Do you think you know the history of the greenest holiday? Test your knowledge with our blog.

April 20th has long been known as the 420 holiday. It’s when the cannabis community gathers to celebrate their favorite herb. 

But 420 isn’t only important in April. 

Throughout the year, cannabis consumers seek like-minded companions by marking themselves as 420-friendly in dating ads and apartment searches and cracking 420 jokes when the afternoon rolls around. 

So what does 420 mean? And where did this mythic number come from? Let’s take a deep dive into the lore and legend of this legendary number.

What does 420 mean?

So what is the significance of 420? Put simply, it’s an easy shorthand for flagging your appreciation of all things cannabis.

Of course, 420’s meaning changes depending on context.

In some instances, it can refer to cannabis itself or the act of consuming it. It can signal a willingness to meet up and smoke up or merely an appreciation for cannabis as an art form.

No matter how it appears, 420 means cannabis—and it signals that cannabis lovers are in for a good time!

Where did 420 originate?

We know the meaning of the number, but why is 420 associated with weed?

There are a few theories, but the truth behind the link between 420 and cannabis is shrouded in mystery. 

Some people claim that 420 was California law enforcement’s way to flag crimes associated with marijuana before it was legal in the state. Still, no evidence has emerged to support that theory. 

But if it’s not the cops, where did 420 come from? While the origins of 420 are officially unconfirmed, we have a pretty good idea of where it came from. 

According to cannabis lore, 420 got started back in the 1970s in San Rafael High School in Marin, California. 

Every afternoon, when school let out at 4:20, a group of students calling themselves the Waldos would gather at the flagpole in front of their school to smoke up and search for a field of cannabis one of the student’s older brothers claimed to have planted before he left for Vietnam. 

While they never did find the field, the students would signal their intent to keep searching by whispering “420” to each other in the hallways, marking the first recorded use of the term.

Who popularized 420?

Starting out in a small-town high school, the originators of the term 420 would never have guessed that their inside joke would achieve national and even international fame.

But that’s what happened, as the significance of 420 spread through an event that would go down in cannabis history.

The reason? The patron saint of 70s pot enthusiasts was the Grateful Dead, who had recently moved into town. 

One of the kid’s older brothers was a manager for the Dead’s bassist, and they quickly became integrated into their social scene. 

After graduation, one of the Waldos reportedly went on tour with the Dead as a roadie, where he introduced the band and their followers to the top-secret 420 code.

The band’s dedicated following of Deadheads picked up on the code, and as the lore spread, 420 became a code word for smoking cannabis. 

The term’s fame was cemented on the national stage when High Times Magazine created an event to explain the code, calling for cannabis fans to meet up at a Marin County overlook and light up their joints at 4:20 PM, kicking off the first official April celebration.

Every year when April rolled around, 4/20 became the perfect excuse to indulge in cannabis with friends and loved ones.

What is 420-friendly?

Aside from the date itself, you might see 420 mentioned in ads where people are looking for friends, roommates, or dates identifying as 420-friendly. So what does 420-friendly mean?

As you might have guessed, the answer to what is 420-friendly is subjective, but it generally implies a permissive attitude towards cannabis consumption. 

Someone who is 420-friendly might not smoke every day, but they’re cool with living, hanging with, and dating those who do!

Where is the biggest 420 celebration?

Once you find your 420 friends by posting a 420-friendly ad (or two), it’s time to get down with the many 420 festivities April has to offer!

When is 420? April 20th, of course! Here are some of the biggest and best places to say happy 420:


  • The Mile High 420 Festival in Denver is the largest free 420 event in the world
  • The Hash Bash in Michigan is a fun yet political push for legalization
  • 420 on Hippie Hill in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park is a great way to honor the holiday’s origins 
  • The National Cannabis Festival is a massive 420 party in DC, featuring live music, swag, and even weed weddings
  • SweetWater420 in Atlanta is a weed-themed music festival
  • Outside of the US, 420 Hyde Park is the UK’s biggest smoke out
  • 420 Vancouver celebrates the city’s cannabis culture on Sunset Beach
420 & Cannabis Plants art

420 Jokes

Lest you show up at the smoke out empty-handed, we wanted to supply you with some of our favorite 420 jokes!

What do you call a stoner with two spliffs?


A cop asks a stoner, “How high are you?”

The stoner says, “No, officer. It’s ‘Hi, how are you.’

How do fish get high?

On seaweed.

What do you call a potato that smokes weed?

A baked potato.

Lightshade’s 420 Deals

Lightshade has some special 420 deals just for you to celebrate the holiest day of the stoner calendar. Check ‘em out on the specials section of our website, or ask your friendly neighborhood budtender for the inside scoop!

Get those deals!