April 20 may have a reputation as being something of a “high holiday,” but potheads across the country are doing a lot more than just lolling around on the grass smoking joints and taking bong hits in their basements.
“National Weed Day” (started by a group of five stoner California high school friends in 1970), also gives activists the opportunity to stand together and speak out about the complex issues surrounding the legalization of pot.
Where does "420" come from?
Depending on whom you ask or their state of inebriation, there are as many varieties of answers as strains of medical bud in California. It's the number of active chemicals in marijuana. It's teatime in Holland. It has something to do with Hitler's birthday. It's those numbers in that Bob Dylan song multiplied.
The origin of the term 420, celebrated around the world by pot smokers every April 20, has long been obscured by the clouded memories of the folks who made it a phenomenon.
Today the code often creeps into popular culture and mainstream settings. Some of the clocks in "Pulp Fiction," for instance, are set to 4:20. A "Price Is Right" contestant won YouTube celebrity by bidding either $420 or $1,420 for everything. In 2003, when the California Legislature codified the medical marijuana law that voters had approved, the bill was named SB 420.
"We think it was a staffer working for [lead Assembly sponsor Mark] Leno, but no one has ever fessed up," says Steph Sherer, head of Americans for Safe Access, which lobbied on behalf of the bill.
California legislative staffers spoken to for this story say that the 420 designation remains a mystery, but that both Leno and the lead Senate sponsor, John Vasconcellos, are hip enough that they must have known what it meant. Vasconcellos says he has no idea how it got the number 420 and wouldn't have known what it meant at the time.
The code also pops up in Craigslist postings when fellow smokers search for "420 friendly" roommates. "It's just a vaguer way of saying it, and it kind of makes it kind of cool," says Bloom, the pot journalist. "Like, you know you're in the know, but that does show you how it's in the mainstream."
-- Huffington Post
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