420, 4:20 or 4/20 (pronounced four-twenty) refers to consumption of cannabis and, by extension, a way to identify oneself with cannabis subculture. The notable day for these is April 20. (Not to be confused with J-Day, an international protest held on the first Saturday of May.)
Origins of term
The term was allegedly coined by a group of teenagers in San Rafael, California in 1971. Calling themselves the Waldos, because "their chosen hang-out spot was a wall outside the school," the group first used the term in connection to a fall 1971 plan to search for an abandoned cannabis crop that they had learned about. The Waldos designated the Louis Pasteur statue on the grounds ofSan Rafael High School as their meeting place, and 4:20 p.m. as their meeting time. The Waldos referred to this plan with the phrase "4:20 Louis". Multiple failed attempts to find the crop eventually shortened their phrase to simply "4:20", which ultimately evolved into a codeword the teens used to mean pot-smoking in general.
High Times Creative Director Steven Hager was the first person to track down the Waldos and publish their account of the origins of the term. Hager wrote "Are You Stoner Smart or Stoner Stupid?" (October 1998) in which he called for 4:20 p.m. to be the socially accepted hour of the day to consume cannabis. "I believe 420 is a ritualization of cannabis use that holds deep meaning for our subculture," wrote Hager. "It also points us in a direction for the responsible use of cannabis."
April 20 observances
April 20 (4/20 in U.S. date notation) has evolved into a counterculture holiday, where people gather to celebrate and consume cannabis. Some events have a political nature to them, advocating for the decriminalization of non-medical cannabis in the United States.
Every year thousands of people flock from all over California to San Francisco's Hippie Hill, in Golden Gate Park near the famous Haight-Ashbury district.
Named the #2 most pot smoking city in the United States,  thousands observe 4/20 in Tallahassee. Some major places are the Florida State University andFlorida A & M University campuses, numerous Tallahassee greenways, and industrial district (All Saints/Railroad Square).
University of California, Santa Cruz
A celebration on April 20 takes place every year in the Porter College meadow at the University of California, Santa Cruz. The event has grown during recent years after the city of Santa Cruz passed Measure K in 2006, making marijuana a low-priority crime. Participants in the event are often confronted by religious anti-drug activists, yet these protesters are largely ignored.
University of Colorado, Boulder
A large celebration is held every year on the University of Colorado's Boulder campus, with attendance reaching more than 11,000 in 2008. It has been estimated that in 2009 the crowd surpassed the 10,000 attendee mark that was set in 2008. This would make CU Boulder's celebration of the hopeful legalization of marijuana one of the largest such celebrations in the United States. University police have tried various methods to prevent the gathering, including photographing students participating in the event, but the crowd has grown every year. The university and police have taken a more hands-off approach since 2006, emphasizing event safety over possession citations. Recent growth of the medical marijuana industry in Colorado is expected to add momentum to future events.
On April 15, 2009, the Office of the Chancellor sent an e-mail to all CU students regarding the 2009 celebration of 4/20 stating that the event would debase "the reputation of your university and degree." The CU student newspaper disagreed with the Chancellor's analysis.
No possession tickets were issued at the 2009 event.
Annually, on April 20, thousands of activists gather on Parliament Hill and Major's Hill to look toward the peace tower as they join each other in smoking marijuana when the clock strikes 4:20. Police keep an eye on protesters to make sure the peace is kept within correlation to law.
Every year on April 20, thousands of people gather at the Mont-Royal monument to celebrate 4/20. Police don't make arrests, although they do make their presence known.
Each year on 4/20 thousands gather at Victoria Park downtown to celebrate. Over 2,000 people joined the festivities in 2010 that included live music. London police made a presence but announced they were not going to lay any marijuana related charges. London is also the hometown of Canadian cannabis policy reform advocate Marc Emery.
Every year on the first Saturday in May (in observance of 4/20), a march takes through the city streets in advocacy of legalizing marijuana. The march ends up at Queen's Park Circle just north of the Ontario Provincial Parliament to celebrate 4/20 where there are both vendors and entertainers. Though the event is police-patrolled, no tickets were issued in 2010 while over 30,000 people participated in the revelry.
Vancouver, British Columbia
On April 20, 2009, an estimated nearly 10,000 people gathered around the Vancouver Art Gallery to celebrate "420". The police did not attempt to make arrests. This event has taken place in Vancouver annually for many years, and the police are generally tolerant of all marijuana use on April 20, and most other days.
New Zealand observance
In Dunedin, New Zealand, members of Otago NORML and some students at University of Otago meet every Wednesday and Friday at 4:20 p.m. under a Walnut tree on the University's Union Lawn to smoke cannabis in defiance of New Zealand's cannabis law. There was considerable media and police interest in the '420' group in 2008, resulting in the arrest of a student and the issuance of trespass notices to members of the public at one of the 4:20 pm meetings. The group leader was arrested for cannabis possession at a university Market Day unrelated to the 4:20 meetings, but was later discharged without conviction on all charges. The group celebrated their 5th anniversary on 11 September 2009.
