UTAH (ABC4) – Over the years, cannabis smoking has become more and more socially acceptable. However, the habit still proves to be controversial, with many taking action to back their viewpoint, like American civil rights activist and Senate runner Gary Chambers who was featured smoking a blunt in his political campaign.
For those who don’t know, today marks an annual celebration of this disputed practice. Weed-smokers across the nation mark 4/20 as a special occasion to commemorate the origins of their usage. But the question remains: what are the exact origins of April 20th? Yes, potheads commemorate April 20 as a national holiday for cannabis culture, but others have different ideas of what 4/20 represents.
According to TIME Magazine, some say “420” is code among police officers for “marijuana smoking in progress,” while some note that 4/20 is also Adolf Hitlers’s birthday, and others tie the date to Bob Dylan’s song “Rainy Day Woman #12 & 35” because 12 multiplied by 35 is equal to 420.
Despite the wide array of explanations as to why we have come to recognize 4/20 across the globe, all of these rumors have been deemed false in terms of the historical reasoning behind April 20 as a celebration.
In short, TIME Magazine ties a group of five former high school students out of Marin County, Calif. to April 20. It was 1971, and Steve Capper, Dave Reddix, Jeffery Noel, Larry Schwartz, and Mark Gravich were heading to San Rafael High School’s statue of chemist Louis Pasteur to light up at 4:20 p.m. The group, dubbed the “Waldos,” because they met at a wall, apparently chose that specific time because it was after their extracurricular activities, as noted by TIME. “420” was the guys’ code to one another for marijuana.
In 2017, Reddix told TIME, “We got tired of the Friday-night football scene with all of the jocks. We were the guys sitting under the stands smoking a doobie, wondering what we were doing there.”
Years later, Reddix carried on the tradition of 4/20, when his brother helped him get work with the Grateful Dead bassist, Phil Lesh, as a roadie. TIME Magazine credits the band with helping in popularizing the common smoker’s term “420.” By 1991, the phrase had become known worldwide, as High Times magazine had adopted it. According to TIME Magazine, High Times acknowledged that the “Waldos” were the inventors of 4/20 in 1998.