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The 420 movement in the cannabis world

Cannabis is a culture on its own. We know that. But, in case anyone needed any affirmation, the 420 movement reaffirms it. But what does 420 stand for, where does it come from, where is the movement going, and what does this number mean for cannabis users? There are many questions that have arisen over the years as to why 420 - pronounced "four twenty" not "four hundred and twenty" - has become an icon and a culture, and in today's article we will try to uncover them. 

Let's start at the end. Before breaking down the history and the whys and wherefores of 420, it is necessary to know that this movement has led to the "celebration" or claim to a day of its own: 20 April. But what happens today when this day arrives? The truth is that the answer is, like everything else, diverse. The movements depend largely on the country in which one lives and how socially accepted the plant is.

420 today

Looking back through history, we see that, at the turn of the century, 420 events on 20 April were already popular in order to raise awareness against its illegal situation. So we understand that this issue has become one of the most significant banners of the struggle for legalisation, sharing the day with another important event: the Global Marijuana March.

But let's continue with the number. There are many coincidences and references that we can find in our daily lives that evoke the 420. Huffington PostIn 2003, when the California legislature codified the medical marijuana law that voters had approved, the bill was called SB 420. "We believe the person responsible was a staffer working for [Assembly chief sponsor Mark] Leno, but no one has admitted it," says Steph Sherer, director of Americans for Safe Access, which lobbied politically for the bill. California legislative staffers have said that this 420 denomination story remains a mystery...". 

The various theories on 420

On the other hand, there are a number of theories that have arisen from the controversial numbering. One example is that Bob Marley's birthday (the police code for smoking cannabis) is said to come from Bob Dylan's song "Rainy Day Women", which contains the phrase "everybody's got to get high", since 12 x 35 = 420. Who knows.

But, leaving speculation and supposition aside, let's look at the origins of this "motto". The story, now a symbol of the cannabis world, dates back to 1971, when a group of friends from San Rafael High School in Northern California came across a hand-drawn map that supposedly located a marijuana grow in Point Reyes, northwest of San Francisco.

The friends, who called themselves "the Waldos", met after school at 4.20 at a statue of Louis Pasteur (which became the abbreviation "420 Louis"), and set off in search of their treasure. They never found it.

The "Waldos" and the origins of the term

This group of friends, during the time they spent looking for it, started using the term "420", which became a multi-functional linguistic tool used for anything related to cannabis. 

Later, the term spread to another group, even larger than the Waldos, who called themselves "the Deadheads" and adopted the cannabis jargon, also spreading it through their fans. But the initial leap to the masses came when one of the band members passed a flyer referring to the number 420 to journalist Steve Bloom, who at the time worked for the US cannabis magazine High Times.

This same journalist, over time, has commented that the term initially created by the Waldos and adapted by the Deadheads has served as a kind of "semi-private code", which tends to be seen everywhere: street numbers, prices, hours and even in film culture. 


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