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The Origin Of 420 And Why It’s Associated With Marijuana

USCS 420 via YouTube
USCS 420 via YouTube

I am always late to the party when it comes to counterculture vernacular. The language of the street doesn’t fit easily into my brain but I do know what 420 is.

Today is 4/20, it’s the twentieth day of the fourth month. It is also an unofficial celebration day for those who support smoking pot for medical, personal, or recreational reasons.

The origin for “420” according to a Huffington Post article dates back to the early 1970’s when a group of California high school kids decided to go searching for a “lost field of weed”. In the article, former members of the group said the 420 phrase was taken from their proposed meeting time after school. They would meet at 4:20 and go search for the pot field.

As luck would have it these high school kids had a connection with one of the most influential counterculture bands of the late 60’s and early 70’s, The Grateful Dead. It was through their personal connection with the band that the connection between the numbers 4-2-0 spread across the nation and eventually the world as a code word for using marijuana.

Today at 4:20 PM across the nation groups of pot smokers will gather. In states where it’s legal, the smoky celebrations will naturally be more public and better attended. It’s a symbolic gesture I suppose. There will be groups of zombie-like people standing around in a cloud of smoke feeling very American and happily paused. Think of it as a political protest where only mannequins showed up.

This also means that later on the TV news channels you will see rising young reporters attempting to interview people who are too stoned to put enough words together to form a sentence. It will make for some cringe-worthy television at best and perhaps some rather unique YouTube moments. 

In the past, most of these 420 gatherings have been quite peaceful and mellow.After all smoking dope doesn’t make you want to fight, yell, or do anything. Seriously pot smokers are quite content to sit around and well, sit around some more.  That’s what I mean by “happily paused”.

One other thing you should be aware of today. I would imagine by 4:30 or so there will be a rather long line at Taco Bell.

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