Clearing the smoke on the real history of 420

Taylor Villescas

Photo courtesy of MCT
Photo courtesy of MCT

The origins of the infamous 4/20 holiday, remain shrouded in mystery to most. Some claim that the date was chosen in honor of Hitler’s birthday or Bob Marley’s death, or that it represents the number of active chemicals in cannabis, while others insist that it was 1970s police code for a “smoking in progress.”

But really, the epicenter was San Rafael High School in Northern California during the 70s, according to 420 Magazine. A group of students on campus, known as “the Waldos,” would get high at 4:20 p.m. after classes, and used the digits to communicate to each other during school.

The code name blew up, spreading through stoner circles like wildfire. Eventually it went nationwide once it was picked up by fans of the legendary psychedelic group, the Grateful Dead.

Today, 420 has seeped into every crack of our pop culture, and remains an essential part of stoner vocabulary.