Gather ’round girls, it’s time for the story of 420!
Stoner lore is, IMO, one of the coolest things about cannabis culture.
What starts as truth quickly takes on a life of its own and becomes legend. That could’t be more true than the tall tale of how 420 became official stoner code.
Direct from the History Channel () here’s how it all went down:
It can all be traced back to a group of five California teens who used to hang out by a wall outside their San Rafael school—a meeting spot that inspired their nickname, “the Waldos. In the fall of 1971, the Waldos learned of a Coast Guard member who had planted a cannabis plant and could no longer tend to the crop. Provided with a treasure map (some say by the plant’s owner himself) supposedly leading to the abandoned product, the group would meet at the Louis Pasteur statue outside their high school at least once a week conduct a search. Their meeting time? 4:20 p.m, after practice (they were all athletes).
Student athletes and stoners? They were truly ahead of their time! We’d definitely be friends.
The Waldos would pile into a car, smoke some pot and scour the nearby Point Reyes Forest for the elusive, free herb. One of the original members of the Waldos, Steve Capper, told the Huffington Post, “We would remind each other in the hallways we were supposed to meet up at 4:20. It originally started out 4:20-Louis, and we eventually dropped the Louis.”
The story doesn’t stop there. How did a couple of treasure-hunting kids in Cali spread the 420 code word across the country? Here’s where the Grateful Dead come in.
Members of the Waldos had open access and many connections to the band [the Grateful Dead]. Mark Gravitch’s father managed the Dead’s real estate. Dave Reddix’s older brother was good friends with Dead bassist Phil Lesh and managed a Dead sideband. “There was a place called Winterland, and we’d always be backstage running around or on stage and, of course, we’re using those phrases. When somebody passes a joint or something, ‘Hey, 420.’ So it started spreading through that community.”
Now, it’s about to go global. Steven Bloom was at a Grateful Dead concert in 1990, on assignment as a reporter for High Times. In the parking lot before a show he was handed a flyer that read “We are going to meet at 4:20 on 4/20 for 420-ing in Marin County at the Bolinas Ridge sunset spot on Mt. Tamalpais.” Allegedly, the flyer told the origin story of 420, referencing the the Waldos of San Rafael.
Once the magazine got a hold of 420, it went worldwide.
We truly hope a documentary about the Waldos is in the works – but in the mean time, check out these cannabis coffee table books that make a perfect gift for your favorite stoner on 420, however you choose go celebrate.
What stories and legends do you know about 420? Let us know in the comments below!