The meaning behind 420 has become a thing of legend. These numbers have ingrained themselves so tightly into cannabis culture they’ve taken on a personality all their own. In this article, I’ll take about the origin of 420 primarily from a cannabis point of view, but I’ll also discuss some additional meanings that are not cannabis related.
Ready? I hope so. Let’s start everything off by talking about a small group of high school students who changed our culture forever.
Where Does 420 Come From?
There are a lot of theories on where 420 came from. The true story is, well, whichever one is most accepted by the masses I guess. That story is the one I’m going to quickly share with you now. I’ll go on to discuss some other meaning which people have associated with 420.
It all started in the early 70’s. This was a time when the Grateful Dead were in their prime. At the high school in San Rafael, California a group of stoners used to call themselves the Waldos. This was simply because they liked to get together next to a certain wall when they would gather to smoke. Due to class
Due to class schedules, they began to meet at 4:20 every day to smoke. Shortly after, they began using 420 as a sort of code word when they were discussing cannabis. This code word spread and has become what we know it as today.
420 in Today’s Culture
It’s hard to believe that a simple code word among friends in the 70s would have such a profound effect on today’s culture. Everyone I know is familiar with the concept of 420 regardless if they smoke or not.
So, what exactly does it mean now? When used alone the numbers typically just refer to weed in general. However, depending on the context it can mean several things, but they all have one commonality – cannabis.
4:20 & 4/20 – A Time and Date To Smoke
Smoking weed at 4:20 was the root of its origin, and the tradition hasn’t faded a bit. Some smokers still make it a point to smoke at this iconic time. Even if you’re not smoking, many people will still think of weed anytime they see the clock strike 4:20.
4:20 translated well to 4/20. Thus April, 20th has been dubbed a smoker’s holiday for decades. Having an unofficial holiday was never the original intent, but it hasn’t stopped smokers from around the world in getting together for a toke.
420 friendly is a phrased used across several platforms. It’s a slightly more discrete way to express your view on cannabis. You’ll see it used as ‘420 friendly’ and ‘not 420 friendly’.
One place you may find this used is on Craigslist. You’re likely searching for a place to rent and you’ll see this in the description. If a house is 420 friendly then you’ll be expected to at least tolerate cannabis use at the house. If an ad states the place in not 420 friendly then don’t expect to be able to use it anywhere on the premises.
Another place you’ll commonly see people use 420 friendly is on dating sites and apps. If a person mentions this then it is something that is a big deal to them.
420 Blaze It
420 Blaze It has become a popular saying in today’s culture. It’s become a very tongue and cheek way of referring to smoking. Most the time it’s used as a joke and not a serious phrase.
A Few Myths About 420
A lot of myths have gone around over the years about the meaning of 420. There are truly too many to count or care about. I’m going to hit on a few of the more popular myths.
It’s no surprise that Bob Marley’s name has been attributed to 420 – they’re both synonymous with weed. The truth is, that where their connection ends. Many people believe that 4/20 was the birth or death of Bob Marley, but a quick google search proves otherwise. Bob Marley Lived February 6, 1945 – May 11, 1981. Some also say it is Ziggy Marley’s birthday. Again, a really simple google search shows Ziggy was born on October 17, 1968.
Another common myth is that 420 is the police code for drugs or weed. This is is not true. There are no known police forces who use this as a code for weed. It is used as other police codes, though. For example, Las Vegas police department used code 420 to refer to a homicide.
Some Additional Meaning of 420 (non-weed related)
Most often, you’re pretty safe assuming 420 is a reference to weed, however, there are a few instances when 420 does have an entirely different meaning. I briefly discuss those below.
420 Spiritual Meaning
Cannabis aside, there are additional esoteric meanings of 420. What are those meanings? Well, it really depends on who you ask.
Some spiritualists believe in angel numbers, a concept popularized by Dorren Virtue. Each number is associated with a different angel. If you see a recurring number then it’s a specific angel sending you a message.
Different spiritualists claim different meanings for the Angel Number 420. Some believe 420 means you are connected with the divine and are being reminded to continue strong in your spiritual path. Others say it’s an omen for a bad business year to come.
This idea of number synchronicity is common throughout numerology. Many numerologists believe the number 420 has ties to the harmony within your household.
Hindi / Indian
In Indian culture the number 420 refers to a penal code. It places a punishment of up to 7 years and a fine to any who is found guilty of cheating or being dishonest when inducing the delivery of a product.
A popular movie, Chachi 420, is a direct reference to this penal code.
420 In The Bible
There are a number of verses in the bible that fall on 4:20. I’m not going to list them all, but here are a few of my favorites. I think there are some fun coincidences.
- Luke 4:20 – Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him.
- Daniel 4:20 – The tree you saw, which grew large and strong, with its top touching the sky, visible to the whole earth,…
There is also a verse in the King James Version Bible, Revelation, 5:14 which states, “And the four beasts said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshiped him that liveth for ever and ever.” This really doesn’t have much correlation to anything, but I figured I’de throw it out there anyway.
4/20 also carries some religious significance because from time to time easter will fall on 4/20. It happened in 2014 and it will happen again in 2025.
Check Engine Light
Lastly, we have the 420 check engine light code. I know, it’s a stretch, but I’m just trying to be thorough. It really depends on what kind of vehicle you have, but it’s likely a problem with your catalytic converter.
Thanks for reading! I hope you learned something new. If you enjoyed this article then here are a few more I think you may like: