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420 and the Waldos


420 statue

420 is not code among police officers for “marijuana smoking in progress.” There are not 420 chemical compounds found in cannabis (there are more than 500). 420 is not the anniversary of
Bob Marley’s death. The truth regarding how 420 became a symbol in culture is more adventurous than you’d imagine.

It’s always interesting to learn the origins of common phrases or slang, but to find out that it came from our own backyard was even more fascinating.

I’ll admit when I first began my journey into cannabis culture I associated the slang 420 with the negative stereotypes surrounding cannabis. In my mind, stoners were lazy, unintelligent, lacking drive, and mostly people seeking to escape “reality.” My view was narrow. As I began using the plant more frequently I realized I preferred to smoke weed and do something active. I was surprised when the plant left me more adventurous than it did stoney. Learning about the origin of this term was a surprise and a great story.

The Waldo’s are the originators of 420 slang. They were a group of 5 high school students, (nicknamed Waldo’s because they used to hang out together by a wall near their school).

For the Waldos, in 1971, 4:20 was the time of day when the 5 of them would meet at the Louis Pasteur statue outside of San Rafael High School and begin a clandestine adventure to find “weed” with a treasure map! They played sports and had other after-school activities and 4:20 was when they could all meet together. Their primary reason for meeting was because they had received a map from a friend whose brother was in the U.S. Coast Guard. The map was supposed to lead them to a patch of cannabis growing somewhere in the Point Reyes Peninsula and there was fear that if someone else found it, it would be destroyed, so the boys went hunting!

They began by saying “420 Louie” to remind one another of their after-school adventures, but quickly realized they could drop the “Louie” and continue talking about cannabis without anyone other than themselves knowing what it was they were discussing.

It wasn’t until years later that they realized it had become a cultural symbol for smoking weed. When the guys were asked how it spread across the world
they mentioned their relationship with the Grateful Dead was probably the biggest way, but even they weren’t totally sure.

Our mission at Nice Guys, aside from providing quality medicine to individuals in need, is to promote an active and adventurous way to explore cannabis. There is nothing good about stigma and that’s why we believe it’s important to change the way people view the plant and celebrate it’s benefits. Have a safe and happy 420!