As the saying goes, it’s 4:20 somewhere so let’s smoke. Maybe we just made that up and, as it turns out, there are many made up stories behind the 420 term. Discover the real meaning here.
It could be a flashback to graffiti art on the side of your high school chemistry desk. Or a flicker of recognition from when @420doggface208 won the Internet with his TikTok rendition of Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams.” Or a throwback to Wiz Khalifa’s 2018 smash summer hit “420 Freestyle.” The question is, what does 420 mean? And where does it come from? The long and short of it is this: it’s a reference to the consumption of cannabis. Call it a time, call it a date, or call it a product, it’s all groovy maaan.
For decades, rumours have been thrown around about where the term 420 originally came from. Some say it’s because 420 is the penal code section for cannabis use in California. Not quite. Section 420 of the California penal code is in reference to obstructing entry on public land. However, the Governor of California signed the appropriately named 2004 Senate Bill 420 for the regulation of medical cannabis usage. This number is no coincidence but refers to the 420 pop culture reference, not the other way around.
Some 420 enthusiasts sought refuge in the poetic lyrics of Bob Dylan. One rainy night, when the smoke cleared, a Dylan fan realized his song “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35” could have been a nod to 420. How, you ask? Well, it cones down to some simple math: 12×35=420. While this was undoubtably a mind-blowing moment, the 420 truth lies elsewhere.
Yet another theory is the one about Hitler. As it happens, his birthday is April 20th (4/20) and they don’t call it the Devil’s Lettuce for nothing, right? Wrong.
Turns out, the real story isn’t nearly as exotic but way more grassroots. The OG movement started with a group of teenagers that went to San Rafael High School in California’s Bay Area. The year was 1971. By the time class and after-school sports had ended, the time would be right around 4:20. The friends would get together at their school’s iconic statue of Louis Pasteur, then they’d head out to roll up, drive around, and chat about girls and rock ’n roll. “420” became the slang they used to confirm meet-up sessions because no one knew what they were talking about: not their parents, not their teachers, and certainly not the cops.
Word got out about a top-secret plot of bud growing a few miles from their school. The cultivators wanted to rid themselves of any evidence before their superiors at the U.S. Coast Guard caught them red-handed. The group (colloquially known as the “Waldos”) found themselves a treasure map and headed out to get their loot. The mission took a few days and so “420” became more and more commonly discussed as their determination to reach this Cannabis Mecca grew.
After high school, one of the Waldos, Dave Reddix, got a job touring with The Grateful Dead as their roadie. His close connection with the band helped popularize the term. On December 28, 1990, a group of Deadheads in Oakland began handing out flyers encouraging people to smoke “420” on April 20th at 4:20pm. And so the annual celebration was born.
In 1998, High Times magazine officially gave credit to the Waldos for having coined the term 420.
Since the legalization of cannabis across Canada and many states in the USA, we’ve seen 420-friendly establishments pop up across the map. No longer do consumers need feel shame or that they’re breaking the law. 420-friendly means the business and the people working behind the scenes are not only tolerant of cannabis consumption but quite probably partaking themselves. Pay close attention and you’ll see and hear the term mentioned everywhere from recipes to apartment ads to dating apps.
There’s no reason to wait until April 20th to get involved. After all, 4:20 happens twice a day, every day. Take this opportunity to thank those who trail blazed before us so that we could enjoy delicately handcrafted strains, like BC Organic Apple Toffee or our popular BC Organic Blue Dream. Both offer fruity, sweet aromas and complex flavours that are hard to resist.
Read up on your 420 history and throw on a reggae playlist. Take a deep breath and try to decipher the lyrics of Dylan’s “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35”. Most importantly, enjoy your time. Next time the clock strikes 4:20, take note. Celebrate the way that feels best for you.
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