Thursday, April 20, 2017

Holiday: Happy Marijuana Day!

4/20 Becomes A Day Of Reefer Madness

 

1971
Five friends at San Rafael High School in California coin the term "4:20" as a euphemism for smoking pot. April 20th becomes a popular day to spark one up, as does 4:20 pm. Note that the Boston song "Smokin'" clocks in at 4 minutes, 20 seconds, and if you multiply the title numbers in Bob Dylan's "Rainy Day Women #12 And #35," you get 420. Dude!

4/20 is a celebrated day in stoner culture, and there are almost as many tales about the origin of the term "420" as there are strains of the green stuff. Some people swear that it comes from the Bob Dylan song "Rainy Day Women #12 and 35," because if you happen to be sitting around doing math while you're high, you'll realize that multiplying 12 and 35 gets you 420. The fact that the chorus is a gleeful "Everybody must get stoned!" helps perpetuate the myth, but a myth is all it is.

Deadheads are known for their love of the herb, but they didn't coin the term. The Boston song "Smokin'" clocks in at 4 minutes, 20 seconds, and while that's a killer coincidence, that's not where 420 starts either. It has nothing to do with police codes or the birth or death dates of any rock legends, and it definitely doesn't originate with any historical events that we wish we could forget.

Here's the truth: In the late 1970s, a group of teens at San Rafael High School in Northern California discover a mutual love of the sticky sweet herb. Since toking up in the halls is frowned upon even in the liberal '70s, the students - who call themselves the Waldos because they like to lean on walls - have to wait until after school to get high, so they meet up at 4:20 every day to smoke the devil's lettuce. 420 soon becomes a not-really-secret euphemism for getting stoned, and decades later, it becomes a solid part of our cultural lexicon.

In perhaps the most fitting commemoration of the number 420, legendary stoners Snoop Dogg (whose "Up In Smoke Tour" ended on 4/20/2000) and Willie Nelson record the song "Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die" on 4/20/2009, in - where else? - Amsterdam.

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