The History of 4/20: Unpacking the Origins of Cannabis Culture

Zack Garhart
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The History of 4/20: Unpacking the Origins of Cannabis Culture

Ah, April 20th, a day that sparks joy in the hearts of cannabis enthusiasts worldwide. But how did this seemingly arbitrary date become synonymous with the celebration of all things green and leafy? Let’s take a trip down the hazy roads of history to uncover the roots of 4/20 and the vibrant cannabis culture surrounding it.

The Origins

The story of 4/20 dates back to the early 1970s, when a group of high school students from San Rafael, California, known as the “Waldos,” coined the term. Legend has it that these rebellious teens would meet at 4:20 p.m. after school to embark on a treasure hunt for a hidden cannabis crop. Though the treasure may have remained elusive, the code “420” stuck as a euphemism for cannabis consumption.

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California Dreamin’

Now, let’s talk about the Golden State. California has long been at the forefront of cannabis culture and legalization efforts. From the hippie havens of Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco to the laid-back vibes of Venice Beach in Los Angeles, the state has served as a hotbed for cannabis activism and innovation. Our ITH locations in both San Francisco and Los Angeles are great destinations to visit these historic zones.

In 1996, California made history by becoming the first state in the U.S. to legalize medical marijuana with the passage of Proposition 215, also known as the Compassionate Use Act. This massive decision paved the way for the eventual legalization of recreational cannabis in 2016 through Proposition 64, allowing adults 21 and older to possess and cultivate marijuana for personal use.

Today, California boasts a thriving cannabis industry, with dispensaries dotting the landscape from Crescent City to Chula Vista. We have a few favorites in Santa Barbara and San Francisco. Whether you’re seeking potent strains, artisanal edibles, or CBD-infused wellness products, the Golden State has it all.

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The Significance of 4/20

So, why the 20th of April? Some theories suggest that it’s a reference to the police radio code for cannabis possession, while others point to the numerical significance of April 20th (4/20) itself. Regardless of its exact origins, 4/20 has evolved into a global phenomenon, uniting cannabis enthusiasts in a day of celebration, activism, and camaraderie.

From massive smoke-outs in public parks to intimate gatherings among friends, 4/20 offers a moment to reflect on the cultural, medicinal, and recreational significance of cannabis. It’s a day to honor the plant’s rich history, advocate for legalization and social justice reform, and, of course, partake in a little herbal indulgence.

Whether you’re lighting up a joint, vaping your favorite strain, or simply spreading awareness, let’s celebrate responsibly and continue pushing for a brighter, greener future.

Interested in learning more about the history of 4/20? Watch this video!

For your next stay at one of our ITH Hostels, make sure to join our Traveler’s Club! It’s a great way to save money on all future bookings, and it’s free to sign up.

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