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What is the origin of "420"?

By Brad N January 16, 2018

Even if you aren’t actively part of marijuana culture odds are you’ve heard the phrase “420” somewhere before, but most people are unfamiliar with the origins of the phrase. Some people believe it’s the police code for marijuana use in progress in California, some people think it’s the number of chemical compounds in THC, along with many other wacky HIGHdeas about where the term came from.

The true origin comes from a group of high schoolers at San Rafael high school back in 1971 who happened to come to posses a map that apparently led to a hidden plot of marijuana plants at Point Reyes. The crew would meet every day at 4:20 to go off on their expeditions in search of the plants, eventually they started referring to meeting up by “420” and it caught on with friends and friends of friends who happened to be members of The Grateful Dead and the term then spread to their fans thus creating the popular cannabis smoking term “420”.

In current times “420” has almost become a call to arms for marijuana activists. Large groups of people meeting on April 20th every year to smoke together and celebrate the plant and protest its illegality. The term can even now be seen in marijuana legislation with the California “Senate Bill 420” that regulated medical marijuana use in the state. As legalization spreads and cannabis use in the United States increases, the term "420" is becoming ever more popular and can be seen as references to cannabis culture in movies, tv shows, cartoons and more.


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