Everybody knows 4:20 is the time to smoke pot. And everybody knows 4/20 is the international pot-smoking day. But not many people, not even the oldest and most ardent pot smokers, knows why or how the number 420 became linked to pot smoking.
There are a few old tales which describe how this national holiday, and that special time of the day, became so iconic. Here’s everything we know about how 4/20 became more than a mid-April day.
The legend of the California penal code
The legend of the police radio code
The legend of the Dylan song
The legend of the Waldos
And Then There Are Just Some Batshit Ideas
The remaining theories around 420 are so wild we might as well not even go into detail. Some think it’s named after the day Bob Marley died, but he died on May 11. Some think it has something to do with Adolf Hitler’s birthday, but why the hell would that mean anything? (Even if it is his birthday.) Lastly, some stoned-off-their-ass person once said April 20 is the best day to plant marijuana, but that very clearly depends on where you’re planting it.
In the end, the only real way to trace it back is to those ambitious high school kids in San Rafael. They toked so we could rip. They lied to their parents so we could have an excuse once a day—and especially on April 20—to pull out all the stops and get as high as the lord above us.