4/20 has become a very special day for anyone who partakes in cannabis. The world’s wackiest holiday, April 20 (aka 4/20 or 420) has exploded into an international day of socializing, smoking cannabis and celebration. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the international cannabis holiday, we’ll answer your burning questions: Where does it come from? What does it mean? Why do we celebrate? How do we celebrate?
For years, people have speculated about the true meaning of 4/20. Some of the stories that have grown over the years include everything from commemorating the death of Bob Marley or Hitler’s birthday to the American police code for catching someone in the act of illegally smoking cannabis or a hidden code from a Bob Dylan song title.
In reality, Bob Marley’s death was May 11, 1981, and his birth date was February 6, not April 20. While Hitler’s birthday is on April 20, it really has nothing to do with cannabis. NYPD and LAPD have never used 420 as a police code. San Francisco PD does, but its for juvenile disturbances and in Las Vegas it represents homicide, not pot smoking. With the infamous chorus “Everybody must get stoned,” Bob Dylan’s “Rainy Day Women #12 and 35” is definitely about recreational marijuana use, right? Fans have noted that if you multiply the numbers in the song’s title – 12 and 35 – you get 420. Not only does this rumor involve way too much math, it and happens to not be true anyway (says Bob Dylan).
The Real History of 4/20
The most credible and generally accepted origin story of 4/20 begins in 1971 in Marin County, California, when a group of five students at San Rafael High School reportedly met at a wall outside the school to hang out and smoke weed. Steve Capper, Dave Reddix, Jeffrey Noel, Larry Schwartz, and Mark Gravich became known as the Waldos (because their hang out spot was by a wall… get it?) All five Waldos were athletes, so they planned to meet after their team practices were over, at – you guessed it – 4:20 p.m., and it quickly became their code word for weed.
The term probably would have faded as the students grew up and moved on. However, one the Waldos had an older brother who was close friends with Phil Lesh, the bassist for the Grateful Dead and that is where the term really took hold. Though this friendship, the Waldos gained access to Grateful Dead shows, rehearsals and parties. One of the Waldos, “Waldo Dave” Reddix, even tagged along with the Dead as a roadie during a summer tour. From here, the phrase spread through the Grateful Dead community and across the nation.
On December 28, 1990, a group of Deadheads in Oakland allegedly passed out flyers for smoking weed at 4:20pm on 4/20. In 1991, the flyer was printed in High Times Magazine, officially solidifying it as an official code for marijuana. Over the years, it has established itself as an irrefutable cultural phenomenon, working its way into everything from social media handles to tattoos.
In the decades since its inception, 4/20 has been widely embraced as a de facto holiday for those who partake in the plant and a popular part of pop culture, showing up in everything from music to movies (all the clocks in the film Pulp Fiction are set to 4:20.) Every year on April 20, people around the world attend events and raise awareness about cannabis. From rallies urging governments to legalize cannabis and education events to inform the public to large-scale outdoor cannabis smoke outs and weed-infused festivals. No matter where you are, there’s almost certainly something 420-inspired going on.
Celebrating 420: How to prepare for an at-home 420 celebration
While grooving at a jam band concert or attending one of the many 420 festivals may not be possible in 2021, there’s plenty of 420 fun to be had safely at home. Here’s how to prepare for 420’s 50th Anniversary. Check out Merry Jane’s 4/20 sale (20% off entire store!) to help you enjoy the day.
ROOM TO CHILL.
One key to an enjoyable cannabis experience is one’s setting or surroundings. Arrange your space to enjoy the day and get into a cannabis celebratory mood. Assemble furniture so there’s plenty of comfy spots for guests. Use floor pillows to expand the seating area to accommodate any “couch lock.”
Use lighting to create a chill ambiance. Switch out bright light bulbs to lower wattage and soft white for a more relaxing vibe.
SECURE THE SNACKS.
Be sure to have plenty of munchie approved food and beverages readily available.
Create an awesome 420 playlist. Unsure where to start? Check out these 420 songs on Marijuana.com’s Spotify playlist.
Plan for some fun and easy 420 themed activities, such as cannabis games and a marijuana movie marathon.
Weed Themed Games
- Cards Against Humanity: Weed Pack expansion pack.
- Ducking High, from What Do You Meme?
- Take A Hit card game.
- 420-The Card Game, a weed party game.
- Weed-opoly, “Start at Start, End at Stoned.”
Ultimate 420 Movie List:
NME.com compiled this list of ten “Best Films to Get Baked On 4/20.”
- Cats (2019)
- Smiley Face (2007)
- Reefer Madness (1936)
- Dazed and Confused (1993)
- The Wizard of Oz (1939)
- Friday (1995)
- Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle (2004)
- Pineapple Express (2008)
- The Beach Bum (2019)
- The Big Lebowski (1998)
THE GUEST OF HONOR
Priority number one for any 420 party, of course, is cannabis itself. So make sure your carts are full, concentrates ready, and flower flowing!
On this 50th anniversary of marijuana’s most notable holiday, we plan to reflect on the story of 420 and give thanks to the many people who paved the way for us to enjoy a puff right now. Whatever your plans this 420, Merry Jane’s wishes you happy and safe celebrating.