Did You Know: 420

April 20th may seem like any other day, but for some reason the date and number “420” is associated with pot smokers everywhere. If you’re also curious as to why this is, then you’re in the right place! Many smokers are aware of the number, but still have no idea where it came from. With April 20th upon us, there’s no better time to learn about the origins of 420 and become part of the stoner community’s best inside joke. Let’s uncover the real truth behind the number…

420 Plant

The original meaning of the term “420” is still a matter of some debate. The only thing that the stoner community can agree upon is that 420 has evolved to represent a time of day (4:20am & 4:20pm) that is meant for smoking. The time being either right before breakfast in the morning or right after work or school is over for the day in the early afternoon.

Myths & Legends

Myths and legends are apparently rampant in the stoner community. Some myths include the idea that 420 represents the number of active chemicals in marijuana, but this is factually untrue.  There are approximately 500 chemicals in the marijuana plant depending on which part of the plant is used. Although there’s many chemicals, the main active chemical that is very well known in the stoner community is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC is what causes the euphoria that is experienced after smoke is inhaled.

It is also argued that April 20th is Hitler’s birthday and, ipso facto, all pot smokers are Nazi’s. This is just flat out not true. Yes, it’s a coincidence that it is also Hitler’s birthday, but 420 started out as a time, not a date. His birthday has nothing to do with it.


420 Time

According an editor of High Times Magazine, the term 420 originated at San Rafael High School in 1971. A group of about a dozen pot-smokers known as the Waldos used the term as shorthand for the time of day they would meet at the campus statue of Louis Pasteur to smoke pot. Intent on developing their own discreet language, they made 420 code for a time to get high, and its use spread among members of an entire generation. While our teens may feel like they know something we don’t, you can let them in on the fact that your generation came up with the numbers.

This explanation for 420’s origin is widely accepted by the stoner community, but it’s meaning has certainly evolved since then. 420 is no longer used strictly to note the time of day to smoke. Instead, it’s used broadly to talk about marijuana use and is a globally recognized symbol of pot culture. Even today’s date 4/20 has become somewhat of a stoner holiday. In summation, 420 allows people to support a plant, ideology and community without blowing smoke in your face. And the fact that this number has unified so many people from such different backgrounds is a testament to the power of thinking green!

Did you know the origin of 420, or do you have a different explanation? If so, let me know in the comments and don’t forget to smoke responsibly! If you’re a concerned parent, please read THIS ARTICLE which goes over the warning signs of teen drug use. Happy Toking!

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