Skip to content
4:20 Explained

4:20 Explained

Ever wondered why 4:20 is highly associated with cannabis culture? I thought it was this whole complicated story that would blow my socks off. But it’s a very simple explanation. 


The one that’s widely accepted is the Waldos story which dates back to the 70s in California, where a group of five high school friends in San Rafael High School in Marin County, California called themselves the “Waldos” who used to meet at 4:20 pm to smoke weed. The group is composed of Steve Capper, Dave Reddix, Jeffrey Noel, Larry Schwartz, and Mark Gravich who were all known for their love of weed. 

As a code, they would use “4:20” for marijuana and it gradually caught on among their friends and the wider cannabis community.

How did it become a global holiday? Dave Reddix’s brother helped him get work with Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh. The band is said to have helped popularize the term and gain a massive uptake on the term. 

On December 28, 1990, a group of Deadheads in Oakland handed out flyers to invite people to smoke “420”, April 20 at 4:20 pm. One flyer ended up in Steve Bloom’s possession, a former reporter for High Times magazine, a magazine known for cannabis culture. The magazine printed the flyer in 1991 and continued to use the number as reference. Soon, it eventually caught on and became a worldwide code for marijuana. 

Over time, the term “4:20” became associated with April 20th (4/20), which is now celebrated as a counterculture holiday and an occasion for people to gather and smoke weed together. 

Bob Dylan

Another theory suggests that “4:20” was inspired by the title of Bob Dylan’s song “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35.” The theory suggests that if you multiply 12 by 35 (the two numbers in the song title), you get 420. 

However, this theory is unlikely as there is no evidence to support it, and there is no indication that Bob Dylan or the song had any direct connection to the term “4:20”.

Also, the math equation is a little bit of a stretch, ain’t it?

Tea Time

Spilling the tea on the 4:20, a theory suggests that 4:20 was inspired by the tradition of British tea time, which is typically around 4:00 pm. According to this, cannabis users would gather at 4:20 pm to enjoy their own version of tea time, which involved smoking weed instead of drinking tea. 

It’s both consuming leaves, either you filter and drink it or just smoke it. Same same. 

Police Code

One of the most widely known myths of the “4:20” origin is the police code. It is believed that cops use the term 420 to refer to marijuana use or possession.

This is a myth because the only code at any law enforcement reference we found is the California Penal Code 420 which is Obstruction of Entry on a Public Land. 


There are a lot of myths or versions of the story of how 4:20 came to be.

For your next 4:20 celebration or just for your next random session with the crew, grab your handy Buckit hat.

You know what’s dope about our hats? Secret pockets to put your stash in!

Quick Shop