420 meaning: cracking the code word of cannabis culture

Grean leafy marajuana plants in pots

The meaning of 420 has evolved from its origins over the years to become an all-purpose code word for the cannabis culture. Wikimedia commons photo.

Dude, I’ll bet you money now that you don’t know the meaning of “420” until you read this article. These days April 20 (4-20) is National Pot Smoker’s Day. But the 420 meaning has been altered  over the years from its origins to become an all-purpose expression of cannabis culture. Assumptions of the true meaning of 420 range from a police code to the number of active chemicals in marajuana to when tea time is for dope smokers in Holland.

420 meaning: Not exactly what you think

The misinterpreted meaning of 420 can depend in which generation you inhabit. Parents who led sheltered lives growing up may think the meaning of 420 originated as a California police dispatch code for stoners smoking pot. Their kids leading not-so-sheltered lives may think the meaning of 420 is a secret code for sneaking a toke, or spending their extra cash on a bag of weed. The truth to these rumors? In the California Penal Code, for example, 420 is a misdemeanor obstructing entry of public lands. The California Family Code 420 distinguishes, of all things, a wedding ceremony. The number of active chemicals in marajuane is reported to be around 315, give or take a few. As for tea time in Holland, nobody knows for sure.

420 meaning: humble beginnings

The true meaning of 420 may have been widely revealed for the first time in an April 20 (4-20) article in the Huffington Post by Ryan Grim. Grim said he got the true story from Steve Bloom, publisher of celebstoner.com. The legend of 420 grew from humble beginnings. Way back in 1971,a group of jocks at San Rafael High School in California used to gather after practice to get stoned and look for a mythical marajuana patch near the Point Reyes Peninsula Coast Guard station. They at about 4:20 in the afternoon for several weeks. They never found the pot farm, but became the first people to use the term “420” for getting together to smoke some weed.

420 meaning: the legend grows

In Grim’s Huffington Post article, he reports that the father of one of the boys earned his pay day taking care of real estate for the Grateful Dead. Another boy’s older brother was good friends with Dead bassist Phil Lesh.The boys would hang out at the bands parties and rehersals. The Grateful Dead picked up on the phrase and eventually spread 420 around the world.

420 meaning becomes national holiday

The meaning of 420 today, or what cannabis culture means in America, is best illustrated by the large gathering that will take place on Tuesday at the University of Colorado in Boulder. The estimated crowd at the event in 20o9 exceeded 10,000 people–one of the largest celebrations in the U.S. of the hope to legalize marijuana in the U.S. Forty years after its true origin, the 420 meaning often makes the transition from cannabis culture to popular culture. In 2003, when the California legislature codified the medical marijuana law voters had approved, the bill was named SB420.

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