In order to determine the origination of 420, we have to go back 5 decades to the 1970’s and a Huffington Post interview about the individuals who coined the term. According to the interview, 4:20 was the time that these individuals hang out together and smoke. Once they had finished, they would go searching for this secret weed garden that was supposedly being grown by a member of the Coast Guard who was stationed at Point Reyes 30 miles northwest of San Francisco.
These individuals were known by many as the “Waldos” and would meet regularly by the Louis Pasteur statue on their San Rafael school campus. They would usually go searching after their sports practice. Upon passing one another in the school hallways, they would whisper the phrase “4:20 – Louis” as a reminder to meet at that time. At some point they dropped the “Louis” part of the phrase and would whisper “4:20.” Since then, the phrase has evolved into dozens of different meanings.
For the most part, 420 was their code for asking different questions such as “Do you want to smoke some weed?”, “Are you high?”, or “Are you holding (Do you have any weed)?” Sad to say, they never did find that secret patch of marijuana, but the term 420 has stuck around ever since. So how did the term go from its use among a small group of high schoolers into an expression that most are familiar with nationwide? According to music history, you can thank the San Francisco band the Grateful Dead for its growth as a popular phrase in marijuana culture.
Eventually, the use of 420 spread throughout the band community and was responsible for the creation of a subculture identity. Once the magazine “High Times” coined the term in some of their content, it became a marketing tool for the publication, which led to its distribution on an international scale.
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