What is 420?

What is 420? What does 420 mean? Who Started it? There are varying theories on the origin of 420. Some say that 420 originated from a police code that announces marijuana use is taking place. Yet another story is that a group of guys (Waldo’s) in the 1970’s made 4:20 their official meeting time to smoke marijuana after school. Whether or not 4:20 p.m. is the best time of day for your first hit depends on your own body, your own needs. Some folks feel that waiting until 4:20 enhances ones appreciation of the herb. Of course, your mileage may vary.

In the 21st Century, 420 is firmly established as a code among tokers, a time of day and even sort of a toker’s New Year’s Day. It’s in our culture now and only time will tell where it ends up.

October 2012 Update: Well, it’s possible the true beginning of 420 has been discovered. Rob Griffen over at 420 Magazine was contacted by a guy in California who said he knew the true meaning of 420. After some research it appears this could be it.

On a Saturday afternoon back in October 1970, a stoner by the name Brad Bann (AKA “The Bebe”) uttered the words , “It’s 4:20, time for bong loads.” After that, he began to throw “420” around in a slew of comical ways and it eventually stuck being used as a “neighborhood code” for use in front of parents and non-smokers.

If you would like to learn more: The True Meaning of 420?

April 20th (4/20) is another usage, meaning that it is time for to plant before the summer.

Whatever the real story is, 420 has been an important part of the marijuana culture since the 1970’s. The significance of 420 has been kept underground and is mostly known only among marijuana smokers. Many non-smokers aren’t aware of the symbolism when they see someone wearing a T-shirt or baseball cap that says 420 across the front.

When the 420 icon is somehow discreetly worked into a mainstream product like a film, marijuana users take notice. The film Pulp Fiction is rumored to have had all clocks throughout the movie set to 4:20.

While some marijuana smokers are using 420 as a code that enables them to openly speak about marijuana in front of parents or teachers, 420 is too many, a sacred symbol representing 30 years of underground cannibis culture.

Today, April 20th events are international, and 4:20 pm has become sort of a world wide “burn time”.

Known 420 Myths

  • Police dispatch code for smoking pot is 420.
  • The number 420 is not police radio code for anything, anywhere. (Checks of criminal codes suggest that the origin is neither Californian nor federal. For instance, California Penal Code 420 defines as a misdemeanor the hindrance of use of public lands.)
  • There are approximately 420 active chemicals in marijuana. (Actually, there are approximately 315 active chemicals in marijuana. This number goes up and down depending on which plant is used)
  • April 20th is National Pot Smokers Day. (Well, it is now :) ; but that wasn’t the origin.)
  • April 20th is Hitler’s birthday. (Yes, it is his birthday. But, as 420 started out as a time, not a date, his birthday had nothing to do with it.)
  • The date of the Columbine school shootings. (This happened after the term was already in use.)
  • 4:20 is tea time for pot-smokers in Holland. (Tea time in Holland is at 5:30 pm, or is it 2:30 pm? Seems no one is quite sure when the wonderful people of Holland drink their tea.)