It’s become a national holiday for cannabis fans. Although its roots are in a frustrated search for a legendary field of marijuana, 420 day is celebrated each year.
Happy 420 Day
We’re talking about April 20th, of course. The term “420” is now universally accepted as the code for marijuana. It’s long-since passed the stage of being a cool underground thing. Now, it’s the foundation for events around the country.
In some cases, these 420 day events simply involve showing up and partaking in cannabis together. In others, a full set of special attractions are built around the day.
Here’s a look at three of the biggest events, as well as the history of 420.
Colorado Cannabis Week
This string of events runs from April 18-22. It includes a rally on April 20, music concerts, cannabis tours – really, everything related to cannabis happens at this annual event. It’s billed as the “Biggest 420 Party In The Country,” and that’s probably true.
There’s a Colorado International Hemp and Film Festival in the days leading up to April 20. There’s a concert April 19 featuring 311, Method Man and Redman. There’s the Mile High 420 Festival on April 20 at the Civic Center Park in downtown Denver featuring Lil Wayne and Lil John.
Certainly, if you are interested in cannabis culture, this is a good place to start. Denver remains the center of the 420 universe.
High Times magazine kicks off its annual slate of Cannabis Cups starting on April 20 at the National Orange Show Events Center in San Bernardino, California. The Cannabis Cup features competitions, of course, but also hundreds of cannabis-related vendors, music and a chance to join up with activist organizations.
420 Bud Drop
At Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, people will gather for the second annual 420 Bud Drop at Hippie Hill, which is like New Year’s Eve except…well, you get the picture. Every 420th person to register for the event will become eligible to win a free year’s supply of marijuana. Yes, you read that right.
Those are three of the biggest events. There also is a National Cannabis Festival the next day, April 21, in Washington DC. at RFK stadium. Any of these events will be put you in the center of the action on 420 Day. Chances are they’re doing something in your community, as well.
All of which begs the question: Why?
The History Behind 420
As explained in great detail here, the term 420 does not refer to a day, but a time. In the early 1970s, five high school friends in San Rafael, California, heard about a supposedly untended patch of marijuana near a Coast Guard lighthouse in the woods outside town.
All of them played sports, so they would meet up at 4:20 p.m. after practice – at the Louis Pasteur statue, of all places – and then go in search of the field in hopes of plucking a few plants for themselves.
Even after many attempts, they never found the field. But they had come up with a useful code for marijuana. They initially would say “420 Louis” to each other in the school halls, but eventually dropped the “Louis.” The group, by the way, were called the “Waldos,” a name earned because they all tended to hang out together near a wall at the school.
And so, a legendary code name – and a holiday for many – was born. How did it spread from a high school in California around the world? One of the kids’ fathers managed real estate for The Grateful Dead, and the kids hung out with the band. Soon their code word spread through the band’s large fan base, and then High Times magazine picked it up and began using the phrase.
Does it make it better or worse to know the story behind the story? That’s up to you, but now you know.