April 20, 2016

The Evolution Of 420 – What Does 420 Mean To You?

April 20, 2016
the waldos 420
the waldos 420
(The creators of ‘420’ – The Waldos via 420waldos.com)

Happy 420! I hope that your April 20th is full of good times with people that you like. Or if you don’t like anyone, then hopefully you at least have some really good cannabis to consume. I plan on heading up to Portland after work to hang out with some friends, and I’m very excited. I pulled out some cannabis smoking devices that I don’t use that often to take to the 420 fiesta I’m going to, in addition to about two cannabutter pounds worth of edibles of various kinds.

Looking back on my first April 20th as a cannabis consumer, back in the mid-90’s, the meaning of 420 for me has evolved greatly. Obviously 420 has stood for cannabis for a long time, but the spirit behind it has changed over the years, at least for me. The use of the term ‘420’ is attributed to a group of friends in California who first started using the term to refer to cannabis in the early 1970’s. They were called ‘The Waldos’ and they actually have a website up now that not only provides details of 420 history, but there’s even proof! Below is the explanation of how 420 came to be, via their website:

In the fall of ’71 Waldo Steve was given a treasure map to a patch of weed on the Point Reyes Peninsula. The map was given to him by a friend whose brother was in the U.S. Coast Guard and was growing cannabis. The coastguardsman was paranoid he would get busted so he granted permission to harvest. The Waldos™ all agreed to meet at 4:20 p.m. at the statue of chemist Louis Pasteur on the campus of San Rafael High. They met, got high, and drove out to search for the patch.

In the ensuing school days the Waldos would use the term ‘420 Louie™’ to remind each other of their after school quest. They eventually dropped the ‘Louie’ part and just said ‘420’ to refer to cannabis. Originally ‘420’ was nothing more than the Waldos’ secret slang-their own private joke-, however, it was picked up by others and spread from generation to generation, city to city, country to country, across decades, and throughout all media around the globe.

I’m not sure when someone realized that April 20th is 4/20, and decided that it needed to be the official cannabis holiday, but it’s been that way since well before I started consuming cannabis. The term 420 and the date of April 20th became a counter culture phenomenon. People used it as a code word for cannabis, and once the word got out about what it meant, the term was then used to identify with cannabis culture.

After awhile, April 20th evolved to become a national day of protest against cannabis prohibition. That’s how I got involved as an activist – I went to a rally/protest on April 20th, 1999, and it changed my life. That’s not to say that I wasn’t celebrating on that day, because I very much was, but from that time forward 420 meant more than just consuming cannabis and relating to cannabis culture. It also represented the struggle for cannabis equality.

Now April 20th has become much more about celebration than protest where I live in Oregon, and I’d imagine in other states that have legalized recreational marijuana. In states that still have outdated cannabis laws, protests and demonstrations continue. 420 has evolved a lot over the years, from a way to discretely refer to cannabis, to a full on movement. 420 isn’t just a number, or a day of the year, it’s a way of life for many people. I know that it is for me. Wherever I see 420, I know that there is someone out there that shares a similar love for all things cannabis.

What does 420 mean to you? Is it just a time on the clock that you try to sync up a smoke session with each day? Is it the one day of the year that you let loose and consume cannabis freely? Does 420 represent much more than that for you, as it does for me? Whatever you think of when you think of the term 420, I hope that it makes you smile. Happy 420 2016 from me and The Weed Blog. May the cannabinoids be ever in your favor!


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