by Tina Manzer
If you’re new to cannabis, our brand “FLX 420” (“eff ell ex four twenty”) might have you asking some questions. FLX is a direct reference to our lake-y region, but the term “420” is universal. Worldwide, the number is code for marijuana use, especially smoking. It’s become an icon with roots so embedded in the culture that April 20 is considered a holiday.
(4/20 – get it?)
How that particular number became connected to cannabis is the stuff of urban legends. One theory suggests that it’s a reference to the Bob Dylan song, “Rainy Day Women No. 12 & 35” and its oft-quoted lyric, “Everybody must get stoned.” If you multiply 12 by 35, you get 420.
Another theory is that it was once police code for pot busts.
More sinister explanations connect it to Adolf Hitler’s birthday, April 20, 1889, and the infamous day of the Columbine shootings in 1999.
But there are many theories. Just do a Google search, and you can fall down the rabbit hole as far as you’d like.
The most historically valid explanation, and the one best documented by reliable sources, surrounds a marijuana meeting of sorts attended by five California students every day at 4:20 p.m. Legend has it that in 1971, the “Waldos” (because they met near a wall by a statue of Louis Pasteur on their high-school campus …) got together to search for an abandoned cannabis crop in a nearby forest.
“We would remind each other in the hallways we were supposed to meet up at 4:20,” Steve Capper, one of the Waldos, told the Huffington Post in 2017. “It originally started out ‘4:20-Louis’ and we eventually dropped the Louis.”
At the designated time, the Waldos would pile into Steve’s ’66 Chevy Impala “and of course we’d smoke instantly and smoke all the way out to Point Reyes and smoke the entire time we were out there,” Capper explains. “We did it week after week.”
They never found the treasure, but they continued to meet. By referring to their cannabis consumption as 420, they were able to disguise the practice from teachers, parents and law enforcement officials. The term stuck.
Today, even though the secret is out of the bag, 420 lives on both in spirit and practice for those who are passionate and habitual about cannabis consumption. Cannabis activists use April 20 as a day for celebration, but also to raise awareness. As cannabis continues to be legalized in more states, many marijuana users gather in public spaces at 4:20 p.m. on April 20 every year to protest wherever it remains illegal.
So, next time you see the date, or time, or simply the number 420, you’ll know a bit more about what it means to so many people around the world.