420. Some say this sacred three-digit number was founded in the early ‘70s when a group of high school students met at 4:20 each day to smoke weed after class. Others maintain 420 was once the California police code for “Marijuana Smoking in Progress.” No matter where 420 got its start, each year we gather in anticipation to celebrate our love of all things cannabis on this holiest of high days.
Observing 420 may look different this year. Chances are you won’t be gathering with friends at your favorite spot to pass a joint; you probably won’t be heading to the nearest ganja event either — most events have been canceled or moved online. But that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy 420 just as you do each and every year. You’ve still got questions, and we’ve still got answers.
Let’s take a break from the world’s gloomy tone to learn more about all-things 420. From the hazy history of this special day to using cannabis in the midst of a pandemic, this is your all-inclusive guide to 420.
What is 420?
420 has a storied place in cannabis history. For many marijuana enthusiasts, April 20th, or 4/20, signifies a special time of year to celebrate cannabis, fight for drug policy changes, head to cannabis festivals or events, or simply kick back and relax with friends.
420 means something different to everyone. Some consider it a time of day, others a day of the year, and some even believe 420 is a lifestyle in itself. While the rumors will forever circulate about the origins of 420, most believe it originated in 1971 at San Rafael High School, 30 minutes north of San Francisco.
There, a group of five students nicknamed “the Waldos” heard rumors that a local U.S. Coast Guardsman had abandoned a budding cannabis crop somewhere in the forest on the Point Reyes Peninsula, not far from the school. Not wanting to jeopardize his career, the Guardsman left his plants behind, but not before passing along a detailed map of its location that eventually made its way to the Waldos.
The Waldos were athletes in high school, so they planned to meet each day after practice at their school’s Louis Pasteur statue before venturing off to find the grow. The time they planned to meet each day? You guessed it — 4:20 p.m. They’d smoke copious amounts of bud together before heading into the local forest with their map, searching for the lost grow.
The search continued for weeks. Each time they passed one another in the hallways, “4:20 Louie” was whispered as a reminder to meet up when practice ended. The phrase was later shortened to “4:20.” Unfortunately, the secret grow was never found. But that didn’t stop 420 from finding its own place in history.
This was all happening as The Grateful Dead relocated from San Francisco to San Rafael. One of the Waldo’s older brothers, who managed two Grateful Dead sidebands, was close friends with bassist Phil Lesh, which gave the Waldos access to Grateful Dead shows, rehearsals, and parties. Soon the phrase 420 was spreading throughout the Grateful Dead community. High Times caught wind of the phrase and started using it in the ‘90s, and things have never been the same since.
Today, 420 has established itself as an irrefutable cultural reference. From social media hashtags to celebrational tattoos, it now serves as a source of happiness, inspiration, and inclusion. 420 festivals, legalization rallies, and gatherings with your friends all fall under the 420 umbrella. And it’s for this reason that we celebrate 420 each year on April 20th.
What to Do On 4/20
If you thought a global pandemic could sully the 420 festivities, think again. Though public health considerations have stopped us from gathering this year, there are countless livestreams, concerts, and seshes still happening on 4/20 that you can be a part of.
If you’re just looking to celebrate with friends from faraway places, take a look at the best chat apps that turn social distancing into distant socializing. Video calling apps provided by Facebook, Google, Skype, and others can make a big world feel smaller as you all pop a squat in front of the camera and toke to your heart’s content. You may be socially distancing this 420, but that doesn’t mean you have to celebrate alone.
If celebrating 420 in solidarity is your thing, options abound that can keep your high mind entertained. From stoner movie marathons to seven things you can do while you’re stoned and social distancing, there are plenty of ways to keep your spirits high.
The 420 Essentials
When you’re celebrating 420, you’re going to need the 420 essentials. Whether you’re rolling a joint with the roommates or cooking up delicious cannabis recipes, whether you’re a newbie asking some common cannabis questions or a practiced pothead, Diem is here to help you get the most out of it.
What are the best cannabis strains for beginners? What should you know before taking your first 4/20 dab? And how long does a cannabis high last anyway? Start on the right foot with foundational facts about cannabis. These articles break it all down.
Home baking is on the rise, thanks to coronavirus. At least, that’s what The Economist had to say as sales of flour, yeast, and other baking ingredients soared in the wake of social distancing. No matter what you’re baking, cannabis and cooking go hand in hand. Whip out your Kitchen Aid on 420 to do a little baking that’ll get you baked with some of our favorite cannabis recipes below.
Cannabis and COVID
This 420 is going to be a weird one, no matter how you look at it. Use the resources below to learn more about COVID and how it will impact your relationships with cannabis. Wondering if your dispensary is open? Many dispensaries and brands are offering free delivery with a minimum purchase price to ensure you abide by social distancing rules and remain safe. For instance, Diem is delivering to customers throughout Portland and Salem, Oregon. Others in your locale may be doing the same.
The world may look different these days, but 420 prevails. As a date well-known amongst cannabis enthusiasts and newbies alike, 420 represents the all-inclusive, free-spirited, and diverse plant that is cannabis. Whether you’re celebrating 420 with friends or paying salutations solo, remember that you’re part of a larger community. And we’re here for you, always. So light up a joint, pack a bowl, or down an edible — let’s celebrate 420 as we always have.