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What is 4/20?

If you’ve ever been on a dating app or have looked for a roommate, you’ve probably seen people say “4/20 friendly,” which loosely translates to “I welcome you to smoke weed in my presence or in our shared home.” 

420 has become synonymous with cannabis consumption, but how did we get here? What does 420 mean exactly? We’re exploring the roots and origin of 420 so you can figure out exactly what it means for cannabis culture.

How 4/20 Began 

In the early 70s, a group of San Rafael-based high school kids who called themselves “The Waldos,” smoked weed every day at 4:20 pm, right after their sports practice, and began the hunt for an abandoned cannabis plant they heard was growing on nearby land.

From San Rafael to The Grateful Dead Crew

Eventually, the group began using the term “420” to disguise their intention for cannabis consumption in school and at home. It was much more discreet than saying “wanna take a smoke break?”

When they started using the term backstage at Grateful Dead shows, the term picked up and started being used by folks within the community as well.

From The Grateful Dead to High Times to The World

When beloved cannabis journalist Steve Bloom went to an Oakland Dead show in the early 90s, he was passed a flyer with a cryptic message that said “We are going to meet at 4:20 on 4/20 for 420-ing in Marin County at the Bolinas Ridge sunset spot on Mt.Tamalpais.”

Once High Times got a hold of the term, 420 became a global phenomenon, and it clearly hasn’t slowed down since the 90s.

Pop Culture Nods to 420

Can you recognize any movies where 420 particularly stood out to you? If you take a look at the clocks in Pulp Fiction and Lost in Translation, they’re fixed on this magic hour. You can also find a 420 nod in Mad Men, during Don Draper’s big pitch meeting with American Airlines that landed on April 20th. Guess what? The following scene is a cannabis scene. In the 80s movie Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Sean Penn plays a pothead and athlete. In one scene, the high school he attends hosts a football game, which results in a win. The final score? 42-0.

California Legally Recognizes 420

In 2003, an amendment to Proposition 215 was passed, giving details on home grow and possession regulations. The Medical Marijuana Program Act was called SB420, or Senate Bill 420. Who exactly was responsible for giving it such a fitting name? This remains a mystery.

How to Celebrate 4/20

The global impact of the term 420 sees no bounds. 4/20 is celebrated at Universities throughout the world, with programming on TV networks, through dinner parties, dance parties, concerts, and more. How you celebrate 4/20 is entirely up to you, your tolerance, and your comfort level. Plan the day around consumption, and prepare with plenty of water, naps, snacks, chargers, and comfortable attire. For a suggested itinerary, check out our blog on The Ultimate 4/20.

It’s always 4:20 somewhere! Cheers to our favorite celebration, activity, and high holy holiday. Keep the celebration going all month long, and follow us on Instagram for a full month of giveaways, competitions, product launches, live programming, and games.