How April 20 Became an Alternative Holiday
When it comes to marijuana and cannabis, 420 has become synonymous with the culture. On April 20 stoners from all over the world will spark up from breakfast to dinner. Celebrating a “holiday” that not many people know the origin of.
From rumours of 420 being the police code for marijuana consumption in California to Bob Dylan’s “Rainy Day Woman No. 12 and No. 35.” ( 12 times 35 being 420 and Bob Dylan’s references to “getting stoned”) The truth lies in a city roaming the Californian Hills called San Rafael, the birth place of 420.
At San Rafael High School a group of students were your average pot smoking California kids. Calling themselves the Waldo’s cause they hung out by the same wall every day after school. What they didn’t know was they would transform marijuana culture for years to come.
Word reached the group that a large crop of marijuana belonging to a Coast Guard was no longer being watched. In search of this magical field they met at 4:20 every day after school at the St. Louis Pasteur statue on campus. They spent weeks in search of the elusive field but never found it. What they did find was a term that would last like time itself.
420 then became their own code identifying cannabis consumption or anything pot related. A nod and the numbers 4/20 were all that’s needed to hit the statue and smoke. Although no other students caught on, one band did and it took the phrase main stream.
A few of the Waldo’s members, Mark Waldo’s father and Waldo Dave’s brother were closely affiliated with The Grateful Dead. The legendary band known for its mind bending jam sessions and hoards of hippies following their concerts around the country and world. Dave’s older brother Patrick was a manager for the Grateful Dead and would often bring the Waldo’s around the band.
Phil Lesh, bassist for the Dead would hang with the Waldo’s, often smoking plenty of pot. The phrase 420 then spread back to the band, and as they started using it their fan base hopped on the train. High Times caught wind of this, took the baton and ran with it.
Taking 420 to Higher Times
High Times magazine saw the Grateful Dead using 420 as an opportunity to market a new phrase. Making every event and article 4/20 related they spread the term like wild fire and took it to an international audience.
High Times editor Steve Hager hosted events and revolved the themes around the 4:20 phenomenon. He claims that Hight Times took what was just a subculture in to a prevalent main stream saying. High Times even went on to purchase www.420.com
With their influence and marketing prowess they planted enough 4/20 seeds in the world to see it have blossomed everywhere. Who knows if 420 would have only been a Grateful Dead fan saying or as widely used as it is today.
420 is Here to Stay
Every year since April 20 became a giant smoke out the gathering and events have gotten grander. Locations all across Canada and the world will be hosting events without fear of police intervention.
Views on Marijuana legalization have come a long way thanks to events where large groups of supporters gather. The people have spoken and using marijuana should in no way be illegal. Head down to your local rally this year to support the movement and promote legalization!