The truth about 420 is actually not easily revealed. It seems simple enough to get to the bottom of the reasons behind this infamous reference but it is far from. That makes the 420 story even better. It transforms it into an origin myth of sorts that every culture needs.

Which Came First: The Reference Or The Holiday

Ever wondered whether the 420 holiday preceded the lingo? You’re not alone. The holiday sprung out of the subculture as more people began using the term 420. Today, the smoke-outs and circles you see crop up are really paying homage to the history of the term.

That doesn’t answer our real questions though. Who first coined the term 420 and why is that number associated with pot?

So Many Rumors

The rumors may be wrong but they’re sure fun. Since they make up a part of the cloud of mystique that surrounds 420, they’re worth a look. This will also help you call B.S. when you hear someone perpetuating them.

Is 420 Police Code For Smoking?

This is a popular rumor that obscures the truth about 420 but it’s not true. There is no evidence to back up the claim that the police in California or anywhere else refer to pot smoking as a ‘420.’ The belief that this is true seems to have helped popularize the phrase, however. How ironic of you, stoners.

Other Wild 420 Claims

Some have heard 4:20 is teatime in Amsterdam but there’s no discernable truth to that either. They don’t care what time you roll up to the cafe as long as you’re ready to roll up inside it.

Bob Dylan songs also don’t have anything to do with the term, although it’s unlikely Bob would admit it if they did. He tends to be contrary with the press. Others have wondered if there are 420 active compounds in marijuana. The real number is more like 480, so no luck there either.

The truth about 420 leads back to some teenagers, a their club, and some funny nicknames.

The Huff Post Breaks The Story

The Huff Post published an article in 2009 that told most of the truth about 420 as a concept. According to the article, 420 comes from a code used by a group of highschool kids that called themselves The Waldos.

The Truth About 420 And The Waldos

So these Waldos, so named because their favorite spot to puff was against a wall near their school, needed a code to keep the grown ups off their case. It was the 70s and each of them had hilarious and cunning aliases as well. Waldo Mark, Waldo Dave, Waldo Steve and the others.

Just like that 70s show but all Waldos.

The Waldos tell a fascinating story about a treasure hunt for some abandoned bud. They got a hot tip about a grow site and even had a map. They just had to meet up after practice and start their cannabis quest.

The time of the meeting? You guessed it: 4:20.

The first outing proved a bust so this became a regular thing. The group would remind each other as they passed in the halls by saying ‘420.’

And thus, a legend was born. It really caught on among the group of friends and is catch enough to spread like wildfire. They never did find that sweet stash either. We must honor their sacrifice by lighting up in their honor.

How Did The Term Go World Wide?

The Grateful Dead feature in this origin story, since every great myth needs a soundtrack. The Dead shared a connection with some of The Waldos. Waldo Patrick (Reddix) smoked with Phil Lesh a time or two and figures he must have used the term in front of him.

Did Lesh bogart the term and take it on the road? He can’t remember. Isn’t that the most fitting end to the story? You can’t make this stuff up.

Share The Story In Honor Of The Holiday!

That’s the truth about 420, kiddos. It is both more convoluted and simpler than you think, much like marijuana itself. Share the story with a friend or two while you toke this year and feel free to point them our way for the easiest way to turn concentrates into e-liquid.

That’s another story worth spreading.