Origin Of ‘420’ – The Marijuana Holiday

SAN RAFAEL (CBS 5) — On this day, April 20, marijuana advocacy groups claim millions of people around the world are celebrating 420 Day, a term synonymous with smoking marijuana.

The so-called ‘high holiday’ shares an infamous date with Adolf Hitler’s birthday in 1889, and the tragic 1999 Columbine High School massacre.

There are many myths behind the origins of the phrase 420 as slang for marijuana.

One popular myth is that 420 came about because the California police code for marijuana possession was 420. Not true.

Other untrue rumors:

— Actor/comedian Cheech Marin was born at 4:20 on April 20.

— The Grateful Dead lived at 420 Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco.

— The Dead’s Jerry Garcia died at 4:20 a.m.

So, what’s the true story?

According to High Times magazine, 420 originated in 1971 by a group of students, known as “the Waldos,” at San Rafael High School.

The magazine said the Waldos coined the term because they would get together after school at 4:20 p.m. to smoke marijuana, and they could openly talk about 420 without anyone knowing what it meant.

High Times indicated that 420 didn’t catch on until the late 1980s when it began as an underground term circulating around Grateful Dead fans, also headquartered in San Rafael.

The term then eventually came into use in popular culture, too.

(© 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

  • Chuck

    Go San Rafael High!!!

  • http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2011/04/20/1-dead-2-hurt-in-stabbing-outside-sacramento-pot-club/ 1 Dead, 2 Hurt In Stabbing Outside Sacramento Pot Club « 1 Dead, 2 Hurt In Stabbing Outside Sacramento Pot Club « CBS San Francisco

    […] SACRAMENTO (CBS/AP) — Three people were stabbed, one fatally, outside a medical marijuana dispensary in Sacramento on the day pot users around the nation celebrate the drug’s unofficial holiday. […]

  • Ron

    San Rafael HIgh Alumni!!!! proud to know that 4:20 started at the school i graduated from!

  • mechanic

    I wish I could be proud of all the adle-brained pot heads I knew and still know; but I’m actually ashamed of them, and what they’ve all become over the years. Too bad they’ve never known what shame is; thanks to the state of “moral relativism” that most of us live by these days. They are all soooo coooool, though; aren’t they.
    What a bunch of losers!

    • ANicePerson

      Who’s pathetic? You’re the one surfing the internet, leaving comments (at 3:50pm when you should be at a job of some sort if you’re not a “loser”) about your troubled life and making assumptions/attacking people you call “friends.” Sounds to me like the reason you have no friends isn’t because everyone smokes Cannabis, but that you sir, are an a**hole with insecurities and a need to bring those around you down so you can live with what you’ve accomplished in life. Which I ASSUME to be absolutely nothing. Have a lovely day.

  • ANicePerson

    They left out the most important part. The reason they met up at the statue isn’t just to smoke. It was to gather in search of a rumored growing spot they had heard of in the area.

  • http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2013/04/22/cleanup-from-golden-gate-park-420-smokeout-to-cost-city-10000/ Cleanup From Golden Gate Park 4/20 Smokeout To Cost City $10,000 « CBS San Francisco

    […] Related Content: The Origins of 4/20 […]

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    […] 20th is Easter Sunday and Golden Gate Park is expected to be busy. That’s because every year on 4/20, which happens to be the date on Sunday, mostly marijuana lovers take to “Hippie Hill” to […]

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