Pandemic of the century? Pfftth. The world’s millions of cannabis lovers are still gonna rage on 4/20 this year.
And the stay-at-home online sessions of 2020 are actually more in spirit 420’s origin than most even realize.
Just ask the people that invented it, The Waldos—a group of 1970s California high school kids who are happy to explain.
The phrase “420” started as an inside joke at a Northern California high school in 1971—a way to say to friends “let’s go get baked” without anyone knowing what they were talking about. It was a way to create cannabis community in the face of a brutal outside world.
Adapting to a harsh environment
Back then, the youth were dealing with upwards of 100,000 marijuana arrests per year in California alone. In addition to the unjust war on pot, Americans were dying in droves in the Vietnam War, which cost more than 58,000 US lives before it ended in 1975.
Amidst that nasty backdrop, this little high school clique rallied often at 4:20 p.m. at the designated spot.
“Back in the 1970s, we did what we needed to do to adapt to the environment—all the drug suppression,” Waldo Steve Capper told Leafly last week. “We figured out a code to be able to talk amongst ourselves in that environment.”
“We adapted bongs out of Coke cans and watermelons and apples,” said Waldo Dave. “Now, it’s no different. We have to adapt, so we adapt.”