The Real Origin of 420

The Real Origin of 420

We’ve all heard of the term “420” before, but have you ever wondered where it actually originated from? Many people have speculated and guessed, but it turns out, most answers you find on the internet regarding the history of 420 are incorrect. 

A quick Google search will turn up answers such as:

“420 was the code police used for ‘Marijuana Smoking in Progress’”

“There are 420 active chemicals in marijuana.”

“It’s a reference to Bob Dylan’s ‘Rainy Day Women No. 12 & 35’”


In reality, it all started with a group of high school boys in California in the 1970’s called “The Waldos.” 


The group of five teens discovered a mystery of sorts. It was rumored that there was a crop of marijuana plants in a nearby forest, planted by a local man in the National Guard who was too afraid to harvest it. They were given a treasure map, with clues on how to reach these plants. At least once per week, the teens would meet up at 4:20pm and scour the forest for the crops. 


But how did a group of teens create a term that would spread worldwide? They actually had connections to the Grateful Dead. They frequented the backstage area at the band’s shows, and the phrase “420” began spreading like a virus among their fans.


Turns out, the kids never found the hidden smoke in the woods, but they did create a new slang term that would carry on for decades to come.