420, 4:20, or 4/20 (pronounced “four-twenty”) is a code-term that refers to the consumption of cannabis, especially smoking cannabis around the time 4:20 p.m./a.m. (or 16:20 in some European nations) and smoking and celebrating cannabis on the date April 20 (which is 4/20 in U.S. form).
The origin of the term 420, celebrated around the world by pot smokers every April 20th, has long been obscured by the clouded memories of the folks who made it a phenomenon. Depending on who you ask, or their state of inebriation, there are as many varieties of answers as strains of medical bud in California. It’s the number of active chemicals in marijuana. It’s teatime in Holland. It has something to do with Hitler’s birthday. It’s those numbers in that Bob Dylan song multiplied.
In reality it was more of a New Age Where’s Waldo?”
A group of five San Rafael High School friends known as the Waldos – by virtue of their chosen hang-out spot, a wall outside the school – are credited with coining the term in 1971. The Waldos were all athletes and agreed to meet at the statue of Louis Pasteur outside the school at 4:20, after practice, to begin the hunt.
The Waldos also have proof that they used the term in the early ‘70s in the form of an old 420 flag and numerous letters with 420 references and early ‘70s post marks. They also have a story.
It goes like this: One day in the Fall of 1971 – harvest time – the Waldos got word of a Coast Guard service member who could no longer tend his plot of marijuana plants near the Point Reyes Peninsula Coast Guard station. A treasure map in hand, the Waldos decided to pluck some of this free bud.
The Waldos were all athletes and agreed to meet at the statue of Louis Pasteur outside the school at 4:20, after practice, to begin the hunt.
There was Waldo Steve, Waldo Dave and Dave’s older brother, Patrick: “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,” Waldo Steve