Marijuana goes by many names, Pot, Weed, Grass, Ganga, Dope, Herb, Cannabis, Reefer, Mary Jane, Chronic, Rope, Broccoli, even Burrito! No matter what you call it, the number 420 holds a special significance. April 20th is what most “Bud Enthusiasts” celebrate as an unofficial holiday, just like the day after Super Sunday is “Call out Sick” Monday.
You can tell if someone is a seasoned connoisseur of the wacky weed when they get excited by the sight of a digital clock at 4:20 (AM or PM).
Where did 420 come from? You may be surprised.
It started 47 years ago at a San Francisco High School by 5 students looking for marijuana garden hidden in the forest. They had a crude hand-drawn map. One of the students relatives had entered the military and was afraid it would be found, so he handed off the map and told them to take it all.
The five friends made plans to find the weed after school and decided to meet in front of the school’s statue of Louis Pasteur at 4:20 p.m.
Keep in mind, at this point getting busted with pot was not just a slap on the wrist. In 1971, you were handed serious jail time if caught with even small amounts…so everyone who enjoyed Mother Nature’s sweet gift talked in code, which explains why it is called so many different things. Marijuana has more nicknames than money, cash, moolah!
As they hatched a plan to find the weed in the forest, the crew kept up the code “420 Louis” as not to give away their (yet to be seen) secret stash.
To everyone’s surprise, 5 stoned high school students were unable to find Jerry Garcia’s “Pot of Gold” in the woodlands of San Francisco after multiple trips.
The “420 Louis” stuck for “let’s get high at the statue after school.” Soon after, it was shortened to simply 420 and meant “let’s get high anywhere.”
420 remained with the boys and their friends until they began hanging out with a guy named Phil Lesh…yes, THAT Phil Lesh! This is where 420 started to take on a life of it’s own and that led to backstage passes and smoking sessions with the Grateful Dead’s roadies and other crew members, who were already using codes for weed.
The use of 420 spread nationwide in the late 1980s when the magazine “High Times” circulated flyers at Dead concerts proclaiming 420 to be the password of stoner culture. The flyers said that 420 was California police code for marijuana smoking in progress. It’s not, but that’s what makes the story even better.
You can search stories about 420 all day and find about 420 different versions of the truth. Let’s face it, if you’ve created a code, term, holiday all about getting stoned…your memory may not be the best.
The 5 students are still friends and living in the same area of San Fran. I imagine they hang out and have a small celebration of their own on 4/20!
If you think you have issues with drugs, you can call 1-877-906-1671 for help with substance abuse.