April 20 is a high holiday of sorts for cannabis enthusiasts and potheads around the world.
Known as “Weed Day,” the origins behind 420 (pronounced four-twenty), as it is known, are hazy to say the least, but it has come to be part celebration of marijuana and marijuana culture and part call to action.
Take DCMJ, for example. The pro-pot group based in Washington is giving away free joints all day at the nation’s capitol – from “high” noon until about 5 p.m.
The handout is a way to bring attention to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ federal crackdown on legalized marijuana despite 60 percent of Americans being in favor of legalization of some kind, according to a Gallop poll from last fall.
“Giving adults access to cannabis and individuals and small business owners legal protection in all 50 states is what the American people have been asking for — just take one look at last year’s election. It is time Congress remove cannabis from its Schedule I classification — and act,” Adam Eidinger, co-founder of DCMJ said in a statement. “On 420, we’ll celebrate adults making informed choices based on facts, rather than propaganda. Our demonstration will begin to lift the special-interest smokescreen giving Congress cover and preventing responsible cannabis laws from being enacted at the federal level.”
What is so special about 420 though?
Why 420? Metro will walk you through a few of the most likely theories on how these numbers came to represent pot culture in America.
A group of high school students from San Rafael, California, who coined their name because they like to hang out near a wall (creative, we know), are said to have first used 420 in connection with their 1971 quest to locate an abandoned cannabis crop they had heard about.
As legend has it, the students would meet beside a statue of Louis Pasteur on the grounds of their school at 4:20 p.m., referring to the meets as “4:20 Louis.”
They never did find the crop, but the term took on a life of its own — possibly thanks to Grateful Dead fans who hailed from the same area.
That Bob Dylan song
This one is a bit of a stretch, but some have attributed the origins of 420 to Bob Dylan’s song “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35.”
This song holds the famous lyric, “Everybody must get stoned.”
Naturally, if you multiply 12 by 35, you get 420. Who knew stoners were so good at math?
The legends of the codes
These next two theories have been widely popularized but have been found to have no basis in the truth.
Some have claimed 420 comes from the state of California criminal code outlawing use or distribution of marijuana, but the state’s 420 code actually deals with obstructing entry to public land, so that’s not true.
Others have claimed it’s the San Francisco Police code to describe marijuana use, but it’s actually for a juvenile disturbance, CNN reported.