only rings a bell to a few people who are familiar with weed. Just a few of the avid fans of the day (and weed) know where it comes from and all the history that’s related to it. But most of them don’t even know why it’s so famous and what makes it so special. Regardless, all of the cannabis’ avid fans were the reason that the April 20th became the official day to celebrate their favorite herb.

You’ve most likely heard of a few tales and stories from friends or people you just met but none of them were most likely able to “enlighten you” in-depth about the origin of April 20th and how it eventually became the day to celebrate the favorite ganja. Most of the stories can be fun and seem interesting to you but not all of them can bring the landmark holiday a good name. There are a lot of elements that make 420 what it is today.

What is “420” and with what people connect these numbers?

This is not just some random combination of numbers. These three numbers aim to create a sign of the official day that cannabis is celebrated — April 20th. Shockingly, there are a lot of false tales and interpretations about what this day is all about and that leads to a lot of confusion. Here are some of the weirdest stories out there:

  • 420 actually represents the radio code of the police which is used for drug. The 420 is not part of the police, especially as part of some police radio code. It’s not used in the United States and it’s not used anywhere in the world
  • 420 is a penal code in the California section used for certain drug crimes. Section 420 actually involves the aspects of obscuring entry on public land so the number has nothing to do with this or any other state’s penal code.
  • 420 is the number of chemical components included in cannabis. That’s definitely false. There have been at least 315 chemicals (or chemical compounds) that have been identified.
  • April 20th is the day Jim Morrison (also known as Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin) died. Not the best story as it has nothing to do with cannabis and it’s false as well. The day Jim Morrison died is July 3. The association with the herb is not required.
  • April 20th is the day Adolph Hitler was born. Another odd theory that people have passed around is that the monster of a man was born on the same date. Once again no association with cannabis that’s actually true or required.

The truth about cannabis and some insides

Now that the above-mentioned stories prove how many jokes and theories there are about the date, it’s time to reveal the truth and point out facts about the history of April 20th. The real story is connected with five high school students from San Rafael who liked to use the nickname “The Waldos” about themselves. The nickname came from the fact that they loved to hang out near a wall. Only 3 of the 5 members decided to reveal themselves in the public and the other 2 remained anonymous. After they found a map that led to an abandoned cannabis patch in the Point Reyes Forest nearby, the group decided to locate and claim the so-called “magical patch of cannabis” for themselves.

The story continues with the 5 students meeting every once in a week after school to go and search, however, they never found the magical plants. Even though they were unable to track down the plants, (most likely because they were too stoned to remember they did but we can’t really blame them), the group always gathered at exactly 4:20 PM at the odd-looking statue of Louis Pasteur. Eventually, the group started using the term 420 (four twenty) among themselves as a code about their treasure hunt and sooner rather than later it became a common phrase. It was always spread around as “four twenty” and not “four hundred and twenty” or “four-two-oh”. People started to use it as well, just to indicate that they are talking about cannabis or as another way to offer a friend some joint.

The aftermath and how 420 became so popular all over the world

420 literally went from a joke used by the Waldos to a slang for smoking week all over the world. Shortly after their story, the slang became very famous and was spread around with gossips and rumors. The Waldos actually played a big role in the success and familiarity of the slang 420 because of their connections. Mark Gravitch’s father was the real estate manager for Grateful Dead and another member of their group, Dave Reddix’s also had a relative who was friends with a member of the group. Reddix’s brother was actually friends with Phil Lesh who was the bassist of the group. It turns out that not only their social lives but also any of the people backstage at the Grateful Dead’s concert are some of the reasons why 420 became so popular in such a short time. It was the Grateful Dead’s avid fans, who were known as the Deadheads, who invented the 420 as a verb and added the meaning to smoke cannabis. They were also the ones that developed the idea to meet at 4:20 on April 20th to smoke.

The “420” today

Nowadays, the 420 remains an unofficial holiday for cannabis enthusiasts. There are a lot of parties and gatherings that are done mostly held at major universities and generally done without the approval of the administrative power. 420 is all about the avid fans of the herb but it also appears in various contexts in the music and movies as well. Famous movies such as “Pulp Fiction” and the “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” have added the numbers in the background of some scenes for the people just as a sly message to the people who would understand it. In 2003, the cannabis was even legalized for the first time ever in the medicine by the State of California. All of these false and true stories are all about 420. The history of the day and the events that are held in the present prove why it’s become such a big part of the avid fans of cannabis.

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