Not unlike the fragrant smoke cascading from Willie Nelson's tour bus, myths about the origins of "4/20" (or "4:20") swirl and obscure the true origins of the official stoners' holiday.
According to one erroneous explanation, "420" was the police code for "marijuana smoking in progress." Other stories suggest it correlated with a daily after-school smoking session, which would commence at 4:20 p.m.
That last one is at least partially correct. But the true origin of the pot smoker's holiday is actually much more interesting. And if you choose to indulge this Easter, or on any day, make sure you understand the law (we'll get to that in a bit).
A Brief History of 4/20
It all started with five high school buddies in San Rafael, California, in 1971, who began meeting after practice (they all played various sports) at 4:20 p.m. to search for a hidden marijuana patch. They never did find the illicit garden, but continued meeting at 4:20 to toke up. If that's all there was to it, then it probably never would have become an international code for marijuana.
It just so happens that the Grateful Dead had moved to San Rafael, just blocks away from their high school, during that period. The father of one of the friends handled real estate for the iconic band, while the brother of another 420-er was close friends with Dead bassist Phil Lesh. Naturally, word about the 4:20 toke session got around and a meme was born.
A few decades later, April 20 has become quite the celebration of all things cannabis.
Knowing When to Drop the Joint: Top 10 Marijuana Law Resources
If you enjoy cannabis, or rely on it for chronic pain or other medical issues, we certainly won't judge. But it pays to know the law and have the right resources at your (potentially sticky) fingertips.
Here are FindLaw's Top 10 resources on marijuana law, including a link to our lawyer directory in case of any run-ins with law enforcement:
- Medical Marijuana: An Overview (Learn About the Law)
- Medical Marijuana Laws by State (Learn About the Law)
- Drug Manufacturing and Cultivation (Learn About the Law)
- Drug Possession Overview (Learn About the Law)
- Driving Under the Influence of Drugs (Learn About the Law)
- Colo., Wash. Pot Regulations Compared (Law and Daily Life)
- Colo. Pot Law Can Apply Retroactively: Court (Blotter)
- Colo.'s Marijuana DUI Law Opens Door to Defense (Blotter)
- Is It Legal to Fly With Medical Marijuana? (Law and Daily Life)
- Browse Drug Crime Lawyers by Location (FindLaw's Lawyer Directory -- search by city, county, metro, or state)
So whether you're hunting for Easter eggs or partaking in 4/20 (or both) this Sunday, make sure a legal misstep doesn't kill your buzz.