'Happy 420'? How Did Marijuana Holiday Get its Name?

Has someone wished you a Happy 420 today? It's probably not because he or she is celebrating Hitler's birthday, although he was born on April 20, or 4/20. More likely they're marking the counterculture holiday unofficially known as National Weed Day.

There are all sorts of rumors about how the term 420 came to be associated with lighting up a joint, but according to the myth-busting website Snopes.com, it was born in the 1970s at San Rafael High School in California, where about a dozen students gathered each day at 4:20 p.m. to smoke pot.

VIDEO:The Marijuana Millionaire

Over the years, theories about the meaning of 420 have pointed to California's penal code section for marijuana use, the police radio code for smoking pot, and the best day to plant cannabis, according to Snopes.

Dozens of rallies around the country were planned today to call for the legalization of marijuana. The executive director of the pro-pot organization NORML, Allen St. Pierre, is urging supporters to donate $420 to support a ballot initiative in California that would effectively legalize cannabis.

The issue is gaining ground in the age of President Barack Obama, writes Ryan Grim, the author of "This Is Your Country on Drugs: The Secret History of Getting High in America." In a roundup of efforts across the nation to decriminalize marijuana, Grim says the "momentum is thanks to Obama's announcement that he would not raid shops or patients operating within state laws."

-- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 10424976. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 10424976. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 10424976. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 10424976. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 10424976.
Join the Discussion
You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...
See It, Share It
PHOTO: Firefighters rescue a woman who got stuck in a chimney in Thousand Oaks, Calif.
Ventura County Fire Department
PHOTO: Up in Ash: Mount Sinabung Erupting
Tibt Nangin/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
PHOTO: Apple Pay is demonstrated at Apple headquarters on Oct. 16, 2014 in Cupertino, Calif.
Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP Photo
PHOTO: Defendant Jodi Arias testifies about killing Travis Alexander in 2008 during her murder trial in Phoenix, Feb. 20, 2013.
Charlie Leight/The Arizona Republic/AP Photo
PHOTO: Kim Kardashian, Kanye West, their daughter North West and Delphine Arnault attend the Givenchy show as part of the Paris Fashion Week Womenswear Spring/Summer 2015, Sept. 28, 2014 in Paris.
Bertrand Rindoff Petroff/French Select/Getty Images