420, Cannabis Day, has recently exploded into a genuine international weed holiday. All over the world, the date of 4-20 is being used to promote legalisation and highlight the positive aspects of cannabis. But what are the origins of the four twenty myth? We investigated how three seemingly random numbers evolved into the emblem of World Cannabis Day.
The Origins Of 420 And The Cannabis Day Connection
420 has become all but synonymous for cannabis in just about any country you can visit. In the Netherlands, we have coffeeshops with 420 in their name, and if you keep an eye out, you’ll spot 420 bumper stickers around our nation’s cannabis capital pretty easily. Still, if you ask random passers-by what four twenty means, you’ll most likely get shrugs and frowns for an answer.
The deepest roots of the 420 myth are shrouded in a haze of cannabis fumes to this day. People tend to think that April 4 must be Bob Marley’s birthday (spoiler alert: it’s not – he was born February 6, 1945). Others guess 420 denotes the number of active cannabis compounds, but that’s not how the day got its name either.
Another common misconception is that 420 marks the best day for planting cannabis seeds. That’s not it, even though the date is actually pretty close as you can read in this blog.
Nor is 420 a police code used for busting people with cannabis on them, as some people claim. Oh, and just to be sure: it’s definitely not some kind of secret code you get by adding up all numbers ever used in Bob Dylan songs…
The truth is in fact much simpler. It all started way back in the Seventies at San Rafael High School, in California USA. A group of friends calling themselves The Waldos simply enjoyed hanging out together, just to smoke some old-fashioned pot and go on groovy adventures around town.
The Waldos And Their Cannabis Adventures
Steve Clapper used to be one of these adventuring pot pioneers. He told international High Life Magazine in 2020 that they weren’t just being classic stoners vegging out on the couch all day. Back then, the Waldos were always making up exciting missions, constantly inventing new weird adventures for themselves.
One day, in 1971, they caught a rumour about a secret spot where cannabis was being grown, somewhere near the San Rafael coast. The friends made plans and set a meeting point to stage their search for the secret ganja treasure.
The agreed rallying point was the Louis Pasteur statue on campus and they set the time for twenty past four. Word soon spread, and before the day was done, the “420 Louis” cannabis hunting keyword was buzzing around the school halls. The Waldo squad soon started to use the code word for all their weed-inspired expeditions, dropping the Louis bit along the way.
Pretty soon, the number 420 became synonymous for fun afternoon adventures, cruising around town with a joint in hand and radios blasting out loud. This was way before the age of smartphones, of course, and internet was still a long way off. The Waldos simply went wherever the day took them, and a whiff of cannabis smoke was pretty sure to follow in their wake.
So how did 420 grow from a secret code used by a group of stoner friends to a worldwide cannabis day symbol? Well, part of the explanation is that back then, the California pot smoking scene was a still pretty small community.
It just so happened that one of the Waldos had a brother, Dave Reddix, who worked for legendary stoner band The Grateful Dead. Onde day, he told band member Lesh the story of 420, who then passed it on to his friends, presumably along with some cannabis goodness. Soon, the tale of 420 began its journey around the world…
When Is 420 And How To Celebrate It?
Originally, 4:20 used to signify the time of day for cannabis adventures. Obviously, however, the numbers now signify the date of Four Twenty: April 20 now marks Cannabis Day across the world.
You are absolutely free to celebrate this day in any way you like. Many simply light up on their comfortable sofa, possibly joined by their best smoking friends. You could also choose to take your 420 party outside, because it just so happens to coincide with spring sunshine. Now that the days are getting warmer, what could be better than to meet up with your crew somewhere in the park, in the back tard, or even on the beach to enjoy your 420 Cannabis Day party?
420 is also a fine day to stop and reflect on the many joys of cannabis. How good is it to see the love of leaf spreading around the world, making weed a mainstream treat for ever more people? Of course, you should always stick to your local laws when it comes to enjoying cannabis on 420 day – legalisation may be coming your way soon!
This serves to illustrate how weed is still not legal in many places: 420 is also a day to stop and think about all the people still awaiting cannabis liberation back home. Still, if you’re one of the lucky smokers, you may be able to benefit from special 420 deals at your local coffeeshop, dispensary, or seed bank!
420: The True Meaning Of Cannabis Day
On 420 or any other day, the tokers of the Netherlands are acutely aware of their privileged cannabis position. Of course, the Dutch are famously prone to complain; it’s a bit of a national pastime here. Still, we’re pretty well-off compared to many other countries. People still get prison sentences or worse for being caught with a little pot – and in countries like Indonesia or Singapore, you can still get the death penalty for possession of cannabis, even on 420 Day…
Even in America, weed is still only legal in just over a dozen states. Nonetheless, we are making steady progress: cannabis is becoming more mainstream every day, and the time when we had to use code words like 420 whenever we felt like lighting up may soon become a thing of the past.
Nonetheless, 420 is a fine day to consider the global potential of cannabis. If nothing else, it should be a date used to show that it is time to change the way we look at weed, if only because we keep finding more evidence about its potential health benefits.
Fortunately, the global perspective on cannabis seems to be gradually shifting towards the positive. These days, you can book 420-friendly hotels in many cities. These accommodations facilitate casual use of cannabis, which is a development the cannabis community can only appreciate. You can find 420 friendly places all over the planet, although you are always welcome to visit Amsterdam and enjoy an entire 420 friendly city with deep cannabis roots any day of the year!
All in all, 420 is a day for all cannabis lovers to celebrate and to cherish. Be sure to make the most of it this year, whether by yourself or with your friends, no matter where you are. And don’t forget that it’s almost time to kickstart the new cannabis outdoor season, so grab some serious 420 discounts on those seeds and celebrate 420 Day in the most fitting way!