Definition - What does 4:20 mean?

The term ‘4:20’ has come to be known as a ceremonial time to smoke or use marijuana. It denotes the specific date of April 20th as the day around the world when cannabis is embraced by enthusiasts. During 4:20, crowds of people gather to smoke or otherwise indulge in cannabis use in public spaces in order to celebrate the plant and its culture, in addition to push for legalization of its use.

In recent years, 4:20 pm has started to also represent a time of day to indulge in cannabis use. The origins of the term remain obscure. Many believe that the term can be traced back to the late 1970s, when law enforcement would use the code 420 to address ‘Marijuana Smoking in Progress’ across police radio systems. Cannabis smokers quickly started referring to the act as ‘420ing’.

However, some sources report that 4:20 was first used as a code by a group of students who called themselves the Waldo Group in San Rafael, California, in the early 1970s. At 4:20 in the afternoon, the students would head into the Point Reyes forest to gather, harvest, and smoke marijuana.

No matter what its true origins are, 4:20 has become famous around the world as not only the date, but also the time of day, to partake in cannabis consumption in one form or another.

Hydrolife explains 4:20

The term 4:20 spread around the world when the famous rock group the Grateful Dead first started using the phrase in their concerts during the late 1970s and 1980s. It was believed that members of the band were exposed to the expression by members of the original Waldo Group who they were friends and business associates with later in life.

High Times magazine quickly picked up the term 4:20 from the Grateful Dead concerts and their fans. The popular magazine quickly made the moniker an international phenomenon for cannabis use.

Despite its murky origins from a group of high school students, to a police code, to the famous rock group the Grateful Dead, and finally to High Times magazine, there is little doubt that 4:20 is now a widely accepted term used to denote cannabis use in popular culture and society.

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