420, 4:20, or 4/20 (pronounced four-twenty) is a code-term used primarily in North America that refers to the consumption of cannabis and by extension, as a way to identify oneself with cannabis subculture or simply cannabis itself. Observances based on the number 420 include smoking cannabis around the time 4:20 p.m. (with some sources also indicating 4:20 a.m.), on any given day, as well as smoking and celebrating cannabis on the date April 20 (4/20 in American form).
A widely discussed story says that a group of teenagers in San Rafael, California, calling themselves the Waldos, because, "their chosen hang-out spot was a wall outside the school", used the term in connection with a fall 1971 plan to search for an abandoned cannabis crop that they had learned about. The Waldos designated the Louis Pasteur statue on the grounds of San Rafael High School as their meeting place, and 4:20 p.m. as their meeting time. The Waldos referred to this plan with the phrase "4:20 Louis". After multiple attempts to find the crop failed, their phrase eventually was shortened to simply "4:20", which ultimately evolved into a codeword that the teens used to mean pot-smoking in general.Mike Edison says that Steve Hager of High Times was responsible for taking the story about the Waldos to "mind-boggling, cult like extremes" and "suppressing" all other stories about the origin of the term.
Hager wrote "Stoner Smart or Stoner Stupid?" in which he called for 4:20 p.m. to be the socially accepted hour of the day to consume cannabis. He attributes the early spread of the phrase to Grateful Dead followers, who were also linked to the city of San Rafael.
^ abMcKinley, Jesse (April 19, 2009). "Marijuana Advocates Point to Signs of Change". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 20 January 2011. Retrieved January 23, 2011. "Mr. Hager said the significance of April 20 dates to a ritual begun in the early 1970s in which a group of Northern California teenagers smoked cannabis every day at 4:20 p.m. Word of the ritual spread and expanded to a yearly event in various places. Soon, cannabis aficionados were using "420" as a code for smoking and using it as a sign-off on flyers for concerts where the drug would be plentiful. In recent years, the April 20 events have become so widespread that several colleges have discouraged students from participating. At the University of Colorado, Boulder, where thousands of students regularly use the day to light up in the quad, administrators sent an e-mail message this month pleading with students not to "participate in unlawful activity that debases the reputation of your university and degree.""
Legend: (Federal) = Federal holidays, (State) = State holidays, (Religious) = Religious holidays, (Week) = Weeklong holidays, (Month) = Monthlong holidays, (36) = Title 36 Observances and Ceremonies Bolded text indicates major holidays that are commonly celebrated by Americans, which often represents the major celebration of the month.