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4204:20, or 4/20 (pronounced four-twenty) is a code-term in cannabis culture that refers to the consumption of cannabis, especially smoking cannabis around the time 4:20 p.m. (or 16:20 in 24-hour notation) and smoking cannabis in celebration on the date April 20 (which is 4/20 in U.S. form).[3]




In 1971, Steve Capper, Dave Reddix, Jeffrey Noel, Larry Schwartz, and Mark Gravich, five high school students[4] in San Rafael, California,[5][6] calling themselves the Waldos[7][8] because "their chosen hang-out spot was a wall outside the school",[9] used the term in connection with a 1971 plan to search for an abandoned cannabis crop that they had learned about,[7][10] based on a treasure map made by the grower.[11] The Waldos designated the Louis Pasteurstatue on the grounds of San Rafael High School as their meeting place, and 4:20 p.m. as their meeting time.[9] The Waldos referred to this plan with the phrase "4:20 Louis". After several failed attempts to find the crop, the group eventually shortened their phrase to simply "4:20", which ultimately evolved into a codeword that the teens used to mean marijuana-smoking in general.[10]

Mike Edison says that Steven Hager of High Times was responsible for taking the story about the Waldos to "mind-boggling, cult-like extremes" and "suppressing" all other stories about the origin of the term.[12] Hager wrote "Stoner Smart or Stoner Stupid?", in which he called for 4:20 p.m. to be the socially accepted hour of the day to consume cannabis. Hager attributes the early spread of the phrase to Grateful Dead followers, who were also linked to the city of San Rafael.[13]

International day for cannabis-related protests and events

Vancouver, April 20, 2012

April 20 has become an international counterculture holiday, where people gather to celebrate and consume cannabis.[3][14][15] Many such events have a political nature to them, advocating the liberalization / legalization of cannabis. Vivian McPeak, a founder of Seattle's Hempfest states that 4/20 is "half celebration and half call to action".[16] Paul Birch calls it a global movement and suggests that one can't stop events like these.[17]

On that day many marijuana users protest in civil disobedience by gathering in public to light up at 4:20 p.m.[18]

As marijuana continues to be decriminalized and legalized around the world, Steve DeAngelo, cannabis activist and founder of California's Harborside Health Center, notes that "even if our activist work were complete, 420 morphs from a statement of conscience to a celebration of acceptance, a celebration of victory, a celebration of our amazing connection with this plant" and that he thinks that "it will always be worthy of celebration".[19][20]

In North America

Thousands illegally consume cannabis in Golden Gate Park to celebrate 420 and end prohibition, April 20, 2013

North American observances have been held at the following locations:

The growing size of the unofficial event at UC Santa Cruz caused the Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs to send an e-mail to parents in 2009 stating: "The growth in scale of this activity has become a concern for both the university and surrounding community."[34]


Events have also occurred in London, United Kingdom, in Hyde Park;[35] University of Colorado Boulder;[36][37] and Dunedin, New Zealand, at the University of Otago.[38][39][40][41][42][43]

Other impacts

Traffic safety

Using 25 years of U.S. national data, one study found a 12% increase in the risk of fatal motor vehicle crash between 4:20 p.m. and midnight on April 20 compared to identical time intervals on control days. Among the subgroup of drivers less than 21 years of age, risks were 38% higher on April 20 than on control days.[44]

Stolen signs

Signs bearing the number 420 have been frequently stolen. In Colorado, the Colorado Department of Transportation replaced the Mile Marker 420 sign on I-70 east of Denver with one reading 419.99 in an attempt to stop the thievery.[45] Though the sign post should appear just east of Flagler, Colorado, one travelling east from exit 419 now only sees mile post 419, and then 2 miles farther sees mile post 421 (as noted after July 2017). The Idaho Department of Transportation (ITD) replaced the Mile Marker 420 sign on U.S. Highway 95, just south of Coeur d'Alene, with Mile Marker 419.9.[46] In Goodhue County, Minnesota, officials have changed "420 St" street signs to "42x St".[47]


In 2003, California Senate Bill 420 was introduced to regulate medical marijuana use, in deliberate reference to the status of 420 in marijuana culture. An unsuccessful 2010 bill to legalize cannabis in Guam was called Bill 420.[48]

Dial-code of the Czech Republic

As the country dial-code of the Czech Republic is 420 and the rate of cannabis use there is one of the highest in the world[49][50], some foreign visitors think that cannabis is legal in this Central Europeancountry. However, those smoking cannabis outdoors will be fined and possessing more than 10 grams of marijuana is considered a crime.[51] In 2016, Snoop Dogg displayed his knowledge of marijuana on the game show $100,000 Pyramid. Snoop replied without delay that the country code for the Czech Republic is 420.[52] He would later use the number as one of the dollar amounts in the "Face the Devil" bonus round of his 2017 reboot of the classic American TV game show The Joker's Wild, which has itself been renewed for a second season as of January 2018.


