Top 4/20 Myths: The Truth Behind the Stoner Holiday

Top 4/20 Myths: The Truth Behind the Stoner Holiday

Published on 4/6/21

It's springtime, which means that our favorite holiday is on the horizon for all things marijuana. The 4/20 holiday is one that holds a plethora of meaning and myths around it, but it is safe to say that most aren't aware of how it all actually began. In a time where conspiracy theories and rumors are swirling like never before, we've broken down all of the urban legends and even discovered the origin of 4/20. This April at your yearly stoner party, you can impress your friends by knowing the actual meaning of this mysterious holiday. 

Where Did 4/20 Come From? 


Everyone loves a good fun fact, and there are so many that surround the 4/20 holiday. Before we entertain the fluff and crazy ideas of where and how this holiday originated, let's get to the facts. 

To state simply, it all started with a group of kids at San Rafael High School in the 1970s, who were just looking to get stoned and not get caught while doing it. Little did they know, they were going to create a holiday that is still celebrated 50+ years later. According to Chris Conrad, a curator at the Oaksterdam Cannabis Museum in Oakland, California, 420 was simply a secret code between friends. 

These five high school comrades, who called themselves the "Waldos", used this code 420 to meet up outside to light up, specifically by the Louis Pasteur statue on the school grounds, at 4:20 pm. They would sometimes say "420 Louis" to signal the great exodus outside to roll out and smoke up. So, the next time someone asks, "what does 420 mean?", you'll be able to hit the nail right on the head with the facts. 

Why is 420 Weed Day?


Sure, these high school kids were credited with the start of the use of 420, but they needed a bit of help to launch it into the international holiday that it is today. You may have heard some stories about the Grateful Dead, but where do they come into play? 

Remember, the Waldos hung out in the 70s, and the Grateful Dead were huge at this point. One of the "Waldos" was lucky enough to become a roadie for the bassist, Phil Lesh, which ultimately helped popularize the term. They helped call for the time to consume cannabis to be 4:20 pm. One specific show on December 28, 1990, "Deadheads" were handing out flyers to smoke 420 on 4/20 at 4:20 pm. This was eventually picked up by one of the biggest names in cannabis media, High Times, which launched this holiday to the masses. The rest is history.

The Urban Legends of 4/20

Police Radio Codes 


Fact or Fiction: Fiction

This is probably the most popular urban legend surrounding the holiday, but unfortunately, there is no truth to it. It was believed that 420 was a part of their radio codes, but NYPD and LAPD don't even have a code for 420. SFPD does in fact have one, but it is for juvenile disturbance. 

Bob Dylan Song

Fact or Fiction: Fiction

This myth definitely gets points for being on the creative side. Bob Dylan has a song titled, "Rainy Day Women #12 and #35". Someone realized that 12 multiplied by 35 equals 420, which means that must be where the holiday name is derived from. It's a bit of stretch, but a fun one to think about, nevertheless.

Adolf Hitler Connection

Fact or Fiction: Fiction

There are many questions circulating about this infamous ruler. How did Hitler die? When was his birthday? Due to the fact that Hitler's birthday is on 4/20, people thought that there was a connection to this stoner holiday. However, this is not where the name for the holiday originated, which is probably for the best.

California Senate Bill

Fact or Fiction: Fact (Mostly!)

The California Senate Bill 420 established the medicinal weed program in California.  While this bill is not the originator of the term, there is a connection. The idea of 420 was already swirling for about a decade when the bill was passed in 2003 and serves as a nice nod to the culture of cannabis. This bill was a huge win for the community as it enhanced the access of patients and caregivers to medical marijuana. 

Bob Marley Inspired


Fact or Fiction: Fiction

Bob Marley, who was a lover and pioneer of cannabis, is often spoken on when 420 comes around. Some people claim that 4/20 was the day he died or the day he was born. Both, unfortunately, are false. This is often repeated with members of the "27 Club" and their births/deaths, which are also false. 

Grateful Dead Connection

Fact or Fiction: Fact (Partially)

Like we touched on above, the Dead effectively helped spread the idea of 420 across the globe, launching what the Waldo's had started in San Rafael, California. However, there are myths circulating that the Dead always stayed in room 420 on tour, which is false. 

Albert Hofmann Connection

Fact or Fiction: Fiction

This Swiss chemist is credited with being the first known person to synthesize, ingest and learn of the psychedelic LSD. In his recorded notes, Hofmann took his first deliberate trip on April 19th, 1943 at 4:20 pm. Unfortunately, there is no connection, but it is a crazy coincidence. 

Fact: Where's Weed is Giving Away Over $1,000 Worth of Prizes for 420

Now that you know the truth behind 420, you're ready to celebrate with The Ultimate 4/20 Giveaway! Where's Weed is celebrating 420 by giving a few lucky winners some amazing cannabis-inspired prizes. We've partnered with our friends at StashlogixCBD Infusionz, LEVOTerpy J's and Letter Shoppe to give away some incredible prizes (that can legally be shipped to all 50 states)! Click here to find out how you can win!

Did you know the true origin story of 420? Have you ever heard or spoken about some of the urban legends mentioned above? Sound off in the comments below. 

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