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Over the last decade, 420 has become a Hallmark holiday for weed smokers, but the day’s origins have been long disputed.
Now, five California stoners have set the record straight, revealing both the term’s origins and the important part it played in driving the legalisation of marijuana.
You might want to spark up a yabba-dabba-doob for this one, because we’re going way back to 1970s California, when then-highschoolers Steve Capper, Dave Reddix, Jeffrey Noel, Larry Schwartz and Mark Gravitch coined the Christmas of getting high.
In a new interview with The Los Angeles Times, Capper and Reddix explained that themselves, Noel, Schwartz and Gravitch were part of a gang called the ‘Waldos’.
The fivesome chose the name because they would sit on a wall outside San Rafael High School’s cafeteria and perform impressions of their teachers and classmates.
One day in 1971, the Waldos came up with a fun way to pass their time and started embarking on adventures around the Golden State, referring to their escapades as ‘safaris’.
The LA Times notes: “There were two rules to safaris: They had to go somewhere new, and participants had to be stoned.”
On one particular ‘safari’, the Waldos decided to search for an abandoned patch of weed, and before setting off, the gang met at 4.20pm and smoked as much Panama Red and Acapulco Gold marijuana as their lungs could handle.
Their 4.20pm meeting time stuck, and from then on the Waldos used 420 as code whenever they wanted to light up a doob.
The Waldos claim to have ‘thoroughly documented’ their use of 420 as secret code via high school newspaper clippings, postmarked letters and apparently even U.S. military records.
Comfortable speaking openly about their cannabis use thanks to marijuana’s widespread legalisation across California, Capper and Reddix told the LA Times: “We could use [the secret code 420] in front of our parents, teachers, cops, friends, whatever, and they never knew what we were talking about.”
As for why it means so much to the cannabis community, Capper explained: “[420 celebrations] were kind of the ground zero of getting weed legalised. It was the beginning of [marijuana] activism and fighting back.”
He added: “420 certainly was a catalyst for legalisation and reform.”
However, Capper admitted that cannabis culture has changed since the 70s, noting its commercialisation detracts from what the community initially stood for.
Pointing to the easygoing ethos of the grooviest decade in existence, Capper concluded: “Goodwill, friendliness, kindness, tolerance. To have that kind of spirit surround the industry, I hope that continues.”
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