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420 Day: Origins were in “X Marks the Spot’”

April 20, known in recreational cannabis culture as 420 Day has become a date for world-wide protest and celebration. But where does the terminology arise from for this “counter-culture day” that has turned into a global celebration for cannabis.

According to Wikiedia: The story goes that in n 1971, five high school students in San Rafael, California,[5][6] used the term “4:20” in connection with a plan to search for an abandoned cannabis crop, based on a treasure map made by the grower.[7][8] Calling themselves the Waldos,[9][10]because their typical hang-out spot “was a wall outside the school”,[11] the five students — Steve Capper, Dave Reddix, Jeffrey Noel, Larry Schwartz, and Mark Gravich[12] —designated the Louis Pasteur statue[13] on the grounds of San Rafael High School as their meeting place, and 4:20 pm as their meeting time.[11] The Waldos referred to this plan with the phrase “4:20 Louis”. After several failed attempts to find the crop, the group eventually shortened their phrase to “4:20”, which ultimately evolved into a code-word the teens used to refer to consuming cannabis.[7]

Steven Hager of High Times was responsible for popularizing the story of the Waldos.[14] The first High Times mention of 4:20 smoking and a 4/20 holiday appeared in May 1991,[15] and the connection to the Waldos appeared in December 1998. Hager attributed the early spread of the phrase to Grateful Dead followers[16] – after “Waldo” Reddix became a roadie for the Grateful Dead‘s bassist, Phil Lesh[12] – and called for 4:20 pm to be the socially accepted time of the day to consume cannabis.[16]

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