Following the success of Washington D.C.'s Initiative 71 to legalize cannabis in 2014, Mayor Muriel Bowser granted license plate number 420 to the campaign's leader, Adam Eidinger.[53]

See also


  1. Jump up^ "Daily Independent Journal from San Rafael, California". November 20, 1954. Retrieved April 22, 2017.
  2. Jump up^ Chronicle, San Francisco (1962). The San Francisco Chronicle Reader. McGraw-Hill. Retrieved April 22, 2017.
  3. Jump up to:a b King, Matt (April 24, 2007). "Thousands at UCSC burn one to mark cannabis holiday"Santa Cruz Sentinel. Archived from the original on April 26, 2007.
  4. Jump up^ Olivia B. Waxman (April 19, 2017). "What the Guys Who Coined '420' Think About Their Place in Marijuana History"Time. Retrieved April 20, 2017.
  5. Jump up^ "Stoner Chic Traces Origin To San Rafael – Snickering high schoolers brought `420' into lexicon"San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved April 4, 2012.
  6. Jump up to:a b McKinley, Jesse (April 19, 2009). "Marijuana Advocates Point to Signs of Change"The New York TimesArchived from the original on December 18, 2010. Retrieved January 23, 2011Mr. 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 discouraged students from participating.
  7. Jump up to:a b High Times (March 21, 2012). The Official High Times Cannabis Cookbook: More Than 50 Irresistible Recipes That Will Get You High. Chronicle Books. pp. 97–. ISBN 978-1-4521-0133-0. Retrieved April 19, 2012.
  8. Jump up^ "High Expectations: Marketers Hope for Buzz on 4/20"The Wall Street Journal. April 20, 2012.
  9. Jump up to:a b Grim, Ryan (April 20, 2009). "What 420 Means: The True Story Behind Stoners' Favorite Number"The Huffington Post. RetrievedJanuary 23, 2011.
  10. Jump up to: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.
  11. Jump up^ Alyssa Pereira (April 20, 2016). "Local originators of term 420 solve 45-year-old mystery". San Francisco Chronicle.
  12. Jump up^ Edison, Mike (May 12, 2009). I Have Fun Everywhere I Go: Savage Tales of Pot, Porn, Punk Rock, Pro Wrestling, Talking Apes, Evil Bosses, Dirty Blues, American Heroes, and the Most Notorious Magazines in the World. Faber & Faber. pp. 207–.ISBN 978-0-86547-903-6. Retrieved April 20, 2013.
  13. Jump up^ "Stoner Smart, or Stoner Stupid?"High Times. 2008. Archived from the original on May 14, 2012. Retrieved April 20, 2012.
  14. Jump up^ Halnon, Karen Bettez (April 11, 2005). "The power of 420". Archived from the original on May 13, 2013.
  15. Jump up^ "420 event lists".
  16. Jump up^ "How marijuana's high holiday came to be". New York Post. April 20, 2017. Retrieved April 22, 2017.
  17. Jump up^ Gayle, Damien (April 19, 2015). "Thousands of cannabis users roll up in Hyde Park for annual 4/20 event". The Guardian. RetrievedApril 22, 2017.
  18. Jump up^ "Marijuana's big day is here: '420' celebrations ready to roll". USA TODAY. Retrieved April 22, 2017.
  19. Jump up^ "Does 4/20 Still Matter?". Rolling Stone. Retrieved April 22,2017.
  20. Jump up^ "Annual 420 pot rally will be more celebration than protest: Organizers". Toronto Sun. Retrieved April 22, 2017.
  21. Jump up^ "A Huge Turn Out for 420 Day on Hippie Hill in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park " San Francisco Citizen". April 20, 2010. Archived from the original on April 30, 2011. RetrievedApril 20, 2011.
  22. Jump up^ CU's 4/20 pot smoke-out draws crowd of 10,000 : CU News.
  23. Jump up^ "Medical marijuana expected to give momentum to CU-Boulder 4/20 event – Boulder Daily Camera". from the original on April 30, 2011. Retrieved April 20,2011.
  24. Jump up^ "Pot activists to light up on Hill". Archived fromthe original on July 12, 2012. Retrieved April 20, 2011.
  25. Jump up^ "Ottawa's Parliament Hill just one site for planned 4/20 protest". Archived from the original on May 11, 2011. Retrieved April 20, 2011.
