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Here’s the Real Reason We Associate 420 With Weed

B oth marijuana smokers and non-smokers recognize April 20 or 4/20 as a national holiday for cannabis culture, but few actually know how the date got chosen.

Some say “420” is code among police officers for “marijuana smoking in progress.” Some note 4/20 is also Adolf Hitler’s birthday. And some go as far as to cite Bob Dylan’s song “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35” because 12 multiplied by 35 equals 420.

But, to put it bluntly, those rumors of the history behind how April 20, and 4/20, got associated with marijuana are false.

The most credible story traces 4/20 to Marin County, Calif. In 1971, five students at San Rafael High School would meet at 4:20 p.m. by the campus’ statue of chemist Louis Pasteur to partake. They chose that specific time because extracurricular activities had usually ended by then. This group — Steve Capper, Dave Reddix, Jeffrey Noel, Larry Schwartz, and Mark Gravich — became known as the “Waldos” because they met at a wall. They would say “420” to each other as code for marijuana.

As Reddix told TIME in 2017, “We got tired of the Friday-night football scene with all of the jocks. We were the guys sitting under the stands smoking a doobie, wondering what we were doing there.”

Why is April 20 (4/20) considered 'Weed Day'? Here is the history of how 420 got associated with smoking smoking and the cannabis culture