Where Does the Phrase “420” Come From Anyway?
Today is the international pot smokers holiday also known as 420 (April 20th). Most people think that the term "420" comes from police code for "Marijuana Smoking in Progress" but that is completely wrong.
The term 420 actually came from a group of teenagers from California in the 1970's that called "the Waldos". Three of the five original members in the group were named Mark Gravitch, Dave Reddix and Steve Capper. They grew up around San Rafael in California. The story goes they received a map from a friend in the Coast Guard that would lead them to a large marijuana plant in the surrounding woods that he planted but could not take care of anymore.
Every day after school the group would meet up to search for the plant and meet at the Louis Pasteur statue at 4:20 pm after practice. The boys used the code "420" to talk about there activities without their teachers finding out. The original code was "420 Louis" but they eventually dropped the Louis for just "420", according to reports.
“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." said Steve Capper.
So how did that secret phrase spread to the rest of the world?
It turns out that the boys in the group were closely connected to the band The Grateful Dead. One of the boys brother was friends with the bands bassist Phil Lesh.
“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.” he told the Huffington Post.
In 1990 during the week of Christmas in Oakland, a reporter for High Times named Steven Bloom overheard the phrase at a Grateful Dead concert and found a flier with the origin story of the phrase on the back about the Waldos. He published the story and the rest is history.