The origins of 420 has nothing to do with Bob Marley, the chemical compounds in cannabis or police-speak for THC-related crimes.
While the date of April 20 is almost (without fail) associated with marijuana, no one actually knows the exact reason or the history behind it. Instead, it’s just an excuse for stoners to venture to Hyde Park in London and get illegally LIT.
In fact, the specific origins point back to the Year Of Our Lord 1970 AD and a group of friends known as ‘The Waldos’ who went on a treasure hunt for an abandoned cannabis crop.
The podcast Criminal attempted to unearth the true revelation of 420 after the Colorado Department of Transportation’s 420 mile sign post kept getting stolen (because stoner logic) – which they replaced with 419.99 mile markers.
It’s worth bearing in mind that Colorado was the first American state to legalise recreational use of marijuana.
Criminal’s host Pheobe Judge (who has excellent radio voice btw) spoke to Steve Capper and Dave Reddix, members of the original Waldo crew who got their name in ‘High’ School in Northern California.
They recounted the tale about their one of their friends who informed them of some weed that was grown by their his brother, who also worked in the coastguard.
Afraid that he was going to get busted by his C.O, the friend’s brother said that they can go and ‘pick it’. Along with his blessing they were given a drawn up map to find this herbal booty. When Steve approached Dave and the rest of their gang they said ‘of course’.
Dave went on to say:
We’re like teengae boys… free weed? Are you kidding?
Here’s where the origins of 420 spring to life, as they were still in High School (secondary school) some of the members had after school/extracurricular activities. So they all decided to meet at the Louis Pasteur statue on the grounds of San Rafael High School at 4:20 PM.
When they meet up they lit doobie, got blazed and hoped into Capper’s ’66 Chevy Impla and went on a road trip in search of free weed.
As Reddix put it:
It looked like a scene from Cheech And Chong’s… one their movies cause we’d get the whole car clouded up with smoke…
This would be something they would continue to do during their high school years, at 4:20 PM they would all meet up and go to their secret trove of free weed. Capper explained that they would spot each other in school and simply say ‘420 Louis’ and nod. It was their call sign, their secret code.
Although the 420 motif was privy only to the Waldos at the time, as the years went by their younger siblings, friends in lower year groups and people in their neighbourhood started to adopt the 420 catchphrase.
They would see ‘420 carved into benches and spray painted on walls’, that’s when they realised it had evolved beyond their group and ‘that there was something going on’.
A huge factor in the popularisation of 420 was the fact that Reddix’s brother was friends with the Grateful Dead’s bass player, Phil Lesh. It was the band’s close association with the city of San Rafael that 420 became a part of pop culture.
So whilst many have tried to claim themselves the originators of the ‘420 movement’, without anything tangible to back it up – Capper, Reddix and the rest of their Waldo compadres have ‘documented proof’ and ‘physical evidence’ to say otherwise.
Where is this so-called evidence you ask? Apparently, it’s locked safely away in a vault in San Fransisco.
So if you happen to be with someone who starts spouting off about how 420 was created by Snoop Dogg or some other theoretical bollocks, drop this OG certified knowledge on them.