You may have heard people talking about “four-twenty” (4/20) lately. It usually comes up at this time of year. But, if you’re not familiar with the term, you may be asking yourself just what people are talking about.
It is a kind of code among people who smoke marijuana (although it is well-known among non-smokers, too) to reference marijuana and things associated with it. The term “4/20 friendly” means a person or establishment is accepting of marijuana.
In recent years, 4/20 has been associated with the date April 20. It can also be said in reference to the time of day, 4:20 (usually pm). The number combination, especially in reference to the date, has become synonymous with marijuana culture and the marijuana legalization movement.
On that date, it is common for people to gather in a designated spot and smoke marijuana in mass numbers. Even in places where marijuana is illegal, these types of mass demonstrations almost never result in any arrests because they are usually peaceful and it would be cumbersome for police to try and arrest so many people at once.
If you hear people talking about “going to 4/20” they are almost certainly talking about attending one of these demonstrations in their respective communities on April 20. But, 4/20 can also be used in reference to marijuana in general at any time of the year or any time of the day.
Where is it from?
One common misconception is that the date 4/20 has something to do with late reggae singer and marijuana enthusiast Bob Marley. Typically, it was said to either be his birthday or the date of his death. However, Marley was neither born nor did he die on April 20.
On the Wikipedia page for 4/20 [420 (cannabis culture)], the origins are said to go back to a small group of teenagers in San Rafael, California who, back in 1971, met at a designated spot at 4:20 pm each day to search for an abandoned marijuana crop they had heard about.
The teens would talk to each other about their meetings and hunts for the crop (which they apparently never found) with the phrase “four-twenty.” This eventually became a phrase for them that signified marijuana smoking in general. The phrase was eventually picked up by High Times magazine (a popular cannabis culture magazine) and spread through that media. It was also apparently adopted by followers of the band The Grateful Dead.
Exactly how the date April 20 got connected with the phrase is unclear, but it is now an international counter-culture holiday with unofficial events held across North America and in several countries around the world.
This, of course, makes 4/21 unofficial national “random” drug testing day.