April 20 comes round once a year, and whether you indulge or not, the day is recognized as a national holiday of sorts for cannabis culture. In addition to killer deals and general merriment at your favorite dispensary in states with legal adult use (ahem, KYND is all in at Mynt’s Spring Jamboree!), the day is awash in myth and mystery. There are tons of illicit/thrilling/random rumors that continue to circulate about the day’s origins. Here are a handful of the best (debunked) myths about 4/20.
Crazy 4/20 Myths
There are more – have you heard the one about Holland? – but here’s a quick round-up of our debunked favorites.
4/20 is a police dispatch code for smoking cannabis
This is a bizarrely persistent myth, but nope, it’s not a police code for cannabis smoking. Blame it on the Grateful Dead. Apparently, bassist Phil Lesh though 420 was a San Raphael police code meaning “marijuana smoking in progress.” He was wrong, but the story stuck!
4/20 is the California penal code for cannabis
Section 420 of the California Penal Code is much less exciting that cannabis – it references the unlawful hindrance or obstruction of a person from entering public land. Scandalous.
Cannabis has 420 chemical compounds
Wrong again! Actually, there are over 500 identifiable compounds in cannabis – over 120 terpenes and more than 70 cannabinoids.
April 20 is Hitler’s birthday
This is, unfortunately, accurate. But it’s just a coincidence. Hitler’s birthday has no association beyond sharing a date.
April 20 is the date of the Columbine school shootings
This is also true. The Columbine shootings took place April 20, 1999, but 4/20 was an established term well before then. And it’s believed that the date was significant to the perpetrators because of Hitler – not cannabis.
April 20 is the anniversary of Bob Marley’s death
Not quite. Bob Marley was born in February 1945 and died May 11, 1981. He did love cannabis, that we know, and he likely enjoyed himself quite a bit on various 4/20s, but he has no connection to the date. Neither do Janis Joplin or Jimi Hendrix.
So What’s the Real Story?
The most credible story comes from the editor of High Times. The term was a reference to a time – not a date. In 1971, a handful of students at San Rafael High School used the code 420 to arrange cannabis-smoking gatherings at 4:20 every day. They’d meet up near a specific wall – thus their collective name, the “Waldos” – to partake.
And while the origins got lost somewhere along the way, the term became forever associated with cannabis. You can probably thank, again, Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh, for that. One of the original Waldos worked as a roadie, so the band likely helped bring the term into cannabis culture awareness. And the final push? In December 1990, Oakland Deadheads passed out flyers about smoking 420 on April 20 at 4:20 pm. One of the flyers ended up printed in High Times magazine, which continued using the term, where it became firmly entrenched in the collective conscience.
Today, the holiday means deals and discounts at your favorite dispensary, plus huge concerts and other cannabis-centric events. But now you know the myths and the facts, so keep the details handy in the event of 4/20 trivia. And don’t forget – this year, KYND will be celebrating 4/20 at Mynt in downtown Reno and up north. Check out their Spring Jamboree and make plans now!