A History of 420

There are many origin myths surrounding the number 420 and its association with marijuana. Some say it’s because it was the code police officers used to call in weed arrests. But it turns out that the real story behind 420 started out at a Northern California high school in the ’70s.


A group of students decided to meet after school at 4:20 pm, when school was over for the day, to search for a legendary weed patch. Unfortunately, they never found it, but eventually, the term 420 Louis, and then just 420, caught on. The “Louis” part of the original term indicated where the students were to meet, next to a statue of Louis Pasteur.

The term 420 went from a local phrase to a global term for smoking weed when a group of “Deadheads” made fliers for a Grateful Dead concert in Oakland. The flier not only created the myth that 420 was a police code, but it also encouraged people to smoke weed at 4:20 pm on April 20th.

The creators of that poster are unknown, but their legacy of 420 lives on to this day.

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