420: Cannabis Celebration Day

Image  by  Jurassic Blueberries , courtesy of  Creative Commons  licensing.

Image by Jurassic Blueberries, courtesy of Creative Commons licensing.

April 20th (also known as “420” in cannabis counterculture) is considered a day of reverence and celebration for people who have a relationship with cannabis. 420 has other meanings, including the times of day that cannabis consumers often imbibe the plant during the day (4:20 AM or PM), the act of smoking cannabis, etc. The origin story of 420 is controversial, with several opposing groups claiming that they originally founded the holiday.

Perhaps the most accepted story is that of the Waldos, a group of high school students in San Rafael, California in the early 1970s. The story is that the group chose to meet at a wall (hence the “Waldos”) outside their school at 4:20 PM each day after school in order to toke up and search for a rumored nearby cannabis crop.

Other stories include the number originating as a police code that announces cannabis use is taking place, April 20th being the primo day to plant an outdoor cannabis grow before the summer, or that there are 420 active chemicals in cannabis. However, criminal codes (both federal and Californian) do not correlate with cannabis-related crimes, gardening schedules can vary by location, and there are approximately 315 active chemicals in cannabis. Besides, the term “420” supposedly originated as a time, not a signifier of anything in particular or a date.

Regardless of the term's true origin story, 420 is now synonymous with cannabis and is well-known even outside of the cannabis community. If you are looking for a way to celebrate today, I would suggest learning more about cannabis from sites like Erowid and NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws). Arming oneself with knowledge is always a great use of time! If you do choose to imbibe today, please be safe and smart—although the plant has very little negative effects compared to most psychoactive substances, it is still important to make good decisions while journeying with cannabis.