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11 Facts about 420


By Annika Tomlin

The origin story of the unofficial holiday 420 began in 1971 and still has a significant impact on young adults all around the world. While one thing is for sure, 4/20 is all about marijuana there are some disputes about how the holiday came to be. Here are 11 facts about the unofficial holiday and its use around the world.


While 420 is not widely available to be placed on a license plate, Adam Eidinger was granted one in 2014 by Mayor Muriel Bowser after he helped successfully campaign Washington, D.C.’s Initiative 71. This initiative led to the legalization of recreational cannabis use in D.C. during the 2014 election.

10. CODE 420

Over the years, 420 has been commonly associated with marijuana and has been referenced as the legal code used for the drug. However, there is no use of 420 for a penal or police dispatch code to mean illegal marijuana use. That being said, 420 is a penal code in California, but it’s for obstructing entry on public land. It’s not used as a police radio code in any context.


The next time that you watch the 1994 Quentin Tarantino film look at the clocks in the movie. The majority of them are set at 4:20. A wristwatch is set at 9 o’clock and some are set to other times, but most are 4:20.


Several highways and roadways all around the country have stopped using 420 as a mile marker because they are frequently stolen. In 2014, the Colorado Department of Transportation replaced the mile marker 420 on Interstate 70, east of Denver with a 419.99 mile marker to deter all the would-be thieves. It soon became common practice for those signs to be stolen as well. Bonus fact: several hotels also ditch room 420 to avoid smoking in rooms.


Another theory is 420 is the number of chemicals in the plant. There are actually 483 known chemicals in cannabis that includes approximately 65 that are cannabinoids. The main psychoactive cannabinoid ingredient in marijuana is THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol).


Most teens and young adults will say 4/20 is an official holiday celebrating pot on April 20. It isn’t. In fact, outside of the United States and Canada, it is not as widely celebrated as it is here. That is mainly because countries within Europe and other parts of the world put the date first then month so for them it would be 20/4.


Ben & Jerry’s has used its platform to advocate for several political standings since its inception. The decriminalization of marijuana is no different. Last year the brand worked with ACLU to bring awareness and formally endorsed congressional legislation to deschedule cannabis and push restorative justice. On April 18, 2020, they tweeted a photo that said “Legalization without justice is HALF BAKED” referencing their widely popular Half Baked ice cream flavor.


In November 2020, Arizona legalized recreational use and sale of marijuana. To date, 37 states have medical marijuana available while 15 states and Washington, D.C., allow for recreational and medical consumption and sale of marijuana. This year is the first in which 4/20 will be legally celebrated in Arizona.


The average amount each U.S. consumer spends on cannabis products ranges between $500 to $2,500 annually. Americans spent $18.3 billion on marijuana products in 2020. In comparison, $10.7 billion worth of products were sold in 2019. One of the main contributing factors for the immense increase in sales was the COVID-19 pandemic. Similar to how people stocked up on toilet paper, Lysol and hand sanitizer, people who were/are legally able to purchase the product stocked up on it as well especially with the new online ordering and curbside pickup.


On December 28, 1990, a group of Deadheads in Oakland handed out flyers that invited people to smoke “420” on April 20 at 4:20 p.m. One of the flyers was received by Steve Bloom, a reporter for High Times magazine. The publication printed the flyer in 1991, marking the first widely published use of 420 in relation to marijuana.


The original story of how 420 came to be goes like this: In 1971, five students at San Rafael High School met at 4:20 p.m. by the campus’ statue of chemist Louis Pasteur to search for an abandoned cannabis crop based on a treasure map made by the grower referring to the plan as “4:20 Louis.” They chose that time because extracurricular activities at school ended by then. Steve Capper, Dave Reddix, Jeffery Noel, Larry Schwartz and Mark Gravich became known as the Waldos because they met at a wall outside the school. Eventually the group shortened the phrase to “4:20” using it as a code word to refer to smoking cannabis. CT


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