“420” – part holiday, part greeting, part state of mind, this staple of cannabis culture has also been a source of confusion and incorrect speculation. For example, 420 is not the California penal code for possession of a controlled substance, nor is it the number of chemical compounds in marijuana (there are actually more than 500).
The roots of 420 go back to 1971 and a group of high school friends with great senses of humor, passion for adventure, and of course, tremendous love for marijuana. One of the favorite hangout places of these four friends was a wall near their school. The guys spent so much time by this wall; they started calling themselves The Waldos.
Together, the Waldos invented wildly creative games they would play on road trips they called “Waldo Safaris.” Some of these “interesting and true Waldo adventures” that the Waldos describe on their website include Golden Gate Bridge Bouncing, James Bond Waldo Infiltration and The Alberian Method™. When you get right down to it, these guys were older versions of The Goonies…who liked to get high.
One day (in true Goonies style), the Waldos received a “treasure map” from a friend whose brother was in the Coast Guard and claimed that it lead to an untended patch of marijuana. The Waldos immediately became obsessed with the idea of finding this motherlode of marijuana so they could harvest as much of it as they could. Despite their dedication to getting high, the Waldos had hectic after-school schedules. They had just a short window of time after their sports practices and before dinner with their families to plan their treasure hunting trips.
The time that worked for all of them was, you guessed it – 4:20.
Over the next few weeks, 420 became the Waldo’s code word for getting high and plotting their next road trip. The friends never found that legendary patch of weed but 420 lived on as their official rallying cry to get together, have some fun and, of course, enjoy a little cannabis.
420 probably would have remained an inside joke among the Waldos, but true to form, destiny came calling when Dave’s brother Patrick became friends with Phil Lesh from The Grateful Dead. As Waldo Dave explains: “Pat was friends with Phil and Pat managed a couple of Phil’s bands, “Too Loose to Truck” and “Seastones.” I was hired by Pat as a roadie for those two bands, getting high with them and spreading the term 420 which then spread through the deadhead community and evolved to what it is today.
According to the Huffington Post, The Waldos had open access to Dead parties and rehearsals. “We’d go with [Mark’s] dad, who was a hip dad from the ‘60s,” says Steve. “There was a place called Winterland and we’d always be backstage running around or onstage and, of course, we’re using those phrases. When somebody passes a joint or something, ‘Hey, 420.’ So it started spreading through that community.”
Even though one of the most influential bands in the early 1970’s helped spread the magic of 420, it wasn’t until the magazine High Times got wind of it and wrote about it in the May, 1991 issue that 420 started to go mainstream.
Thirty years later, 420 is to the cannabis community what Christmas is to Christians. While COVID-19 has forced the postponement of the usual festivals, rallies, art shows, and other special events, you can still honor the Waldos creativity by doing what they did best some 50 years ago.
At Rev Clinics, we’ve been celebrating 420 all month long with some of the best deals in our history. Of course, 420 is more than a great reason to stock up on your favorite products. As our Senior Wellness Consultant Barb says: “420 is like the Spirit of Aloha in Hawaii. It can mean different things in different situations. In many ways, it means whatever you want it to mean as long as you say it in a positive, upbeat way.” Patient Advocate and author of our weekly Rasta Review Lee agrees. “It doesn’t matter what time of day it is or what else is going on in your life. When you say 420 to someone, you’re spreading good vibes. Whether you consume cannabis or not, it’s just a nice thing to say.”
As for the Waldos themselves and how they feel about 420 today, we had the pleasure of exchanging a few emails with Waldo Dave, who shared this quote with us:
“The Waldos and our friends find it funny how our secret joke/code became a worldwide phenomenon now celebrated as the unofficial cannabis holiday. We also can’t believe that millions of people today can legally purchase cannabis after we spent so many hours trying not to get caught smoking it! In the spirit of April 20th, we encourage all celebrants to be kind to others, have fun, and pick up your mess before you leave! Happy 420, Earth!”
To learn more about the Waldos, CLICK HERE to visit their website and be sure to leave a comment to let them know how much you appreciate their creative contribution to cannabis culture! We can’t guarantee it, but you might hear back from Waldo Dave who was incredibly helpful in making this post happen.
If you’d like to learn if medical cannabis can help you live a happier life on 420, or any other day, please give us a call at 617-213-6006.