Photo by Joshua Coleman

Learn | 03.17.2024

What Does 420 Mean In Cannabis Culture?

Learn about the roots and impact of 420, its origins, influence, and cultural significance.

Once upon a time, 420 was like the secret handshake among cannabis lovers, but what was once a mystery has morphed into a vibrant celebration around weed. 

Have you ever wondered where this now globally recognized date comes from? The answer may surprise you, because it is simpler than it seems. 

Walk with us through the lines of the past, exploring all things 420. And how it came to be the celebration it is today.

The Origins Of 420: Why Is 420 Associated With Weed?

Photo by Lexscope

All this fuss is due to a group of friends called the Waldos. 

Let’s go back 50 years in time to San Rafael High School in California, where 5 classmates learned that the brother of one of them feared he would be caught with a marijuana crop he had planted in the Point Reyes woods. In order for the boys to help him harvest this hidden treasure, he provided the Waldos with a map and his blessing. 

In the fall of 1971, at exactly 4:20 p.m., after classes and soccer practice, the Waldos would gather at the statue of the famous chemist Louis Pasteur on campus. There, they would indulge in a smoke before going on their search for the elusive cannabis patch.

Despite their efforts, the hidden cultivation remained just that: hidden. However, Waldo’s private lexicon, initially dubbed “420 Louie” and later simplified to “420,” took on a life of its own. 

As a testament to the term’s enduring legacy, the Oxford English Dictionary officially recognized “420” in 2017, citing some papers from the distinguished group of friends as the first recorded uses of the term.

Celebrating 420 Across The Globe

Photo by Iker Urteaga

While 420 started out as the time when the creators of the term met, it has evolved into a celebration with its own date on the calendar: on April 20 every year, you can expect this celebration. 

But how do stoners commemorate this green holiday? Let us shed some light on the many ways 420 is celebrated around the world. 

In general, April 20 is a day when joints are lit, pipes are passed around, and the sweet aroma of weed wafts through the air. Now, how is this cannabis holiday celebrated?

Music Festivals

On this date, there are music festivals where cannabis is commemorated, including the fight for its legalization. 

Usually, and especially in places where cannabis is legal, thousands of people gather in fields and parks to dance to the rhythm of live music while clouds of smoke rise to the sky. 

From iconic events like the Cannabis Cup in Amsterdam to local gatherings in urban centers around the world, music festivals are a staple of 420 celebrations.

Movie Marathons

Cannabis has been a part of many iconic movies, and the stoner character can’t be missed in more than one film as the secret ingredient to a humorous hit. 

From Cheech and Chong marathons to screenings of cult films like “The Big Lebowski” and “Pineapple Express,” having a marathon of weed-related movies will be a great plan for April 20.

Discounts, Discounts And More Discounts

If you’re lucky enough to live in a place where weed is legal, head to your favorite dispensary; chances are they’ll have incredible discounts as a way to celebrate 420. 

Whether you want to stock up on your favorite strains or explore new edibles and concentrates, 420 is the perfect time to get some green for less green.

Themed Beers

Cheers to 420 themed beers! Craft breweries and beer enthusiasts are getting in on the action by brewing special edition beers with cannabis-inspired flavors. From IPAs to hemp-infused beers, these limited edition beers add an extra dose of fun to the holidays.

Private Parties

You don’t need a big event to celebrate 420; invite your closest friends who share your love for the plant, and you’re good to go! You can plan activities like a weed tasting, a vaping corner, or even games to learn about cannabinoids, your imagination is your limit.

The Impact Of 4/20 On Cannabis Legalization And Culture

April 20th is not only a date of celebration, it is also a symbol of movement and revolution to change the legality of cannabis.

From its humble beginnings as a clandestine gathering of a group of high school friends, 420 has become a cultural touchstone that has influenced the trajectory of cannabis legalization in the United States. 

The annual celebration has served as a rallying cry for reform advocates, amplifying their voices and catalyzing change. 

A glance around the country reveals a patchwork of cannabis laws:

States with Recreational Cannabis Legalization 

  1. California 
  2. Alaska 
  3. Nevada 
  4. Oregon 
  5. Washington 
  6. Maine 
  7. Colorado 
  8. Montana 
  9. Vermont 
  10. Rhode Island 
  11. New Mexico 
  12. Michigan 
  13. Arizona 
  14. New Jersey 
  15. Delaware 
  16. Connecticut 
  17. Massachusetts 
  18. Illinois 
  19. Maryland 
  20. Minnesota 
  21. New York 
  22. Ohio 
  23. Missouri 
  24. Virginia 
  25. District of Columbia 
  26. Washington, D.C. 
  27. Guam 
  28. Rhode Island 

States with Medical Cannabis Legalization 

  1. California 
  2. Alaska
  3. Nevada 
  4. Oregon 
  5. Washington 
  6. Maine 
  7. Colorado 
  8. Hawaii 
  9. Montana 
  10. Vermont 
  11. Rhode Island 
  12. New Mexico 
  13. Michigan 
  14. Arizona 
  15. New Jersey 
  16. Delaware 
  17. Connecticut 
  18. Massachusetts 
  19. Illinois 
  20. Maryland 
  21. New Hampshire 
  22. Minnesota 
  23. New York 
  24. Ohio 
  25. Pennsylvania 
  26. Iowa 
  27. West Virginia 
  28. Missouri 
  29. Oklahoma 
  30. Utah 
  31. Mississippi 
  32. South Dakota 
  33. Virginia 
  34. Kentucky 
  35. District of Columbia 

How Is 420 Celebrated?

When the clock strikes 4:20 on April 20, cannabis lovers around the world gather to celebrate in many ways, each as unique as the last. 

Whether it’s San Francisco’s Hippie Hill, where a sea of colorful blankets stretches across the lush green expanse of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, or Seattle’s Movie Nights, where they offer a variety of themed events to suit all tastes, you have different events to enjoy cannabis.

You can even attend a pottery party in Boston, where guided by experienced instructors, participants give free play to their creativity while sharing their love for cannabis. 

Beyond organized events, 420 celebrations take a variety of creative forms, showcasing the inclusivity and joy that define cannabis culture. 

From rooftop garden parties to cooking classes, people come together to share knowledge, experiences, and laughter. Whether it’s a CBD yoga session or a cannabis-inspired art workshop, these gatherings foster connection and understanding of weed. 

At the end of the day, 420 is more than just a date on the calendar, it’s a celebration of community, and cannabis in general. 

Happy 420!

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