The Origins of 420

April 22, 2017

If you’d prefer a video over a blog post, you can find our video on the origins of 420 here.


420 is a number and tradition firmly cemented into cannabis culture, and 4:20 pm is high-time to smoke marijuana. Translated to the calendar, April 20th has become the unofficial holiday for cannabis connoisseurs and laymen alike. Many cannabis dispensaries capitalize on this holiday every year by offering special discounts and deal to help members of the community better celebrate the occasion. However, if you were to ask anybody what they’re actually celebrating on 4/20, you’d get a litany of conflicting reports and theories. 

Some believe that 420 is famous because it’s the California police code for marijuana infractions. Some think it’s Bob Marley’s birthday. Other theories are more far fetched and intricate, like that it came from Bob Dylan’s song “Rainy Day Woman #12 and #35”, as those numbers multiply to 420. Some go so far as to say that we celebrate 420 because it’s Adolf Hitler’s birthday, because he had a history experimenting with psychoactive substances.

As wild and entertaining as these theories are, none of them are in fact true. The California Health and Safety Code for possession of marijuana is 11357b, there are at least 483 known chemical compounds in marijuana, and Bob Dylan did not invent 420. Adolf Hitler was, in fact, born on April 20th, but lets just say this one is false as well and leave it at that.

The truth involves some high school kids, the US Coast Guard, and a buried stash of cannabis. In the fall of 1971 Steve Capper, Dave Reddix and the rest of their high school gang, nicknamed ‘The Waldos’, caught wind of this buried stash of cannabis and its potential whereabouts. The rumor was that an employee of the Coast Guard, a connoisseur of cannabis himself, had buried a large stash of his private stock in fear that he would be found out by his boss. And so, the legend was born.

"The Waldos™ all agreed to meet at 4:20 p.m. at the statue of chemist Louis Pasteur on the campus of San Rafael High. They met, got high, and drove out to search for the patch." –

When they passed each other in the hallways of San Rafael High School, they would whisper '420 Louie' as a reminder of the meeting, and code for good times to come. Eventually, they dropped the 'Louie' and the saying became '420.'


The stash was never found, but the term survived and quickly permeated the cannabis culture, gaining ubiquitous use shortly after.


The Waldos have since launched a website, designed to lay claim to the term. You can find out more at


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