There are many misconceptions about the use of the number 420 in cannabis culture.
There are some people who believe that it was used by the police department in California as a dispatch code for smoking pot. There is indeed no 420 code listed in the California Penal Code, which is where the dispatch codes are taken from; so this idea can be dismissed as urban myth.
It is reported that the code 420 derives itself from a group of kids from San Rafael California in 1971. The afore mentioned group called themselves ‘The Waldos’ mainly because they chose to hangout on a wall outside their school. The group are believed to have used the term 420 when they had learned about an abandoned cannabis crop nearby and came up with a plan to meet up every day to try to find this mysterious crop. The group had agreed to meet at 4:20pm every day and chose the statue of Louis Pasteur as their meeting point. To ensure no one found out about their plan they used the code “4:20 Louis” however this was later shortened to “4:20”. The term 4:20 or 420 then evolved as a code for teens discussing pot-smoking in general.
The term 420 has ultimately evolved amongst cannabis smokers to the point of legend. One such evolution came from Steven Hager an editor for High Times who wrote an article titled “Are You Stoner Smart or Stoner Stupid”? The article discussed 2 very different cannabis groups “Stoner Smart” and “Stoner Stupid” in which Stoner Smart referred to someone that uses Cannabis as a creative tool to enhance their life where Stoner Stupid referred to those people who get up in the morning and their first thought is getting high and will think nothing about smoking their entire supply or a friends stash without a second though to later.
In the article a question was posed about what 420 actually means, and the belief was that a cannabis smoker should wait until 4:20pm before they started smoking as the belief is that a better high will be attained if you wait until 4:20 unlike those people who get up out of bed and start to smoke cannabis.
From the term 420 the date of April 20th (4 20) has evolved into a counterculture holiday in North America and sees weed smokers gathering to celebrate and consume cannabis around the US as well as further afield. Such events have been held in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park as well as university campuses across the country. These events have also been held in Daktory and Dunedin in New Zealand.
The fact is that the use of 420 in cannabis culture means very different things to different groups; whether it is used by teenagers as code who enjoy meeting up to smoke a joint or by those groups who have been set up to fight for the legalisation of Cannabis.
The main question is what does 420 mean to you?