  26. Jump up^ "420 Day- Cannabis Festival". Samesun Nation Travel Blog. Retrieved April 20, 2011.
  27. Jump up^ "Canada's marijuana activists unite against American-style drug laws – 420 vote mobs to be held in over 10 cities across Canada on April 20th". CNW Group. Archived from the originalon September 7, 2012. Retrieved April 20, 2011.
  28. Jump up^ "Hundreds of Tokers Flood Alberta Legislature in Protest to Push for Legalization of Marijuana". Retrieved April 22, 2013.
  29. Jump up^ Hall, Neal (May 2, 2009). "Thousands of marijuana smokers gather in Vancouver to celebrate "420""The Vancouver Sun. Archived from the original on September 10, 2014. Retrieved September 30,2009.
  30. Jump up^ "Marijuana protest planned for the Vancouver Art Gallery despite 4/20 moving to Sunset Beach". April 19, 2016.
  31. Jump up^ Johnson, Lisa (April 20, 2016). "4/20 pot rally draws tens of thousands in Vancouver"CBC News. Retrieved April 20, 2016.
  32. Jump up^ Davies, Pete (April 21, 2010). "Washington Square Gets Its Grit Back on 420 Day - Curbed NY"Curbed. Retrieved January 7,2018.
  33. Jump up^ "Denver's new Mile High 420 Festival announces all-star lineup " Denver Post". March 8, 2018. RetrievedMarch 14, 2018.
  34. Jump up^ Bookwalter, Genevieve (April 7, 2009). "Mom and Dad now know about '4/20'"Santa Cruz Sentinel. Archived from the original on April 10, 2009. Retrieved April 20, 2013.
  35. Jump up^ Gayle, Damien (April 21, 2016). "Police make 20 arrests at cannabis picnic in London's Hyde Park"the Guardian. RetrievedMay 5, 2016.
  36. Jump up^ Johnson, Gene. "How 4/20 ... grew ... into a 'holiday'" Retrieved April 22, 2017.
  37. Jump up^ "Denver 420 event will be a mix of marijuana politics and celebration". Retrieved April 22, 2017.
  38. Jump up^ Porteous, Debbie (June 12, 2008). "Police swoop on cannabis protest"Otago Daily Times. Retrieved March 31, 2009.
  39. Jump up^ "420 Protest"Channel 9 News Dunedin. February 22, 2008.Archived from the original on October 22, 2008. RetrievedOctober 7, 2008.
  40. Jump up^ Porteous, Debbie (July 11, 2008). "Campus arrests follow marijuana complaints (+ video)"Otago Daily Times. RetrievedApril 22, 2009.
  41. Jump up^ Rudd, Allison (September 26, 2008). "Moore's appeal rejected".Otago Daily Times. Retrieved April 22, 2009.
  42. Jump up^ Rudd, Allison (July 22, 2008). "Lack of quorum foils cannabis vote"Otago Daily Times. Retrieved April 22, 2009.
  43. Jump up^ Rudd, Allison (September 20, 2008). "OUSA general meeting promises controversy"Otago Daily Times. Retrieved April 22,2009.
  44. Jump up^ Staples, John A.; Redelmeier, Donald A. (2018). "The April 20 Cannabis Celebration and Fatal Traffic Crashes in the United States". JAMA Internal Medicine178 (4): 569.doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2017.8298.
  45. Jump up^ "State alters 420 MM sign to thwart thieves"USA TODAY. Retrieved April 18, 2018.
  46. Jump up^ "Idaho replaces mile marker 420 with 419.9 to thwart stoners".KTVB. Retrieved August 18, 2015.
  47. Jump up^ "County finds fix for missing 420 signs"Post-Bulletin. RetrievedJuly 20, 2015.
  48. Jump up^ Only one shows up for pot bill (July 15, 2010). "Only one shows up for pot bill". Archived from the original on July 15, 2015. Retrieved July 15, 2015.
  49. Jump up^ World Drug Report 2016: Prevalence of drug use in the general population (XLS) (Report). United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. 2016.
  50. Jump up^ Czech Republic: Country Drug Report (PDF) (Report). European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction. 2017.
  51. Jump up^ "5 Myths About Cannabis In The Czech Republic"420 Meta. May 9, 2016.
  52. Jump up^ "EXCLUSIVE: Snoop Dogg Shows Off His Impressive Marijuana Knowledge With Martha Stewart on '$100,000 Pyramid'".Entertainment Tonight.
  53. Jump up^ "D.C. mayor offers pot activist Tag 420 for his efforts". Washington Post.