There has been a lot of theories about where the term “420” came from that inspired these April 20th celebrations to smoke marijuana. Some say it is the numbers of letters in a Bob Dylan song multiplied, Hitler’s birthday, a police code, or the number of active materials in a cannabis joint. 420 celebrations were because of a group of kids from the 1970s that sparked a global impact.

In fall of 1971, California teens, “The Waldos,” used to hang out by a wall outside of the San Rafael school. These teens learned about a Coast Guard member who planted a cannabis plant that has not been tended to. The group would meet at the Louis Pasteur statue outside of the high school once a week to search for the marijuana at 4:20pm after practice since they were all athletes. They would all smoke pot at Point Reyes Forest during that time. They may have never found that mysterious cannabis but “420” would be used for high schoolers to discuss smoking pot without parents or teachers knowing about it.

The word “420” spread with the help of The Grateful Dead band. One Waldo’s father managed the band’s real estate and another Waldo’s older brother was friends with the bass player. The group would use “420” when they would hang out with the band. When Steven Bloom worked as a reporter for the High Times magazine in 1990, a “Deadhead” at a Grateful Dead concert gave him a flyer that used the word “420” three times. He sent the flyer to Huffington Post and wrote a story about “420” for the High Times, making that word global.

“420” would from now on be the day where on April 20th, people would get together to smoke pot. At the University of Colorado, Denver and the University of California, Santa Cruz, the officials of both colleges in 2009 would unsuccessfully try to push back the popularity of this unofficial holiday and urge students not to participate. A research letter from the American Medical Association said there was a 12% increase in fatal car crashes at 4:20 pm and midnight. Signs would be stolen with 420 like how the Colorado Department of Transportation replaced a Mile Marker 420 sign on 1-70 east of Denver with a 419.99 sign to stop the thievery. Now you know the true meaning of code “420.”

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