What is 420?

What is 420

The term “420” holds significant cultural importance in the cannabis community. It has evolved from a secret code among high school students in the 1970s to an internationally recognized symbol of cannabis culture.

The Origins of 420

In 1971, a group of high school students in San Rafael, California, known as the Waldos, coined the term “4:20“. They used it to refer to their plan to search for an abandoned cannabis crop, choosing 4:20 pm as their meeting time at the Louis Pasteur statue on their school grounds. The phrase “4:20 Louis” eventually got shortened to “4:20” and began to signify consuming cannabis in general​​.

Steven Hager of High Times was instrumental in publicizing the story of the Waldos. The first mention of a 4/20 holiday in High Times appeared in May 1991, with the connection to the Waldos clarified in 1998. The phrase spread among Grateful Dead followers, further popularizing the term​​.

420 as a Global Cannabis Holiday

April 20th has transformed into an international counterculture holiday, celebrated through various events that advocate for the liberalization and legalization of cannabis. It’s seen as both a celebration and a call to action for cannabis rights​​. Cannabis activist Steve DeAngelo highlights that even if activism is no longer needed, 420 will remain a celebration of acceptance and the relationship humans share with the cannabis plant​​.

Cannabis Consumption Statistics

  • 12% of American adults smoked marijuana in 2021, with 52 million Americans consuming marijuana by the end of 2022​​.
  • This trend has been increasing, with only about 28 million users in 2012, expected to rise to 71 million by 2030​​.
  • Millennials are the largest consumer group of cannabis, with 51% having tried marijuana​​.
  • Gender-wise, 15% of adult men smoke weed compared to 9% of women​​.

Celebrating 420: Event Highlights

  • 420 Hippie Hill: Held in the Bay Area, this event is known for its music, exotic brands, and community spirit. It often features notable hosts and live streaming for broader access​​.
  • Cannescape: This event offers a wellness retreat vibe with educational experiences, CBD cocktails, and a plant medicine dinner set against a luxurious backdrop​​.
  • Willie Nelson’s 90th Birthday Celebration: This event combines music and cannabis culture, featuring performances by renowned artists like Snoop Dogg and Neil Young​​.


The story of 420 exemplifies how a simple code among friends can evolve into a global symbol. Its transformation from a clandestine meeting time to an international day of celebration reflects the changing attitudes towards cannabis, from counterculture to mainstream acceptance. As cannabis legalization continues to spread, 420 will likely remain a key date in the calendar of cannabis enthusiasts worldwide.