What does 4/20 mean and why is it celebrated?

THERE is much lore behind the unofficial holiday celebrated on April 20th of each year.

Here is everything we know about 4/20 and its history.

What does 4/20 mean?

When it comes to 4/20, the exact origin is a bit questionable.

During the 1970s, a group of students at San Rafael High School in California referred to themselves as the Waldos, as they often sat on a wall outside of their school, per the LA Times.

The group began taking trips together, which they labeled "safaris."

One of their official rules was that the members must be stoned – as in high on marijuana.

The Waldos reportedly began meeting at 4.20pm to smoke, and the number became a code word for them to refer to the act of smoking weed.

When the term "420" began spreading through mutual friends and acquaintances, it found footing in the Grateful Dead community.

The Grateful Dead is a jam band known for its large fanbase, which often follows the group from state to state whenever they tour.

After 420 became a popularized phrase, the origin story differed among different groups of people – some say it is the time Jerry Garcia died.

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In contrast, others say it is in reference to the police code for marijuana.

It is now common practice for those who smoke weed to celebrate annually on April 20th, or 4/20.

Why is it celebrated?

According to one of the original members of the Waldos, Steve Capper, 4/20 celebrations were integral in the legalization efforts of marijuana.

"[The celebrations] were kind of the ground zero of getting weed legalized," he told the LA Times.

"It was the beginning of [marijuana] activism and fighting back."

Capper continued: "The media started reporting on these gatherings and suddenly, April 20th became kind of a forum in the media for discussing drug suppression and marijuana legalization."

One of the original bills for marijuana legalization in California is SB-420.

Filed in 2003, SB-420 states, "any physician [is prohibited] from being punished, or denied any right or privilege, for having recommended marijuana to a patient for medical purposes."

While medical marijuana has been legal in California since 1996, the state did not legalize recreational use of the drug until November of 2016.

Where is marijuana legal?

Medical marijuana is the use of cannabis recommended by a doctor to help treat a medical condition.

In America, medical marijuana is legal in every state except Alabama, Idaho, Nebraska, North and South Carolina, Tennessee, and Wyoming.

Neither medical nor recreational marijuana is yet legal on a federal level in the United States.

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States that have legalized the recreational use of weed include Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington. 

Recreational marijuana is also legal in Washington DC.

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