The REAL Story of 4/20

The REAL Story of 4/20

April 20th, 4/20, is a day on which we can reflect on how far weed has come, appreciate some of the finest pot and pot culture… and, most importantly, get really, really high. But how did this great annual celebration first come into existence?


4/20 festivities in Boulder, Colorado

When it comes to weed it’s pretty much the most important day of the year, but ask most of the people who ‘celebrate’ it and they won’t be able to tell you where the tradition of blazing up on 4/20 began (and no, it’s not because of the slightly impaired memory of your average pot enthusiast).

It’s many, many origin stories mostly seem like myths and legends. It was the penal code for a possession offense in a particular state. It’s the number of active compounds in marijuana. It’s the amount of bowls you need to smoke before you ascend into the 4th dimension. It was the time that a group of stoners used to meet and smoke after school. It’s this last, common rumor that might have the most to it, at least according to the Huffington Post.


San Rafael, CA.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the story traces its beginnings to California, in the small town of San Rafael. And, even less surprisingly, it involves the Grateful Dead.

It starts with a group of high school athletes back in 1971 in San Rafael who referred to themselves as the Waldos (so named because, get this, they hung out by a wall outside school). They got wind of an abandoned crop of weed and decided to pilfer some of the neglected bud, meeting daily after school to get high and try to find it.

What time did they meet up every day? 4:20PM.

Talking to Huff Po, they admitted that while they never actually found the crop, their daily meeting time became a pretty convenient way to refer to pot or smoking, pretty soon becoming part of their vernacular, or at least a way to covertly refer to weed around teachers and parents.

If you’re wondering how five young potheads’ secret language managed to reach the entire counter-culture, well, that’s where your dad’s favorite jam band comes in.


Grateful Dead

It turns out that one of the Waldos dad’s managed real estate for these big dogs of the counter-culture, and that one of their older brothers managed a band close to them and smoked with their bassist, Phil Lesh, on the reg. Needless to say, it wasn’t long before that smoke carried the phrase into the band’s lexicon. From there, it spread through the Dead’s happily toking fan base.


More 4/20 celebrations in Montreal, Canada

And there you have it! Sometimes, the best, most wholesome story is the real one; you’re welcome for the awesome smoking story next time you blaze up. Sorry to hear they haven’t made a dime yet on their incredible 4/20 legacy, though.

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1 comment

  • Chuck Nicefield

    The 4/20 exist because THC and CBD are in perfect boiling states at 420 degrees Fahrenheit.

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