The 420's origins

Hello internet and welcome to behinds of the 420 genesis.

By Peggy Farmer

The number 420 more than likely you’re familiar with. That number yes it’s the number that comes right after 419 and before 421 but it has a whole different meaning that is a bit sticky-icky and pretty insightful under the right circumstances. It’s a date, it’s a time of the day, it’s slang and in today’s internet world it has also become associated with memes so let me explain to you its origins and history and just exactly why your older brother smells a little funky every day around that time.

“The story goes back in 1971 a group of San Rafael high school students known as the Waldos due to their hangout spot being against the wall right outside the school, came up with the term.”

4/20 has become synonymous with weed – pot – reefer – smoke – grass – herb – ganja – the dank. It has many names but one name that everybody can agree on is marijuana or as they liked to call it : the devil’s flower. You know the stuff that makes you have weird orgies, wild parties unleashes your passions of lust crime sorrow hate despair the assassin of youth ….nah just messing with you, the worst that this plant will do to you is to eat a whole pizza by yourself and in your nights watch cartoons and have you thinking they’re the most amazing thing you have ever seen in your life remember kids don’t do drugs so how exactly did 4/20 become associated with weed over the years that story has had many misconceptions and false facts associated with it. No 4/20 is not the code that cops use for weed, it isn’t the amount of chemical compounds found within pot, although over the years there has been much speculation about the origins of the term, it seems that the most reliable and agreed-upon story of its origin starts in the 1970s in the city of San Rafael California.

The story goes back in 1971 a group of San Rafael high school students known as “the Waldos” due to their hangout spot being against the wall right outside the school, came up with the term. The group became aware of an abandoned marijuana crop hidden in a nearby secluded area.

So they hatched a plan to locate the crop of plans each day after school. They would go in search for the plants together as a group, using the codename 420 Louie among each other to organize their meetings. 4:20 for the time of day that they would meet after school and Louie has a reference to the Louis Pasteur statue in front of their school.

So the Waldos would meet at the Statue of Louis each day at four-twenty, before taking off to search for the marijuana plants. Smoking numerous joints together on their adventures and having a fun time. Eventually they gave up their searches, which ended up being a failure, but they became accustomed to using the term that they created. Eventually dropping the lowest part of the phrase and keeping the 420 aspect of their code, which evolved to simply reference anything weed related in general among the members of their group.

The Waldos continued to use the term among each others, but eventually the term 4/20 spread beyond their small group with the help of the band The Grateful Dead, whose music and fans have heavy association with weed culture.

Members of the Waldos had a connection to the california-based band and began to often use the term around them and their circle of friends. Eventually it stuck with the band and they began to use it themselves, which caused their fans to use it and the cycle would continue with each and every single person helping it spread even further.

It wasn’t long before the term 4/20 became associated with weed for many people but numerous people point to the use of the term with in High Times Magazine throughout the 90s as being the catalyst to help make the term spread to a global level.

Nowadays, it is commonly used to refer to weed or weed culture by everybody of all ages and from all parts of the world the date of April 20th has even become an official marijuana holiday where people from all around the world light up whatever they have and forget their problems for the day.

Surely with the development of the internet and the widespread use of memes 4/20 has been adopted within them in so many ways, that it became a staple with the Major League Gaming and youtube memes oriented videos where it is often portrayed as a sort of parody of itself.

The culture surrounded by it has even evolved into a widely used multi-panel image which depicts various scenarios of characters or people living a normal plain and boring existence prior to 4/20 but when the clock hits 420 they break free from their shell and become a version of themselves that is far more exciting and that basic image based version of the meme has been used within videos as well usually accompanied with music that gets boosted at 4:20.

To further emphasize the time and transition of the subject to be honest: the uses of 420 within memes go on and on and on rather than becoming its own specific meme it has basically become an often used piece of the language that many people know of and can relate to whether or not they themselves are familiar with weed. So to sum up 420 started off as a code used within a small group of friends before evolving to a worldwide slang term used to reference everybody’s favorite pass time.

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