The Origin of 4/20

By Rolling Up

Many of us often wonder, how did the association between 420 and marijuana begin? There’s a ton of folklore and myths out there linking the date to Bob Marley’s birthday (February 6, 1945), a marijuana arrest code from the police, or even the amount of chemical compounds in marijuana. 

The original story is a funny one. In 1971, a group of students from San Rafael, California were on the search for a secret cannabis crop. They learned from a Coast Guard member who had planted a cannabis plant and could no longer tend to the crop. Free pot? This would excite anyone, so they embarked on their adventure.

The group called themselves “the Waldos” because their typical hangout spot was by a wall. One of the group members got a hold of a map that led to the secret crop. For weeks, they went to seek out their treasure with little success. The secret code started out as “4:20 Louie,” but then shortened to “4:20” (pronounced four twenty and never four hundred twenty). The term caught on throughout the school then eventually the music scene. It spread like wildfire. 


The originators of the term explained:

The time we got out of school was approximately 3 p.m., but some of us had after school sports activities that lasted until after 4 p.m.


There was just enough time to get back to the statue of Louis Pasteur to smoke and look for the pot fields drawn in a treasure map.


They never did score the free bud, but have made an impact in popular culture. The term allowed for high schoolers to talk about pot smoking without their parents or teachers knowing. Today the unofficial holiday is celebrated worldwide and “420” has become a staple of cannabis culture. 


While April 20 gives us the opportunity to celebrate medical marijuana and healing that the plant offers, we hope that federal marijuana prohibition ends and everyone can speak freely about marijuana without stigma.

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