It’s a well-known date for marijuana users – April 20 more commonly known as “four-twenty” in North America is dedicated to the annual celebration of cannabis consumption .
Since October 17, 2018, cannabis has become legal across Canada and smokers will be able to gather and freely celebrate their first legal 4/20 in just a few days! More than a date, this number has become a symbol for the entire cannabis community and a counter-culture. However, the origins of 4/20 belong to a legend….
For thousands of people around the world, April 20 is an opportunity to get together to celebrate and enjoy the benefits of marijuana. In addition to referring to the date, 420 also represents an hour: 4:20 p.m., the ideal time of day to smoke a joint. But according to whom? It’s here that stories multiply but that the legends ultimately converge.
Teenagers at San Rafael School
One of the most common theories is that of the “Waldos”, a group of high school students in the 1970s, from San Rafael, California. They got in the habit of meeting at that exact time to smoke together. Their group greeting was “420 Louis! ” and this expression was then eventually used by fans of the psychedelic rock group Grateful Dead, also from San Francisco and a neighbourhood more specifically by the name of…
The birthplace of the 1960s hippie counterculture that succeeded the beatniks, the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco has seen many rockstars pass through its streets, record stores and anarchist bookstores. Icons such as Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix lived there. It was also the neighbourhood where the members of the group the Grateful Dead, whose fans had used the expression “420” lived. This is where the myth of the 420 digits have been inscribed within the very walls of the legendary Haight-Ash’ district.
The clock on the Haight-Ashbury corner
Legends are boundless and origins of 420 goes even further. At the corner of Haight Street and Ashbury Street, which is considered the heart of the neighbourhood, there is a clock, still in place today. This clock wasn’t an ordinary one, as its hands stopped precisely at 4:20 p.m. The story does not end there. Although the clock has been repaired several times, it continues to falter and it is said, still stuck on the same numbers 4:20.
The legend manifests in popular literature as well. In a 1936 narrative, H. P. Lovecraft describes the effects of a “mirage” plant that is very similar to marijuana and whose effects would occur every day at 4:20 p.m.
The origins of 4/20 will undoubtedly remain legends, but the tradition of time and date will not fail to be perpetuated by today’s marijuana consumers!