History of 420: When Did National Smoke out Day Begin?

Everybody has heard of 4/20, the national stoner holiday for getting high, but very few know the actual origin. Join Dime Bags for a quick history lesson as we uncover the history of 420.

The Origin of 4/20 & What It Means

What does 4/20 stand for? Well, a lot. It stands for a time of day as well as the date, April 20th, which is the unofficial stoner holiday around the world. For most of us though it’s always 4/20 somewhere, isn’t it? Most people don’t know how major U.S. holidays like Easter or Memorial Day began so it’s no surprise that the origins of 4/20 are shrouded in mystery. There’s plenty of myth and lore surrounding this epic stoner holiday, which makes uncovering its true origin even more illusive.

Today we’re clearing the fog and bringing you the real history of National Smoke Out Day. So roll on up and grab some munchies and join us for a brief history of 420.

High School Hippies in California

Four-twenty didn’t start as police-code or some secret lyric of an old B-side Bob Dylan record. It actually started with a bunch of high school kids in California. San Rafael Marin County to be exact. Oh, in case you didn’t know Marin County is one of the most affluent communities in the nation. That means “rich AF”!

The story sounds like any typical high school story. A group of young kids with nothing better to do than get high after school and raise hell. According to Time Magazine, one of these kids was named Dave Reddix. In 2017, he told the iconic publication the true origin of 4/20.

We got tired of the Friday-night football scene with all of the jocks. We were the guys sitting under the stands smoking a doobie, wondering what we were doing there.

Reddix told Time that he and his friends would meet by a statue of legendary chemist Louis Pasteur on the San Rafael High School Campus. They chose 4/20 because the extracurricular activities were usually over and everybody would be gone form campus. Dave named his group of 4 other coconspirators, as Steve Capper, Jeffrey Noel, Larry Schwartz, and Mark Gravich. The group became known as the “Waldos” because they could be found by a campus wall and would say “420” to each other as code for “lets get high”.

Grateful Dead & 4:20

The legend doesn’t end there though. How did 4/20 become known worldwide from a small group of stoners in San Rafael in 1971? Well, it took nearly 20 years to catch on, but according to High Times, you can thank the infamous jam band, The Grateful Dead.

Reddix’s brother got him a job as a roadie for Phil Lesh, the bass player of the band. Legendary cannabis culture authority and author, Steve Bloom, says the band had a huge hand in popularizing the term, which came from Reddix. Then something happened that would catapult 4/20 into the mass consciousness and cement 4/20 as national stoner holiday worldwide. At the end of 1990, a group of deadheads in Oakland decided to use the term 4/20 as a promotional idea.

They created a flyer that invited people to smoke “420”, code for weed, on April 20 at 4:20 pm. One of those flyers is said to have ended up with Bloom, who was a reporter for High Times at the time. When the cannabis culture magazine printed the flyer in 1991, well, the rest is history. Seven years later, in 1998 High Times confirmed in print once and for all that the “Waldos” were the originators of the term 4/20.

That confirmation was over 20 years ago, but still to this day stoner’s around the world don’t know where the holiday originated, much like many other holidays we celebrate. Hopefully, now that you know you will share it with your friends. Go forth and spread the word people, everyday is fo’-twenty!

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