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Honoring 420: A Crash Course on the History of 420 

Many of us love cannabis and celebrate 4:20 am, pm, and date on the calendar. But how many know where the celebration of 420 came from? In this one, I want to honor the cannabis lovers holiday, with a crash course on the history of 420.

420 is so lit that even Times Magazine wrote about it back in 2016. In that piece, I learned that: 

Some say 420 is code among police officers for ‘marijuana smoking in progress. Some note 4/20 is also Adolf Hitler’s birthday. And some go as far as to cite Bob Dylan’s song ‘Rainy Day Women # 12 & 35’ because 12 multiplied by 35 equals 420.”

But what if none of those are the reason and the true reason rests with teenagers? 

420 and the Waldos

Who: Steve Capper, Dave Reddix, Jeffrey Noel, Larry Schwartz, and Mark Gravich 

What: Cannabis

Why: Why not?

When: 4:20p

Where: Marin County, CA

The story goes something like: the Waldos attended San Rafael High School, and everyday at 4:20p, the Waldos would meet up by the campus statue to smoke. They said it was because by that time, after school activities were usually done. Wonder what Waldo means? It’s because they would meet at the wall, post up, and partake. Before the spark of the joint they would say to each other “4:20”.

Steve Capper, one of the Waldos said: “We would remind each other in the hallways we were supposed to meet up at 4:20. It originally started out 4:20-Louis, and we eventually dropped the Louis.

A Crash Course on the History of 420

420 and Progression- Embracing 420

420 is celebrated so much and holds such high honor that students at Universities like: University of Colorado at Boulder and University of California- Santa Cruz have big celebrations. Legal means legal and so at 4:20 on 420, there are clouds covering the area in honor of 420. says: 

Today, the unofficial holiday is celebrated worldwide. Officials at the University of Colorado at Boulder and the University of California, Santa Cruz (two colleges that boast of having the biggest “smoke-outs”) attempted to push back on the growing popularity of the festivities among their students in 2009. They encouraged (or pleaded with) their students to not participate—to no avail.”

Even in law, 420 is celebrated so to speak. Remember SB 420 in California? SB 420 is a Senate bill that would require the State Department of Health Services to establish and maintain a voluntary program for the issuance of identification cards to qualified patients and would establish procedures under which a qualified patient with an identification card may use marijuana for medical purposes.

In Closing

420 a date, time, and phrase that will be celebrated until the end of time. We have been seeing it all over: Pulp Fiction (clocks set to 4:20 in a few scenes), the Price is Right (bids in numbers $420 and $1420), and Nickelodeon (Rocko’s Modern Life- clocks reading 4:20). We will continue to see it, and celebrate it, and honor it- Happy 420!

About Veronica Castillo

Veronica Castillo is a writer from Miami, with a pre-Cannabis background in insurance and human resources. She advocates, writes about, and educates on the topic of cannabis and hemp for overall life. Currently, she is a resident of the road exploring all thing’s cannabis and hemp in the United States, with plans to travel abroad in exploration of cannabis and hemp culture in other countries.


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