Thursday, February 12, 2015

What Does 420 Mean?

420 is a number associated with the cannabis culture. People who use marijuana sometimes refer to their subculture as 420 or smoke at 4:20pm in the day. Some use April 20th, or 4/20 as a day to honor the medicinal herb. The beginning of the number to represent smoking marijuana has many urban legends and the origins remain elusive.

The most popular legend is one that Steve Hagar made famous. He was a writer for the marijuana magazine High Times. The story goes that a group of students from San Rafael High School in 1971 were in search of a hidden marijuana grow. The teenagers used to hang out by a wall outside their school and called themselves the “Waldos”. They would meet at 4:20pm every day by the Louis Pasteur statue at the school. From there they would go on their quest to find the hidden marijuana grow.

Many believe that the 420 began with the Grateful Dead following using 4:20 as their main time to smoke. The following does not claim to be the origin of the 420 popularity. The Grateful Dead tour did bring the trend to many communities and is one of the main reasons it grew into such popularity.

Some believe 420 is the police code for possession of marijuana. Each municipality and state have their own set of laws and guidelines, none with 420 being the code for possession. One exception is with California Senate Bill 420 that sets guidelines for possession. This bill was enacted after the popularity of the number association.

Their are numerous other theories that are untrue. The Grateful Dead did NOT stay only in hotel rooms with the number 420. Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison did NOT die on April 20th. And there are NOT 420 chemical compounds in marijuana, there are only 315 known.

The origins of the number 420 is elusive to the association of marijuana. The popularity can be seen in the widespread use of the number. For instance the Colorado Department of Transportation had a problem of continuously stolen signposts on mile 420 of I-70 east of Denver. To stop the thievery they have replaced it with mile post 419.99.


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