Why's It Called 420 Anyway?

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Why's It Called 420 Anyway?

You've definitely heard by now, but today is 420. April 20th, 4/20... get it? Well, obviously it's the wrong way round (American) but you get the idea.

Funnily enough, the origin of this number being synonymous with weed has a lot to do with American rock band, Grateful Dead.

Back in 1971, five San Rafael High School friends used to hang out by a wall outside the school. From this, their name 'The Waldos' came to pass. Or should that be puff puff pass? Among them were Mark Gravitch, Dave Reddix and Steve Capper. However, they gave themselves nicknames - Waldo Mark, Waldo Dave... you get the idea.

The Waldos had a Blue Dream. To smoke weed and find an abandoned plot of marijuana plants in Point Reyes. They heard that the Coast Guard had been forced to leave them somewhere, so they'd meet at 4:20pm every day back in 1971 in order to find it.


They'd meet at a statue of a French microbiologist known as Louis Pasteur, get high, and stumble around trying to find it.

Sadly, they never found the stash. But 420 was born. The time when they'd meet, get high, and presumably have some of the best days of their lives.

Steve Capper told Huffington Post: "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."

Funnily enough, Waldo Dave's older brother, Patrick, was good friends with Grateful Dead's bassist - Phil Lesh.

Now, this is where it gets a little fuzzy. Probably due to the copious amounts of weed smoking. It seems that Patrick must have spread the term to Phil, who then in turn took it everywhere with him on tour.

High Times (a massively popular cannabis publication) got hold of the term, and it snowballed.


In the late 80s, then-editor of the magazine, Steve Hager, got hold of the term and loved it. He told HuffPost: "I started incorporating it into everything we were doing.

"I started doing all these big events - the World Hemp Expo Extravaganza and the Cannabis Cup - and we built everything around 420.

"The publicity that High Times gave it is what made it an international thing. Until then, it was relatively confined to the Grateful Dead subculture. But we blew it out into an international phenomenon."


So there you have it. It's all down to a group of five stoners who just loved getting high and having a good time. It couldn't have a better origination story to be honest.

Happy 420, lads.

Words by Mel Ramsay

Topics: 4:20, 420, 4/20, Cannabis, Marijuana, Interesting, weed

Mel Ramsay
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