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What Are the Roots of 420?

Every April, potsmokers look forward to the 4/20 “holiday” that commemorates their pastime. Not many people, however, truly knows where it comes from and you will get a different answer depending on who you ask. As this is a big day in the cannabis community, it is important to know just why.

In the 1970’s a group of individuals who called themselves “Waldos” met outside of their school in California to smoke weed. They needed a gathering time and chose “4:20 p.m.” because most activities had ended at that time. So, the high school students would use “420” as the code for smoking out that afternoon.

Eventually, it reached the band The Grateful Dead as well as the High Times magazine. One of the members forwarded a message to Steven Bloom, a former reporter for High Times magazine. These three main influencers helped to make “420” the popular code that it is today.

The Waldo’s influence was a result of the close connection that they had to the Grateful Dead. Mark Waldo’s father took care of the real estate for the band. Another connection is that one of the Waldo’s older brother’s Patrick, managed a sideband of the Grateful Dead and would smoke out with the bassist Phil Lesh. He likely used the term 420 around him.

This code begin to spread and was acknowledged within the cannabis community as time to smoke out. In fact, the Waldos say that the term spread throughout San Rafael within just a few years and was being used in other parts of the state as well. By the time the 1990’s rolled around, it was being used in places throughout the world and could even be found on signs and in park benches in Ohio, Florida, and Canada.

At Purdy & Bailey, LLP, we represent individuals who need assistance handling a cannabis business law matter in or around San Diego, California. Contact us for information to see how we can help!

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