It’s 4/20 tomorrow! What are you doing to celebrate? April 20th has long been celebrated as a day to consume cannabis but what does 4/20 really mean? Some attribute it to a rumored police code , but the real story is much more interesting. As it turns out, the code “420” was started by a small group of teenagers in San Rafael, California in 1971. So how did it become a worldwide phenomenon? They were in the right place at the right time and had certain key connections to a little band called The Grateful Dead.
The teens aka the The Waldos, were in high school when they heard about a plot of marijuana plants belonging to a Coast Guard service member. He apparently could no longer tend the crops so the Waldos decided to go looking for the free supply. The Waldos decided to meet under a statue of Louis Pasteur at 4:20 to start their search. After a few failed attempts they didn’t let initial failure stop them. They continually meet at 4:20 to smoke and go looking for the patch. Soon, they could just say “420” and their friends would know what they were talking about, without family or teachers catching on.
Meanwhile, the hippie counterculture of San Francisco was collapsing and many, like The Grateful Dead, moved to the Marin Country hills, where the San Rafael High School was located. A brother of a Waldo was good friends with bassist Phil Lesh, while another Waldo’s father managed real estate for the band. So, the Waldos would interact with the band and other musicians at rehearsals and parties, and the phrase began to spread through the community while the Dead played shows worldwide. Coincidence, I think not.