What is 420? History Behind 420
Everybody knows 4:20 is the time to smoke pot. And everybody knows 4/20 is the pot-smoking day. But not many people, not even the oldest and most ardent pot smokers, knows why or how the number 420 became linked to pot smoking.
420, 4:20, or 4/20 is cannabis culture slang for marijuana and hashish consumption, especially smoking around the time 4:20 p.m., and also refers to cannabis-oriented celebrations that take place annually on April 20.
Origin Of 420
In 1971, five high school students in San Rafael, California used the term "4:20" in connection with a plan to search for an abandoned cannabis crop, based on a treasure map made by the grower. Calling themselves the Waldos, because their typical hang-out spot "was a wall outside the school", the five students — Steve Capper, Dave Reddix, Jeffrey Noel, Larry Schwartz, and Mark Gravich—designated the Louis Pasteur statue on the grounds of San Rafael High School as their meeting place, and 4:20 pm as their meeting time. The Waldos referred to this plan with the phrase "4:20 Louis". After several failed attempts to find the crop, the group eventually shortened their phrase to "4:20", which ultimately evolved into a code-word the teens used to refer to consuming cannabis.
Steven Hager of High Times popularized the story of the Waldos.The first High Times mention of 4:20 smoking and a 4/20 holiday appeared in May 1991, and the connection to the Waldos appeared in December 1998. Hager attributed the early spread of the phrase to Grateful Dead followers – after "Waldo" Reddix became a roadie for the Grateful Dead's bassist, Phil Lesh– and called for 4:20 pm to be the socially accepted time of the day to consume cannabis.
What 420 Means to Today's Generation
Kids may not realize that 420 is a term that's been around for a while, so they might use it in front of adults thinking they're being secretive.
Today, the term 420 and references to marijuana are all over the social media, games, music, and websites that teens are using every day. This can make it seem cool or that "everyone is doing it," and research has shown that if kids are frequently exposed to marijuana use, they are more likely to try it themselves. They might also feel peer pressure to try it, especially if they think it is a "typical" teenage experience.
In addition, because marijuana is legal in several states, kids might think that it is safe to use. But this is not true, which is why it is not legal for anyone under 21 in any state.
Marijuana can cause harm to children and adolescents' brains by affecting their ability to learn and remember information. It also poses a risk of bronchitis, dropping out of school, engaging in risky sexual behavior, and car accidents. Teens are also more likely to become addicted to it if they begin using it before the age of 18, and they are at a greater risk for mental health impacts, including panic attacks or even acute psychosis.
While some might use the term 420 and never actually use marijuana, that's not true for all kids. So if you hear your child refer to it, you might still want to talk to them about it, figure out if they are using, and address it if they are.
So breathe deep folks, and remember, weed isn't a bad thing.