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What is #420 really all about? All you need to know about Marijuana Holiday

What is #420 really all about? All you need to know about Marijuana Holiday

If you’re one of the tinfoil hats types who hold on to the idea that everything is connected and nothing is random, you probably get a sick pleasure from knowing that 4:20 was once an actual police code for marijuana smoking. The origin of the term, however, is unclear. Some say it was California police code for weed smoking; others say there’s no definitive answer and instead attribute it to being a nod to a time when people would meet up every Sunday afternoon to smoke pot in secret.

The Grateful Dead connection is more tenuous but still relevant: they used 4/20 as a meeting time back in their early days.

4/20’s Movement- will marijuana legalization change cannabis 

It’s been almost 40 years since cannabis was first legalized in the United States. Though it’s been a wild ride to get here, legalization is a certainty. And although many of the arguments against legalization are still valid (some of them even more related today than they were when they were initially put forth), people like me who smoke marijuana need not worry about the societal consequences of smoking pot anymore. Legalized pot means that we can now buy it in regulated places, own and grow our own weed wherever we want, and have the freedom to do so without consequences.

Although this day has become mainstream over time (thanks mainly to marketing campaigns pushed by cannabis advocacy groups), it started as something very different from what you see today. It was initially planned as an anti-drug event held on April 20, 1970, by the group Students for a Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP). The name came from Timothy Leary’s comment during one of his lectures at Harvard University stating, “LSD will be available everywhere on April 20…you just have to know where to get it,” which gained popularity when reported by AP Wire Service.


If you haven’t heard of 420, 420, or 4:20, you probably don’t live in a state with legal weed. But what exactly is 420? Has it always been about getting high? And how did April 20 become the official marijuana holiday?

Like St. Patrick’s Day, the 4/20 holiday has become a commercialized celebration of marijuana, with companies like Invest In Cannabis capitalizing on the opportunity.

It’s all explained in this brief history of the pot puns, pro-pot activism, and stoner celebrations that have come to dominate the American calendar every April 20.

4/20 is becoming a commercial event

Companies are cashing in on the marijuana holiday. 4/20 is becoming a day for brands to show their support for cannabis, but this creates mixed feelings for some people. There’s concern that some companies will use the holiday for profit without showing any real commitment to cannabis culture. More companies are getting involved and celebrating 4/20 as an opportunity to connect with customers and join in on the national conversation about legalization.

But now that marijuana is legal in nine states and counting, the stoner holiday is getting even more attention: Edible-pot companies are already devising products that merge their favorite strains of weed with their favorite snacks, according to a profile in Vice.

With the mainstreaming of cannabis, we’ll see even more involvement from companies next year.


The original 4/20 celebration was a student pot-smoking get-together at San Rafael High School in 1971. The gathering was ostensibly to search for an abandoned cannabis crop located somewhere near the Point Reyes Peninsula Coast Guard station, a plot that was never found but nonetheless led to a productively stoned time.

The term “420” (pronounced four-twenty) has its origins in a group of high school students who’d meet up after school to smoke weed, and there are several competing theories about how exactly it entered the lexicon. The story goes that one member of this stoner clique had connections with workers at a local branch of the Grateful Dead’s production team. Those workers were said to have purchased cannabis from a grower by the name of 420 Louis, and all it took was one overheard conversation for legend to be born: 420 became shorthand for marijuana—and, as time passed, 4:20 became code for “we’re gonna get high, now.”


If you want to have fun on holiday, we’d advise you to smoke a little pot. And by “a little,” we mean enough to get high. Or, if you don’t like cannabis, find something else that makes you feel good and go for it. We’re not here to judge.

Ways to celebrate

  • Go to a 4/20 event. Depending on where you live, there are usually parades, rallies, and other cannabis-related events that occur on 4/20.
  • Host an event of your own. If your community doesn’t have an official 4/20 celebration and you want some like-minded people to hang out with, throw one yourself! Invite all the cannabis-loving friends you know over for dinner or drinks and light up when the clock strikes 4:20 pm.
  • Have a movie night (or day). You can watch plenty of great movies that feature cannabis use—” Friday,” “Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle,” “Half Baked”—the list is endless! Watch one of these stoner classics with some friends, or put on whatever tickles your fancy for the day and enjoy it with a bowl full of popcorn (and maybe something more).

Watch a weed documentary

If you’re not too baked to move, you could stream a documentary about weed. There are plenty of them out there—you just have to know where to look. Netflix has a lot, like “The Culture High” and “Super High Me” (which is also on Hulu).

Geek out on a marijuana podcast

Listening to a podcast is undoubtedly a great way to spend your time. It’s like having a teacher in your pocket who you can ask questions whenever you want to know the answers.

It makes sense that famous comedian/actor/cannabis enthusiast Joe Rogan has his own show about marijuana. What else would he talk about? This podcast is three hours long, so it could probably be considered “THE LONGEST PODCAST IN THE UNIVERSE” if they wanted to get technical and put it on their business card. This is one of the most downloaded shows on iTunes, and guests include people like Elon Musk, Alex Jones, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, and many other public figures and big names.

Try some cannabis recipes

What is a marijuana holiday without some cannabis-laced foods? While you can find dispensaries around the country that sell edibles, it’s easy to make your own. You can add cannabis butter or oil to anything you’d cook in your kitchen (chocolate chip cookies, brownies, and other baked goods are common). You can also make cannabis tea by heating water, adding butter or oil, and steeping your favorite herbal blend before straining. And if you need more ideas, there are tons of recipes all over the internet.

Learn about pot etiquette

It’s 4/20, the unofficial National Day of Pot. Many people celebrate the holiday by lighting up a joint or eating an edible.

In California, people over the age of 21 can own up to an ounce of marijuana, grow six plants at home and give away up to an ounce as a gift.

But how do you know how much is an ounce? How do you measure it? And what happens if the police stop you?

If you want to be a respectful pot user, here are the rules of etiquette to follow:

At a dinner party: As long as you respect your host, are a responsible smoker, and keep it away from kids, bringing weed to a dinner party is acceptable. It’s also OK if you don’t want to partake.

Giving it as a gift: It’s polite not to spring cannabis on someone who doesn’t use it and maybe uncomfortable. In this case, consider making edibles or buying accessories instead.

Consumption in public: To avoid offending those around you, know that smoking in public places is illegal and should be avoided.

How to behave at a dispensary: It’s like any other retail store — except salespeople can’t legally smoke or get high while working. Don’t bother them if they look busy or distracted, and remember that salespeople are there to help guide you through the method of purchasing marijuana.

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