420 (cannabis culture)
420, 4:20, or 4/20 (pronounced four-twenty) is a code-term in cannabis culture that refers to the consumption of cannabis, especially smoking cannabis around the time 4:20 p.m./a.m. (or 16:20 in 24-hour notation) and smoking and celebrating cannabis on the date April 20 (which is 4/20 in U.S. form).
|Observed by||Cannabis counterculture, legal reformers, entheogenic spiritualists|
In 1971, Steve Capper, Dave Reddix, Jeffrey Noel, Larry Schwartz, and Mark Gravich, five high school students in San Rafael, California calling themselves the Waldos because "their chosen hang-out spot was a wall outside the school", used the term in connection with a fall 1971 plan to search for an abandoned cannabis crop that they had learned about, based on a treasure map made by the grower. The Waldos designated the Louis Pasteur statue on the grounds of San Rafael High School as their meeting place, and 4:20 p.m. as their meeting time. The Waldos referred to this plan with the phrase "4:20 Louis". Several failed attempts to find the crop eventually shortened their phrase to simply "4:20", which ultimately evolved into a codeword that the teens used to mean marijuana-smoking in general.
Mike Edison says that Steven Hager of High Times was responsible for taking the story about the Waldos to "mind-boggling, cult-like extremes" and "suppressing" all other stories about the origin of the term. Hager wrote "Stoner Smart or Stoner Stupid?" in which he called for 4:20 p.m. to be the socially accepted hour of the day to consume cannabis. He attributes the early spread of the phrase to Grateful Dead followers, who were also linked to the city of San Rafael.
April 20 has become an international counterculture holiday, where people gather to celebrate and consume cannabis. Many such events have a political nature to them, advocating the liberalization / legalization of cannabis. Vivian McPeak, a founder of Seattle's Hempfest states that 4/20 is "half celebration and half call to action". Paul Birch calls it a global movement and notes that one can't stop events like these.
As marijuana continues to be decriminalized and legalized around the world Steve DeAngelo, cannabis activist and founder of California's Harborside Health Center, notes that "even if our activist work were complete, 420 morphs from a statement of conscience to a celebration of acceptance, a celebration of victory, a celebration of our amazing connection with this plant" and that he thinks that "it will always be worthy of celebration".
As of 2017 many events take place only days after April 20 or not in relation to 4/20 and global synchronization entirely. While many of these locations are expected to host such an event annually local authorities may attempt to prohibit protests on that day or create unreasonable conditions. However relocation might be required in some cases due to issues such as environmental protection.
In North AmericaEdit
North American observances have been held at the following locations:
- Hippie Hill in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park near the Haight-Ashbury district,
- The University of Colorado's Boulder campus,
- Ottawa, Ontario, at Parliament Hill and Major's Hill Park,
- Montreal, Quebec, at Mount Royal monument,
- Edmonton, Alberta, at the Alberta Legislature Building,
- Vancouver, British Columbia, at the Vancouver Art Gallery, but as of 2016 also at Sunset Beach.
The growing size of the unofficial event at UC Santa Cruz caused the Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs to send an e-mail to parents in 2009 stating: "The growth in scale of this activity has become a concern for both the university and surrounding community."
Signs bearing the number "420" have been frequently stolen. In Colorado, the Colorado Department of Transportation replaced the Mile Marker 420 sign on I-70 east of Denver with one reading 419.99 in an attempt to stop the thievery. The Idaho Department of Transportation (ITD) replaced the Mile Marker 420 sign on U.S. Highway 95, just south of Coeur d'Alene, with Mile Marker 419.9. That marker was eventually stolen as well, leading ITD to just post the marker with spray paint on the pavement. In Goodhue County, Minnesota, officials have changed "420 St" street signs to "42x St".
In 2003, California Senate Bill 420 was introduced to regulate medical marijuana use, in deliberate reference to the status of 420 in marijuana culture. An unsuccessful 2010 bill to legalize cannabis in Guam was called Bill 420.
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Mr. Hager said the significance of April 20 dates to a ritual begun in the early 1970s in which a group of Northern California teenagers smoked cannabis every day at 4:20 p.m. Word of the ritual spread and expanded to a yearly event in various places. Soon, cannabis aficionados were using "420" as a code for smoking and using it as a sign-off on flyers for concerts where the drug would be plentiful. In recent years, the April 20 events have become so widespread that several colleges have discouraged students from participating.
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- "High Expectations: Marketers Hope for Buzz on 4/20". The Wall Street Journal. April 20, 2012.
- Grim, Ryan (April 20, 2009). "What 420 Means: The True Story Behind Stoners' Favorite Number". The Huffington Post. Retrieved January 23, 2011.
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- Alyssa Pereira (April 20, 2016). "Local originators of term 420 solve 45-year-old mystery". San Francisco Chronicle.
- Edison, Mike (2009-05-12). I Have Fun Everywhere I Go: Savage Tales of Pot, Porn, Punk Rock, Pro Wrestling, Talking Apes, Evil Bosses, Dirty Blues, American Heroes, and the Most Notorious Magazines in the World. Faber & Faber. pp. 207–. ISBN 978-0-86547-903-6. Retrieved 20 April 2013.
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- "Canada's marijuana activists unite against American-style drug laws – 420 vote mobs to be held in over 10 cities across Canada on April 20th". newswire.ca CNW Group. Retrieved 2011-04-20.
- "Hundreds of Tokers Flood Alberta Legislature in Protest to Push for Legalization of Marijuana". Retrieved 2013-04-22.
- Hall, Neal (May 2, 2009). "Thousands of marijuana smokers gather in Vancouver to celebrate "420"". The Vancouver Sun. Retrieved September 30, 2009.
- "Marijuana protest planned for the Vancouver Art Gallery despite 4/20 moving to Sunset Beach". 19 April 2016.
- Johnson, Lisa (20 April 2016). "4/20 pot rally draws tens of thousands in Vancouver". CBC News. Retrieved 20 April 2016.
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- Gayle, Damien (2016-04-21). "Police make 20 arrests at cannabis picnic in London's Hyde Park". the Guardian. Retrieved 2016-05-05.
- Johnson, Gene. "How 4/20 ... grew ... into a 'holiday'". chicagotribune.com. Retrieved 22 April 2017.
- "Denver 420 event will be a mix of marijuana politics and celebration". Retrieved 22 April 2017.
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- "State alters 420 MM sign to thwart thieves". KUSA-TV. Retrieved January 11, 2014.
- "Idaho replaces mile marker 420 with 419.9 to thwart stoners". KTVB. Retrieved August 18, 2015.
- "County finds fix for missing 420 signs". Post-Bulletin. Retrieved July 20, 2015.
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- "D.C. mayor offers pot activist Tag 420 for his efforts". Washington Post.
- Media related to 420 (cannabis culture) at Wikimedia Commons