The Origins Of 420 – What Does 420 Mean
A group of people in San Rafael, California, calling themselves the Waldos because “their chosen hang-out spot was a wall outside the school”, used the term in connection with a fall 1971 plan to search for an abandoned cannabis crop that they had learned about. The Waldos designated the Louis Pasteur statue on the grounds of San Rafael High School as their meeting place, and 4:20 p.m. as their meeting time. The Waldos referred to this plan with the phrase “4:20 Louis”.
Several failed attempts to find the crop eventually shortened their phrase to simply “4:20″, which ultimately evolved into a codeword that the teens used to mean marijuana-smoking in general. So… What does 420 mean? Nothing as of yet, except to this group of teens.
One day Steven Hager of High Times did a story about the Waldos which took the term to “mind-boggling, cult-like extremes” and suppressed all other stories about the origin. Hager wrote “Stoner Smart or Stoner Stupid?” in which he called for 4:20 p.m. to be the socially accepted hour of the day to consume cannabis. He attributes the early spread of the phrase to Grateful Dead followers, who were also linked to the city of San Rafael.
So What Does 420 Mean?
420, 4:20, or 4/20 (pronounced four-twenty) is a code-term that refers to the consumption of cannabis and by extension, as a way to identify oneself with cannabis culture or simply cannabis itself. Observances based on the number 420 include smoking cannabis around the time 4:20 p.m., as well as smoking and celebrating cannabis on the date April 20 (4/20 in U.S. form)
April 20 has become a counterculture holiday in North America, where people gather to celebrate and consume cannabis. Some events have a political nature to them, advocating for the legalization of cannabis.
Where Did That 420 Sign Go?
Signs bearing the number “420” have been frequently stolen. In Colorado, the Colorado Department of Transportation replaced the Mile Marker 420 sign on I-70 east of Denver with one reading 419.99 in an attempt to stop the thievery. The Idaho Department of Transportation replaced the Mile Marker 420 sign on U.S. Highway 95, just south of Coeur d’Alene, with Mile Marker 419.9. In Goodhue County, Minnesota, officials have changed “420 St” street signs to “42x St”.