A Man Rolling A Joint with a Guitar in the background out of focus

Knowledge is Power


April 20th is almost here! The biggest day in cannabis, 4-20, is a nationally-celebrated event. Every year, people around the country celebrate all things cannabis. Awareness, legalization, benefits, and (of course) consumption are the pillars of the day.

But why 420? What is it about April 20th that makes it so closely tied to cannabis? The answer isn’t as clear as you may think. If you ask ten people, you may very likely get ten answers. So, let’s take a moment then to dig a little and discover the reason for the season, along with what the celebration has come to stand for and what’s happening here at Insa on the big day.


The first, and perhaps most important, question to ask ourselves is this: Why 420? As many of us may know, the date, April 20th, is the day to celebrate cannabis because the number (420) is synonymous with cannabis. But why that number? (See the rabbit hole here?) Well, like most good mysteries, there are a few different theories out there.

The most popular theory is that 420 is the Los Angeles police code for marajuana possession. So naturally, 420 became the code word for smoking marjuana. However, these claims are unverified.

A more scientific theory, some claim that there are 420 active chemicals in marijuana. Unfortunately, this is also untrue. There are over 500 different active chemicals in marijuana. So this theory can be chocked up to an inaccurate chemist.

Another popular theory, and one with some evidence behind it, is that it was started by a group of friends who called themselves “the Waldos.” Allegedly, back in the ‘70’s a bunch of friends in California would meet up everyday at 4:20 pm, as their day was winding down to gather and smoke maruajana together. After a while, their standing appointment time became the code word for their meet-ups. The trend caught on and the code word spread along with it. This story also has been verified by the Waldos themselves. However, it hasn’t been confirmed by any outside sources, so the whole thing is hazy.

The Waldos not only claim responsibility for linking 420 and cannabis, they also claim they popularized it, with the help of one of Rock n’ Rolls biggest names. Apparently, the Waldos were closely connected with the Grateful Dead in the ‘70s and ‘80s. All of the Waldos had all-access passes to the band’s shows. So, the Waldos taught the Grateful Dead and the grateful dead taught the world.

The true answer behind 420’s origins may remain shrouded in smoke (figuratively). The celebrations that occur around the nation are also shrouded in smoke (literally), and there is a much more clear answer to why 420 grows more popular year after year.


420 puts the spotlight on cannabis. For many, it’s simply a great spring day to gather with friends and celebrate the community around cannabis. In recent years, many have used 420’s popularity to advocate for 50 state and federal legalization of cannabis. 420 is a yearly public demonstration of cannabis and the power and size of its community. This is why so many 420 events are attended by pro-legalization politicians and activists alike.


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