- Legality of cannabis by country
- Spiritual use of cannabis
- Cannabis legalization in Canada
- Cannabis in the United Kingdom
- Cannabis in the United States
- Drug subculture
- Hash Bash (Early April, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor)
- 420 (Family Guy)
- ^ a b King, Matt (April 24, 2007). "Thousands at UCSC burn one to mark cannabis holiday". Santa Cruz Sentinel. MediaNews Group. Archived from the original on April 26, 2007.
- ^ "420". Snopes.com.
- ^ McKinley, Jesse (April 19, 2009). "Marijuana Advocates Point to Signs of Change". The New York Times (The New York Times Company). Retrieved January 23, 2011. "Mr. Hager said the significance of April 20 dates to a ritual begun in the early 1970s in which a group of Northern California teenagers smoked cannabis every day at 4:20 p.m. Word of the ritual spread and expanded to a yearly event in various places. Soon, cannabis aficionados were using "420" as a code for smoking and using it as a sign-off on flyers for concerts where the drug would be plentiful. In recent years, the April 20 events have become so widespread that several colleges have urged students to just say no. At the University of Colorado, Boulder, where thousands of students regularly use the day to light up in the quad, administrators sent an e-mail message this month pleading with students not to "participate in unlawful activity that debases the reputation of your university and degree.""
- ^ a b Grim, Ryan (April 20, 2009). "What 420 Means: The True Story Behind Stoners' Favorite Number". The Huffington Post. Retrieved January 23, 2011.
- ^ a b Grim, Ryan (April 20, 2010). "420 Meaning: The True Story Of How April 20 Became 'Weed Day'". The Huffington Post. Retrieved January 23, 2011.
- ^ http://sfcitizen.com/blog/2010/04/20/a-huge-turn-out-for-420-day-on-hippie-hill-in-san-franciscos-golden-gate-park/
- ^ http://www.urbantallahassee.com/v4/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=810:tallahassee-named-2-pot-smoking-city-in-the-us&catid=47:quality-of-life-spotlight&Itemid=181
- ^ McKinley, Jesse (April 19, 2009). "Marijuana Advocates Point to Signs of Change". The New York Times (The New York Times Company). Retrieved April 20, 2009. "Mr. Hager said the significance of April 20 dates to a ritual begun in the early 1970s in which a group of Northern California teenagers smoked cannabis every day at 4:20 p.m. Word of the ritual spread and expanded to a yearly event in various places. Soon, cannabis aficionados were using "420" as a code for smoking and using it as a sign-off on flyers for concerts where the drug would be plentiful. In recent years, the April 20 events have become so widespread that several colleges have urged students to just say no. At the University of Colorado, Boulder, where thousands of students regularly use the day to light up in the quad, administrators sent an e-mail message this month pleading with students not to "participate in unlawful activity that debases the reputation of your university and degree.""
- ^ a b CU's 4/20 pot smoke-out draws crowd of 10,000 : CU News.
- ^ Marijuana: University of Colorado Posts Pics of Students at Pot Rally, Offers Reward for Naming Them.
- ^ Medical marijuana expected to give momentum to CU-Boulder 4/20 event - Boulder Daily Camera
- ^ No possession tickets issued during CU's 4/20 smokeout.
- ^ Pot activists to light up on Hill - Canada - Canoe.ca
- ^ Ottawa's Parliament Hill just one site for planned 4/20 protest
- ^ Hall, Neal (May 2, 2009). "Thousands of marijuana smokers gather in Vancouver to celebrate "420"". The Vancouver Sun. Retrieved September 30, 2009.
- ^ Hopkins, Steve (January 10, 2010). "Pot clubs go nationwide". Sunday News. Retrieved January 13, 2010.
- ^ Porteous, Debbie (June 12, 2008). "Police swoop on cannabis protest". Otago Daily Times. Retrieved March 31, 2009.
- ^ "420 Protest". Channel 9 News Dunedin. February 22, 2008. Retrieved October 7, 2008.
- ^ Porteous, Debbie (July 11, 2008). "Campus arrests follow marijuana complaints (+ video)". Otago Daily Times. Retrieved April 22, 2009.
- ^ Rudd, Allison (September 26, 2008). "Moore's appeal rejected". Otago Daily Times. Retrieved April 22, 2009.
- ^ Rudd, Allison (July 22, 2008). "Lack of quorum foils cannabis vote". Otago Daily Times. Retrieved April 22, 2009.
- ^ Rudd, Allison (September 20, 2008). "OUSA general meeting promises controversy". Otago Daily Times. Retrieved April 22, 2009.
- ^ "Norml leader guilty". Otago Daily Times. February 10, 2009. Retrieved August 23, 2009.
- ^ "Ex-Norml leader discharged". The Otago Daily Times. 4 December 2009.
- ^ Gibb, John (September 12, 2009). "Fifth anniversary of 4:20 protests". Otago Daily Times. Retrieved December 9, 2009.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: 420 (cannabis culture)|
- What 420 Means: The True Story Behind Stoners' Favorite Number by Ryan Grim, The Huffington Post, April 20, 2009
- Mom and Dad now know about '4/20' by Gevevieve Bookwalter, Santa Cruz Sentinel, April 7, 2009
- Marijuana's New High Life by The Los Angeles Times
- Roll up for the 420 magical mystery origins by Evan Mintz, Rice Thresher, April 14, 2006.