Why we Toke: The Real Story behind 420
420 has become synonymous with a range of activities involving the sticky icky. It can refer to the herb’s presence, the toking hour, or the perennial celebrations of the wonderful plant known as cannabis every April 20th.
To trace this number’s origins, we have to travel back to San Rafael, California and the year 1971. The Waldos were a group of 5 high school students that would conduct joint sessions everyday at 4:20 PM. They got their name because their chosen smoke spot was “a wall outside the school”. The group originally used other codes to set up their meets but when all else failed, they began using the term “Four Twenty”.
One of the Waldos, Dave Reddix, ended up working as a roadie for the “Grateful Dead” bassist Phil Lesh. It was during this time that the 420 term really took hold and became popular. Dead Heads or fans of the Grateful Dead caught on the term and began using it for themselves. Further, they were the ones that called for 4:20 PM to be the universal toke time. All of this was discovered through a High Times article of May ‘91.
It is amazing to see the 4/20 movements around the world that take place today and think that a group of 5 stoners in California started it all. Today, 420 stands for a culture and subculture of activism, independence, and positivity and for that we are forever grateful to the San Rafael 5 - Steve Capper, Dave Reddix, Jeffrey Noel, Larry Schwartz, and Mark Gravich.