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The Real History of 4/20 is Still Being Written

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Overheard at the average sesh on 4/20:

“It’s Bob Marley’s birthday, man.

Nah, it’s the LAPD radio code for pot….or was it San Fran?

It actually started with that Bob Dylan song “Rainy Day Woman #12 & 35” where he says “Everybody must get stoned” because 12×35=420

Not Dylan, it was The Grateful Dead because they insisted on staying in room 420 in every hotel when on the road…”

There are very few facts flying around 4/20 and its relationship to marijuana, and though the stories above have nothing to do with the origin of the holiday, they and others like them have certainly done their part to add to the mystery and the legend.

The most commonly accepted story, which has checked out and has survived the test of time, dates back to the early 1970’s.

The cars were fast, the women were faster, fashion kind of sucked and the weed…well, there were probably some exceptions but the weed might have sucked too. But hey, it was the 70’s and there were still plenty of people rolling it up and burning it down.

Blazing cannabis just so happened to be the preferred pastime for a fine group of young men who called themselves “The Waldos”, attending San Rafael High School in the Bay Area of Northern California.

These fellas would make a plan each day to meet up at a local monument to spark a doob, often exchanging brief codes like “4:20 Luis” to each other as they passed in the halls of their high school, indicating a meetup at twenty after four at the Luis Pasteur statue.

The thing is, the San Francisco Chronicle recently caught up with some members of The Waldos, now in their 60’s and even they admit that the trend we see today could not have started with their after-school activities alone.

The SF Chron goes on to make a lanky link to the Grateful Dead, then a hop to High Times Magazine.

There is no doubt that High Times has played a large role in the iconic date – and all that it stands for – entering the American lexicon.

But then you’ve got their flagship Cannabis Cup events, for example. “The show will go on,” they said after reports from this website up to NBC News said they were denied the proper permit for their annual 4/20 Cannabis Cup that was scheduled to be held this April 20th-22nd in San Bernardino.

It appears the show is going on, with reports of laser tag arenas and petting zoos installed to replace huge chunks of the typical farmer’s market style environment of booth after booth after booth offering up Cali’s finest cannabis at discount prices.

Meanwhile, the mainstream television media is riding high on the 4/20 wave with jovial weed references by everyone from sports reporters to political pundits.

“Today is my personal favorite holiday of the year,” announced MSNBC host John Heilemann earlier today to kick off the midday national news broadcast.

Hell yeah, Heilemann! It’s ours too!

While High Times execs scratch their heads trying to figure out how on Earth they screwed up selling weed to weed lovers, newscasters are stopping juuuust short of doing one gram dabs live on air.

That is the real story of 4/20 – that it is constantly changing and evolving, and by doing so, is starting to steer our culture as a whole.

This blunt’s for you, Beard Bros. fam!


(Cover image Flickr Commons)

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