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Why “420” became associated with weed | What does 420 mean?

April 20th, commonly known as 420, has become an unofficial holiday for marijuana enthusiasts. While the origins of this celebration have been subject to various theories, it is not related to police codes or Bob Marley’s birthday. The true story behind 420 dates back to the 1970s in Marin County, where a group of teenagers known as “The Waldos” would meet near a statue of a chemist at San Rafael High School. This blog post explores the fascinating history of 420 and how it became synonymous with weed.

The Birth of 420:

In the 1970s, a group of teenagers from San Rafael High School in Marin County, California, called themselves “The Waldos.

They would meet at 4:20 PM near a statue of a chemist on their school campus. The Waldos used this time and location as a meeting point to search for an abandoned cannabis crop rumored to be hidden in the nearby Point Reyes Forest. Although they never found the crop, their meetings at 4:20 PM became a regular occurrence.

The Spread of 420:

One of the members of The Waldos later became a roadie for the Grateful Dead, a popular band at the time. The band’s influence helped spread the term “420” among their fans.

The Waldos would hand out flyers at Grateful Dead concerts, sharing information about their 4:20 PM meetings. These flyers acted as a form of analog group chat, connecting like-minded individuals who shared an interest in cannabis.

The High Times Connection:

In 1991, a writer for High Times magazine, a publication known for its coverage of cannabis culture, came across one of The Waldos’ flyers. Intrigued by the term “420,” the writer published an article about it, further popularizing the term. High Times magazine’s readership, consisting of cannabis enthusiasts, embraced the term, and it quickly gained traction within the marijuana community.

420 Today:

Since the publication of the High Times article, 420 has become synonymous with marijuana. It has transcended its origins in Marin County and has become a global phenomenon. Today, April 20th is celebrated by marijuana enthusiasts worldwide, with events, festivals, and gatherings taking place to commemorate the day.


The true origins of 420 lie in the meetings of The Waldos, a group of teenagers from Marin County, California, who used the term as a code for their cannabis-related activities. Through their connection to the Grateful Dead and the subsequent coverage in High Times magazine, 420 gained widespread recognition and became a symbol of marijuana culture.

While the legalization of marijuana in many states has changed the landscape, the legacy of 420 as a celebration of cannabis continues to thrive.

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