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The Revolutionary Day That is 420: The Origins, Myths & Humble Beginnings of April Twentith

Updated on March 13, 2012
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420 Celebrations

No matter where 420 came from, or how it got started, it has certainly turned into quiet a celebration in many places all over the world. Everyday at 4:20 (am or pm) there is always someone somewhere who is quietly celebrating their inclusion in the cannabis culture. Every year on April 20th (4/20), people gather to party, protest and celebrate the one day of the year that isn't taken as any other holiday.

The number 420 (pronounced Four-Twenty) has become a symbol of the cannabis culture and responsible use everywhere, and is the code symbol for those that are proud to be a part of the marijuana movement. Whether it be for medicinal, recreational or freedom of choice purposes.

So where did this all start?

Myths & Legends

Police Code: This was the most popular myth that ran around the rumor mills when I was a teenager. It is still a common misconception, and it is thought that 4-20 is the police code. Some say it's the code for cannabis use in action. Others say it's a code for cannabis traffickers. Still others believe it's a code for marijuana raids about to take place.

April 20th: Some say that this day was actually dedicated to farmers, as a way of reminding themselves that this was their last chance to plant good crops for the summer. So the myth is that cannabis growers took this day as a way to get in a good summer crop of cannabis, though this was definitely before hydroponic growing overtook the culture.

Cannabis Compounds: Some believe that there are 420 chemical compounds that make up the DNA in the cannabis plant. While this is true in some newer strains of cannabis, most cannabis plants only hold around 315 compounds (give or take).

Bob Dylan's Song Rainy Day Woman #12 and 35: Some believe that Bob Dylan was using a math code in this song, as 12 x 35 equal 420. Not to mention the chorus "everybody must get stoned!"

Tea Time: Some believe that in Holland and/or Amsterdam, that 4:20pm is Tea Time. Though no one has been able to confirm this, as it appears that everyone celebrates tea time at different times.

Humble Beginnings

The most accurate origin for 420 was traced back to a group of young adults in California who called themselves "waldos". The met at a wall at 4:20pm and plotted to find a rumored cannabis crop that was left behind by some growers. They failed on their first attempt, and so it began that everyday at 4:20 pm, they continued to the search. By the time they finally gave up, the time of day had already spread quietly through the school they attended, until it became everything that it is today.

This origin was tracked down by High Times creative director Steven Hager, who published an article in 1998 declaring that 4:20 should become the official socially acceptable time for the cannabis culture to celebrate. He also promoted that the time of day should be dedicated to responsible use and education, and from there, the day 4/20 quickly became a major cannabis holiday.

Interesting Coincidences

April 20th also happens to be Hilter's birthday and the day that the Columbine shootings happened. So a lot of anti-cannabis pushers make sure that everyone is well aware of this. Though it's important to note that that 420 started out as a time of day to celebrate, not a day. It only made sense to take on the day 4/20 as well. As for the columbine shootings, 4/20 was already well celebrated as a stoner holiday before the shooting was even a thought.

Some other interesting coincidences:

*April 20th 1657 was the day that Jews in Amsterdam were granted Freedom of Religion

*April 20th 1775 was the day after the "shot heard round the world" and the official beginning of the American Revolutionary War. It was on 4/20/1775 that General Artemis Ward took over and led troops to a victory through blocking off the British troops all around Boston, Charlestown, Chelsea and Roxbury. This was known as the Siege of Boston, and was the first battle to let the British know that the American army was more than just a rabble of upset revolts.

*April 20th 1792 - France begins the French Revolutionary War

*April 20th 1871 - The Civil Rights Act of 1871 was passed to protect against heavy racial violence in the deep south.

*April 20th 1972 - Apollo 16 lands on the Moon

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