We all know 4/20 is the day to get high — but what does 420 actually mean and how did this annual tradition come to be?
Every year on April 20th, people celebrate their favorite herb with festivals, marches and many, many smoke breaks. But how did 420 start and what are its origins?
It all began in the fall of 1971 in San Rafael, California, when a group of students known as Waldos got ahold of a treasure map that supposedly showed the location of a hidden weed garden. Apparently, a Coast Guard cadet and one of the Waldos’ brother, had been planting a small patch of pot in a forgotten area of land near a remote outpost. So, he drew a the map and said the students could keep it if they found it. During their months-long search for the stash, they took to using the phrase “Louis 410” as a reminder of their meeting time and place: 4:20 pm under the statue of Louis Pasteur.
They may have never found the crop, but the term 420 took on a life of its own. According to one of the Waldos, the Grateful Dead had a rehearsal hall on Front Street in San Rafael, California. While watching them play, they’d usually light up, or get passed a joint and exclaim the phrase, “Hey, 420!”
Suffice to say, the phrase spread throughout the Deadhead community and become synonymous with the act of smoking. As cannabis culture become more popularized, the term morphed into its own 420 day, intended to celebrate smoking and weed.