A Little bud
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Hands rolling a cannabis joint.

Cannabis EducationCommunity The History of 420

Apr 04, 2023

Do you know the origins of the term “420”? Here is a quick look at the history.

Common Origin Stories

There are plenty of ideas as to why the number 420 is associated with cannabis use. Some people say it’s because 4:20 is tea time in the Netherlands, a country famous for its weed. Others say it’s because there are 420 active chemicals in marijuana (there are actually likely more than that). Some folks even think that it refers to a lyric in Bob Dylan’s famous song “Rainy Day Women No. 12 & 35,” because 12 multiplied by 35 equals 420. Still more people say that “420” is the police code for marijuana use (it’s not and never has been).

The Most Widely Repeated Story

While the definite origins of 4/20 will always remain a mystery, this is the history that seems to have the most credibility.

Allegedly, in the early 1970s, a group of teenagers in San Rafael, California, found what seemed to be a treasure map leading to a secret abandoned weed patch somewhere nearby. Naturally, the group of friends were excited and wanted to find the treasure. They started meeting up after school every day at 4:20 PM to discuss their plans to find the weed patch (and, perhaps, share a joint while they were at it). “4:20” became their shorthand code for meeting to talk about the cannabis treasure hunt.

One of the teens’ older brothers happened to be the manager of popular band The Grateful Dead’s bassist. He used the term around the band and other Deadheads, and it soon caught on and became a popular term associated with smoking weed.

We don’t know for sure how much of this story is true, but it is the 4/20 history that has been the most widely accepted.

Fast forward a few decades later, and not only is the phrase “4:20” used universally to refer to cannabis use, but there is a popular holiday celebrated on April 20th, or “4/20” every year.

Celebrate 4/20 by Trying These Staff Picks

We recommend celebrating 4/20 in style with these stellar products.

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