420 meaning: Why do people smoke cannabis on the 20th April at 4.20?

420 Meaning: 420 or 4/20 is an annual occasion in which cannabis smokers across the world unite to celebrate the landmark. This tradition is observed to celebrate and promote the legalisation of marijuana, despite been prohibited in many countries around the world.


So, when actually is 420? Where does it get its name from? How did is started? 

When is 420 in 2023?

The name 420 originates from the American English system of ordering dates. 420 falls annually on 20 April, which is been stylised in the US as 4/20. As a result of that, today, this term is still used to mark the cannabis-smoking celebrations. 420 does not just take its name after the event’s date, but also has ties to its roots in California, where it began during the 1970s. 

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Who started the 420 tradition?

420 meaning
420 founders: Steve Capper, Dave Reddix, Jeffrey Noel, Larry Schwartz and Mark Gravich

The gathering is believed to have been initiated by five Californian high school students: Steve Capper, Dave Reddix, Jeffrey Noel, Larry Schwartz and Mark Gravich. The five of them, in 1971, attended San Rafael High School, created the secret code for them alone. 

They used the code ‘420’ to inform each other of the meeting time of the day to smoke marijuana. After saying ‘420’ to themselves whilst at school, they would later meet at 4.20pm to smoke cannabis. No body actually understood what the term means. The gang became known as the ‘Waldos’ because their selected smoking spot was against a wall, near a statue of the famous chemist Louis Pasteur. 

Up until their 60s, the group founders of 420 still convene to mark the event they inadvertently founded over 50 years ago. 

What do people do on 420? 

In the UK, everyone who is a cannabis smokers travels to London’s Hyde Park to join anyone who chooses to celebrate 420. In the US, 420’s country of origin, rallies are normally held in states including Colorado, California, Michigan, and Florida.

Similar instances of people coming together to smoke cannabis often occur across across the globe. An unfortunate event broke out in the 420 event of 2022, when some police officers arrested 10 people as crowds spilled over into Oxford Street in London after thousands of revelers descended on parks across the country to protest against cannabis laws and mark ‘420’ day.

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Video clips captured dozens of officers using dogs to chase away those who had left Hyde Park, with one detective saying some were ‘involved in assaults’ with a ‘machete seen’ at the time.

One of the footage showed a German Shepherd nipping at a man’s leg, causing him to fall to the ground as screams and car horns could be heard blaring in the background.


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