Why 4/20 is Such an Important Part of Cannabis Culture

“Are you 420 Friendly?”

Chances are, if you consume cannabis, at some point or another you have been asked if you are 420 friendly – or something along similar lines. At some point, 4/20, 4:20 and 420 became synonymous with cannabis use – but how did it become such an important part of cannabis culture in the first place?

It’s the universal time to smoke. It is the unofficial stoner holiday. It has been the center of protests against federal prohibition – and global prohibition as well. In recent years activists have used the 4/20 holiday as a chance for large-scale displays civil disobedience in the form of smoke-outs to take a stand and make a point.

The craziest part? It all started with 4 friends in San Rafael, California back in the 1970s.

What started as a meeting time and a meeting place – a statue outside their school at 4:20 pm – for a group of teenage boys to prepare to search for a missing plot of marijuana plants. Over time the search for the secret grow was abandoned, but 4:20 remained the meeting time to toke up.

The group of friends – known thanks to High Times as the “Waldos” – continued to use their inside lingo, and through their use of it the term at Grateful Dead concerts in San Rafael in the 70s the term slowly became a part of cannabis culture in California.

From there it wouldn’t be until the 90s when “420” became a cannabis culture term not only around the entire U.S., but around the world. Unsurprisingly, someone (who is still anonymous to this day) attending a Grateful Dead concert at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum in 1990 was handing out fliers that set the groundwork for a rumor that still occasionally circulates today.

The fliers claimed that “4/20” was police code for a marijuana related arrest – so in defiance of prohibition it encouraged lighting up at 4:20 on 4/20. A writer for High Times Magazine happen to be at that concert and to have gotten that flier – writing an article about it which eventually brought the international use of the term “4/20” to cannabis culture and brought the original creators, the Waldos, out of the woodwork.

This 4/20 Holiday people in 9 states and Washington D.C. are able to celebrate more freely as cannabis has been legalized – but millions of others will continue to light up at 4:20 not in celebration, but in protest.

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