What is “420”, and Why?

The More You Know graphic

Today is April 20th, aka 4/20, aka the Highest of Holy Days for cannabis enthusiasts.

Numerous OMMP dispensaries will be running specials all day long, so if you have your card, check out the offerings via such awesome apps as Leafly.

It’s also a great day to remind people why we choose this day to celebrate, and how 420 came to be the hipster lingo slang for those who use the jazz tobacco.

Despite what your roommate may have told you while packing the bong, 420 is NOT “police code” for “cannabis smoking in progress.” (That’s not a real thing.)

The truth is that it started in San Rafael, a bedroom community of San Francisco, in 1971 by a group of high school students who dubbed themselves the Waldos.

They met every day at 4:20 to get high while unsuccessfully seeking a rumored cannabis plot they were told could be found using a treasure map they came upon.

Friends of theirs, including several close to the Grateful Dead, began using the term.

In 1980, the editor of High Times saw the term used and explained on a Grateful Dead flyer. The magazine began using the term, and even held their meetings for new ideas at 4:20.

Since then, it’s moved into pop culture, and people as hip as your Mom are now familiar with its association with the Demon Weed.

Josh Taylor is a well-known and successful entrepreneur in the legal cannabis space, producing B2B and B2C cannabis events, "Backstage Budtending" and upscale concierge services through his companies OregonCannabisConcierge.com and CaliforniaCannabisConcierge.com. His weekly syndicated newspaper column and features about cannabis ran for five years until March 2020.

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