A homegrown holiday all about celebrating cannabis, the phenomena of 4/20 grows larger and more mainstream every year. Learn about the origins of this high day, how it’s spread and evolved, and how you can make it a meaningful day for showing gratitude and connecting with community.
Originally created by “the Waldos,” a group of students in Marin who gathered at a statue of Louis Pasteur at 4:20 pm to go smoke and have adventures while searching for a lost guerilla garden, the idea of 4:20 as a time to smoke percolated through the area’s vibrant Deadhead scene during the 70s and 80s, slowly spreading through the counterculture. In the 1990s, this analog meme made its way to the offices of High Times, where editor Steve Bloom published a 420 flyer sourced from a Dead show, promoting the idea far and wide.
Initially useful as a code that signaled an interest in cannabis, “420-friendly” became accepted slang when searching for a roommate on Craigslist, popping up as a sly reference in movies including Pulp Fiction and Lost in Translation, where the clocks are set to this auspicious time. In the early 2000s, spontaneous smoke-outs on April 20 at 4:20 materialized on college campuses including University of Colorado Boulder and UC Santa Cruz, where the annual ritual has become one of the biggest headaches for administrators and a beloved tradition for students and locals.
Today, the mainstreaming of cannabis culture has transformed 4/20 into a day when everyone can kick back and roll up a jay, normalizing the practice of imbibing cannabis and providing an initiation opportunity for new users. Enormous events have capitalized on the notoriety of the day to throw cannabis-focused parties, protests and Snoop Dogg concerts, with more mainstream companies getting in on the festivities every year.
Beyond being simply an occasion to get high, 4/20 can also be adapted to suit your own purposes. Use it as a time to reconnect with old friends, see a concert, or simply meditate and focus on the feelings inspired by cannabis, including creativity, gratitude and relaxation. Let 4/20 inspire you to help legalize cannabis nationwide by engaging in political activism. You can join NORML, write a letter to someone in prison for weed, or donate to a worthy cannabis-related cause. While there’s nothing wrong with simply enjoying some quality cannabis, you can also use 4/20 to do more!
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