History of how 420 became the number for cannabis

Cannabis 420: the story

Published on: 09/09/2022

What the significance of this number is and why it is linked to marijuana

For its lovers, cannabis is a matter of worship. After all, if even in a country where its cultivation is prohibited by law, so many people buy cannabis seeds online for collecting purposes, it means that interest in it is quite high. Another activity that marijuana enthusiasts enjoy doing is discovering anecdotes about this plant.

Among them is a very interesting one that dates back to the 1970s. In the following lines, you will discover how the myth of the number 420 came about and why this number is universally recognised as ‘the number of cannabis.

The Marijuana Code

Number 420: why is it the cannabis number?

The number 420 is linked to the world of cannabis thanks to a group of young Californian students who dabbled in weed in the early 1970s. This group of friends with a strong passion for cannabis also had a penchant for using coded language. Not surprisingly, each of its members had a nickname consisting of their first name and the word Waldo. Thus Mark Gravitch, Steve Capper and Dave Reddix became Waldo Mark, Waldo Capper and Waldo Reddix.

But why did these students used to call themselves that? Well, because they were in the habit of meeting and spending time together near a wall at their high school in San Martin County. From ‘wall’ then, someone thought of coining the term Waldos to identify the little group. But the use of codes was not limited to names: in fact, the Waldos coined a code for marijuana as well.

In 1971, the young students learned of an abandoned marijuana field near the Coast Guard headquarters in Point Reyes. The Waldos, therefore, decided to search for this phantom plot of land but, after a week of fruitless searching, they gave up on their intention to find it. But what does 420 have to do with it? Simple: the members of this group met every day at 4:20 a.m. to smoke and then go in search of the mysteriously abandoned hemp field.

As a result of their vain search, they decided to continue using this code to hide their passion for cannabis from others, particularly their parents and teachers.

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420 and cannabis: how the legend of this issue originated and spread

The fact that a group of young boys coined a numerical code to communicate is not a legendary story: around the world, there are probably millions of similar stories. What is surprising is that this story has gone around the world and that the number 420 has become the de facto number of cannabis. But how could this have happened?

As is often the case, chance got in the way. One of the members of the Waldos had an older brother who was close friends with Phil Lesh, bassist of the Grateful Dead. When he heard about the story of the number 420, the musician started to use the code with the other members of the world-famous rock band and spread it around the world during various tours. It was in this way that 420 became famous all over the world and assumed the status of the official cannabis number.

After a while, therefore, 420 stopped being a secret code and became a real trademark among marijuana enthusiasts. However, before the truth about the origins of the link between this number and cannabis was discovered, there were many false rumours about it. Let’s find out which were the most widespread.

The cannabis number

False myths about the number 420

When cannabis enthusiasts became aware of the number 420, they indulged in a variety of conjectures as to why it had become the plant’s official number. One of the most famous was that the number was chosen because of the number of substances in cannabis. In reality, the chemical components contained in the plant are fewer. Another rumour that ran rampant was that 420 was the code by which the authorities identified marijuana-related offences.

Some even went so far as to claim that this code was a reference to Adolf Hitler’s date of birth. The Nazi dictator was born on 20 April (in America it is customary to indicate a person’s date of birth by placing the month before the day, so in this case, it would be 4.20). This – disturbing – thesis was also completely unfounded.

Probably one of the false myths that cannabis enthusiasts gave most credence to was the one linked to the song ‘Rainy Day Woman #12 & 35’ by Bob Dylan. At the end of each chorus of this song, the American singer-songwriter sang that ‘everybody should get stoned’; the fact that this verse was present in the lyrics and that multiplying the two numbers in the title resulted in 420 made many people believe this thesis.

However, now that the true history of the number 420 is known, these rumours only make its origins more interesting.

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In conclusion

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