The Origins of 420
On international weed day, we take a look at the story behind the origins of 420 and a brief look into its history, myths, and legends as best as we can see.
April 2020 sure hasn’t played out the way we expected it to last year – when we were all sharing memes about the entire month being 4/20. But as humans, we adapt, and that’s what we are doing. Here at Loud News Net, we are working most of the day today. We are fortunate to be working from home. We’ll catch up with you later on this evening as far as celebrating goes. We hope you are enjoying your day, and happy 4/20. If you haven’t already, head on over and check out our perfect plan for staying at home today.
Origins of 420 – Rumors and Myths
As is the case with much of human history, it’s difficult to pin down exactly what happened unless you were there to obverse the events yourself. The origins of 420 surely are no different. Some people seem to think that 4/20 originated as being a part of California’s criminal code for the distribution of cannabis. But upon further review, that’s the code for obstructing entry on public land.
LAPD doesn’t have a police code 420 for anything. Neither does the NYPD. San Francisco police do have 420 as a part of their police code, but that’s reserved for juvenile disturbance.
Origins of 4/20 – Bob Dylan
Another theory about the origins of 420 that seems to be a myth is the Bob Dylan song Rainy Day Women #12 and 35. 12 multiplied by 35 is 420. There’s a line in the song that says “everybody must get stoned,” so this is where the theory comes from. But Dylan never confirmed the song had anything to do with 420, so that’s likely another myth.
Origins of 4/20 – the Legend of the Waldos
The theory about the origins of 420 that does seem to hold some water is the legend of the Waldos. Legend has it that students from San Rafael High School in Marin County, California in the 1970s used to meet up at 4:20 to toke up. The time of day was perfect because they were out of school, yet their parents still hadn’t come home yet. The legend goes that the Waldos used this unsupervised time to consume cannabis, and then became part of their vernacular in order to discuss weed around unsuspecting adults. From there, the legend has it that 420 spread in the same way that so many things cannabis-related have throughout the years: in the parking lots of Grateful Dead shows.
Grateful for 4/20
The parking lot of Grateful Dead shows is an amazing experience. I personally never had the pleasure of seeing Jerry Garcia perform live, but his band members kept the Dead experience alive many years after Garcia passed. Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters were largely responsible for making the Dead as popular as they were and have been. According to some folks, the same holds true for making 420 a household name.
It’s thanks to Deadheads, beatniks, hippies and music festival attendees that everyone knows what 420 is now. This is according to OG counterculture journalist Steve Hagar. There are people who were lucky enough to experience the first-ever cannabis cups, which took place circa 1997 on 4/20. They had 300 vendors and 20,000 attendees, and the rest, as they say – is history. The Cannabis Cup has grown into one of the biggest gatherings of all things cannabis in the world.
Keep it Loud
We hope this shines a little light on the history of 420 for you. This article is just a briefing, but you can surely go down the rabbit hole and read much more about the Merry Pranksters, Deadheads, the Waldos and so much more – if that’s how you want to spend part of your 420.
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Shout out to Alexander Belinskiy for the free stock image of 420.