A symbol in the cannabis community that can be used to reference anything having to do with cannabis. It can mean the time of day to consume weed, 4:20 a.m. or p.m., the date, April 20, a celebration of cannabis, or anything having to do with cannabis, for example, “420-friendly.”
“It’s 4:20. Let’s smoke that joint.”
“420 is going to be crazy at work this year.”
History of 420
The term “420” was originally coined in 1971 by a group of friends at San Rafael High School in California nicknamed “The Waldos.” This group of friends heard a rumor of an abandoned cannabis field somewhere in the forest of the Point Reyes Peninsula, and decided to go looking for it one day. The adventure included smoking copious amounts of cannabis while searching the nearby forest. It just so happened that the time was 4:20 p.m.
They were unsuccessful at finding the weed field, however, 420 eventually became their code word for consuming cannabis. One of The Waldos would end up going on tour with The Grateful Dead, and the phrase caught on in that community, eventually getting picked up by High Times magazine, where it was then spread to the broader cannabis community in the early ‘90s.
The term “420” may have started as a reference to a specific time, but it has since grown to become a symbol that encompasses all things cannabis: You can see it on the signs of protestors fighting for marijuana legalization, and you might even find it in the description of a rental property: “420-friendly.”
Considering the prohibition of the cannabis plant for so long and the propaganda campaign against the plant, it makes sense that a phrase would emerge to help people talk about cannabis without gaining unwanted attention, and 420 serves as this catchall. Most notably, April 20th (4/20) has become the official holiday all over the world.