What does 420 mean?
Blaze on. Photo credit: Getty Images

Why do people assign numbers to certain concepts? The numbers 666 are always used to reference the devil from the Book of Revelations. Or, you know, anything relating to heavy metal. Cranky wrestler Stone Cold Steve Austin used to follow his trash talking screeds citing his own scripture of kickass: “Austin: 3:16”. These numbers show up on a daily basis out in the wild and usually get snickers from people who are in on the joke. So, what does 420 mean and why do stoners constantly use it to reference all things weed related?   

[Photo: The Smokers Club]

What does 420 mean?

Many stoner elder statesmen will probably feed you some outlandish folklore to the question when you ask them the question what does 420 mean. But at the end of the day, the numbers first gained their glazed over meaning from a group of California school students in the early 1970’s known as “The Waldos” and their quest to find a hidden stash of cannabis.


Think of them as the stoned version of the Goonies, “The Waldos” would meet near the statue of Louis Pasteur outside of San Rafael High School where they attended at 4:20 pm to search for this green bounty. They quickly adapted the code words “4:20 Louis” to reference their plan but ended up changing it to the shorter and more commonly used “420” and the gang used it as code for a meetup time to light one up.

what does 420 mean the grateful dead

[Photo: Wikimedia Commons]

According to High Times Magazine, The Grateful Dead hired one of “The Waldos” as a roadie and were eventually hip to the term. Fans of the Dead then started using 4:20 as slang for a meetup time to blaze and it caught on as fast as a loosely rolled joint. Now stoners treat the numbers like a bat signal — or “blunt signal” — for meeting up with their like-minded friends to smoke.

So what does 420 mean and does the date 4/20 hold any significance on the calendar?

Well, not really. April 20th (or 4/20) doesn't actually coincide with anything that weed smokers actually celebrate. It’s just adding to the fun.  

What does 420 friendly mean?

Since the term has become so widely used and understood by stoners everywhere, many people have started to adopt the code “420 friendly” when testing the waters on whether or not a place or situation is cool with plumes of weed smoke.

420 friendly is generally used by people who list open rooms in their apartments on sites like craigslist so they can find “chill” roommates who wouldn’t mind a cloudy living situation. However, If a certain state has legalized Marijuana, you can also use 420 friendly in your Airbnb searches when you are taking your next trip.

So, say your parents are coming in from out of town and are looking for a place to crash and your State has opened the weed smoking floodgates. When they find an Airbnb close by and ask you the question what does 420 friendly mean, just smile and say ...

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