What Is 420 and Where Did It Come From?

What Is 420 and Where Did It Come From?

Depending on who you speak to, 420 can mean a couple of different things! It can refer to the date of April 20th, or 4/20, as the annual celebratory day of marijuana weed smoking. Some might even say it’s a holiday! It can also refer to a time to smoke weed, as in 4:20pm. But it can also refer to the actual act of smoking weed and getting high, like when someone goes, “let’s 420 blaze it!”

With such variations of usage, one could say that the term “420” has a bit of a hazy history! No one really knows where it actually came from. However, there are some prevailing theories that have persisted throughout the years. So let’s do a little dive into 420 history and see how we’ve come to honour weed on this momentous date!

Back in the 70s

One prominent story about the exact origin of 420 is attributed to a group of five teenage students at the Californian San Rafael highschool back in 1971. Legend has it that they would meet at 4:20 after sports practice to smoke weed. They even had their own meet up spot at a wall by the school, which garnered them the nickname, “The Waldos”. It became a sort of ritual practice and is perhaps one that many of us are familiar with. From here, the codeword to meet up and get high only spread further and is still used in the exact same way today!

Police Communications

There has been some speculation that 420 actually came from the police and was utilized as a penal code for something like “marijuana smoking in progress”. There is no evidence to support these claims. However, considering the wide usage of 420 these days, especially with the rise of marijuana legalization, it’s definitely possible that this term can be thrown around in casual verbiage–even for the police!

The Number of Active Cannabinoids in Marijuana

Some say that 420 is representative of all the active chemicals in marijuana. It’s somewhat close, though this is not entirely true. You might know its more popular ingredients like THC and CBD. But in fact, these are only a small portion of the larger picture. Cannabis actually has closer to 500 active components! So to say 420 represents the active chemicals is quite a bit of a lowball!

The Weird Tales of H.P. Lovecraft

Literature and horror lovers will be intrigued by this fun fact! In H.P. Lovecraft and Kenneth J. Sterling’s short story titled “In the Walls of Eryx” mentions a “curious mirage-plants”. When reading the story, one might be reminded of the all-too familiar cannabis plant as the narrator discusses an experience that sounds very much like a stoner high! The narrator also happens to look at his watch during this uncanny experience, which indicates 4:20:

Although everything was spinning perilously, I tried to start in the right direction and hack my way ahead. My route must have been far from straight, for it seemed hours before I was free of the mirage-plant’s pervasive influence. Gradually the dancing lights began to disappear, and the shimmering spectral scenery began to assume the aspect of solidity. When I did get wholly clear I looked at my watch and was astonished to find that the time was only 4:20. Though eternities had seemed to pass, the whole experience could have consumed little more than a half-hour.

Coincidence? We think not! Having been written and published in the Weird Tales magazine in October 1939, this is perhaps the earliest account of weed being linked with the number, 420.

Protests and Counterculture

While 4/20 or April 20th has long served as the fun marijuana smoking holiday for decades, it has also served as a day of counterculture for quite some time. This was especially true prior to legalization in Canada as well as the United States. It was–and still is in many ways–a day of protest against socio-political issues like systemic violence, war, police brutality, corporate corruption and more. There really is no wonder why such issues would be associated with the day of weed. With the term 420 being around since the 70s, where the hippie counterculture of peace and love was prevalent and anti-war sentiments were strong, it was inevitable that the day is also one of protest against worldly injustices. Essentially, weed has become tangent to peace!

The Rise of 420

Legalization has definitely changed attitudes towards marijuana and along with it the day of 4/20. It has become further popularized and commercialized with the day becoming full of weed-related festivities. Cannabis enthusiasts and casual users enjoy weed on this day at public gatherings or in smaller group settings with some of your friends. Check out this iconic photo tweeted by XXL magazine of fellow cannabis lovers, Seth Rogen, Snoop Dogg and Wiz Khalifa celebrating 420 like the rest of us:


It’s not just for the homies to get a chance to just chill out together! Small business owners as well as larger companies also celebrate and offer special deals and offerings on weed and weed related products for your shopping needs! It is slowly catching up to the likes of other nationally celebrated holidays like St. Patrick’s Day or Easter with people out and about with their weed!

Celebrate Your 4/20 With Green Society

Green Society is always offering specials to its membership base. 4/20, of course, is no exception! Shop online and get yourself 4/20 ready or simply stock up on some legends like Wedding Cake, Mimosa, Girl Scout Cookies (GSC) or OG Kush and more like concentrates and yummy edibles with amazing 420 deals now!

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