National Weed Day 2019: What Does 420 Mean?

Karl Utermohlen

National Weed Day 2019 is taking place later this week, celebrating cannabis products in the U.S. and across the globe.

National Weed Day

Source: Flickr

Marijuana is often consumed on 4/20, or April 20 every year, but the origins of the unofficial weed holiday are as hazy as the plant’s smoke. There are various theories surrounding where 420 comes from, including the following:

  • Oaksterdam Cannabis Museum curator Chris Conrad notes that some believe National Weed Day’s origins began with high school students in the early 1970s. San Rafael High School students in Marin County, California called themselves “the Waldos” and they’d meet at 4:20 p.m. to get high every day. They chose the time because they were out of school and their parents weren’t home yet. The number 420 then spread there, possibly through Grateful Dead followers.
  • While the story above is the most popular theory, some believe it comes from the Bob Dylan song “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35,” which contains the lyric, “Everybody must get stoned.” If you multiply 12 by 35, you get 420.
  • There are other theories that don’t have as much substance, including the erroneous belief that the number comes from the California criminal codes that punish the use or distribution of marijuana. This one is false as the state’s 420 code is related to obstructing entry on public land.
  • Another theory is that either the LAPD or NYPD have a code 420 related to marijuana, but neither of them do.

Where do you think 420 comes from?

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