420 (cannabis culture)
|Observed by||Cannabis counterculture, legal reformers, entheogenic spiritualists|
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. (or 16:20 in 24-hour notation) and smoking cannabis in celebration on the date April 20 (which is 4/20 in U.S. form).
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 suggests 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".
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.
- In New York City there are a number of gathering and demonstrations on April 20. The largest and most notable are those which are centered around Washington Square Park.
- Mile High 420 Festival in Denver's Civic Center Park 
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."
Using 25 years of U.S. national data, one study found a 12% increase in the risk of fatal motor vehicle crash between 4:20 p.m. and midnight on April 20 compared to identical time intervals on control days. Among the subgroup of drivers less than 21 years of age, risks were 38% higher on April 20 than on control days.
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. Though the sign post should appear just east of Flagler, Colorado, one travelling east from exit 419 now only sees mile post 419, and then 2 miles farther sees mile post 421 (as noted after July 2017). 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. 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.
Dial-code of the Czech RepublicEdit
As the country dial-code of the Czech Republic is 420 and the rate of cannabis use there is one of the highest in the world, some foreign visitors think that cannabis is legal in this Central European country. However, those smoking cannabis outdoors will be fined and possessing more than 10 grams of marijuana is considered a crime. In 2016, Snoop Dogg displayed his knowledge of marijuana on the game show $100,000 Pyramid. Snoop replied without delay that the country code for the Czech Republic is 420. He would later use the number as one of the dollar amounts in the "Face the Devil" bonus round of his 2017 reboot of the classic American TV game show The Joker's Wild, which has itself been renewed for a second season as of January 2018.
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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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- Media related to 420 (cannabis culture) at Wikimedia Commons