April 20th is well-known as “Weed Day”, since many people make celebrations and smoke marijuana on this occasion. The day is also known as “4/20” which, besides representing the date, it also stands for a special code for pot.
There are many legends which revolve around this day, and some of them try to explain why the code 420 came to symbolize marijuana. It might be related to the date of the celebration, but there is a reason why this day became weed holiday.
Many rumors revolve around the origin of 420
Some say that this number comes from the criminal code used in California for the punishment of those involved in marijuana use and distribution. However, the 420 code has nothing to do with illegal drugs, as it is used regarding the obstructions on public land. Therefore, this is an unfounded rumor based more on a legend than on facts.
Belonging to the same category there is the rumor regarding the police radio code 420. However, this does not have a real basis either, as the only institution which has the 420 code is the San Francisco Police Department. As expected, this is not related to marijuana use, but it marks juvenile disturbance.
The next legend is a little more plausible. Some say that the code comes from Bob Dylan’s song called “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35”. One of the lines in the lyrics is “Everybody must get stoned”. Those who launched the theory say that this line is related to the two numbers in the title which, if you multiply, you obtain 420.
However, Bob Dylan did not confirm any link between the lyrics and the numbers in the title, so this theory is a little more far-fetched. The link might exist in the minds of some people, but it was not the intention of the artist.
The Waldos established this trend
The most plausible theory, which might actually represent the exact origin of the 420 code, claims that it was used among high school students in the 1970s. A group of friends who called themselves “The Waldos” used to gather at 4:20 p.m. to smoke marijuana.
The students from San Rafael High School in Marin County, California, met every day at this hour next to Louis Pasteur’s statue. This was the perfect time, as school was over but their parents were not home yet. They used the 420 code around their parents, and this trend gradually spread all over the country.
Thus, what started as a joke between friends became a pop culture phenomenon which is now widely known and used even beyond the American borders.
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