Hashtag Cannabis’ Fremont store is bathed in the glow of the sunrise. Staff from this location and the Hashtag Redmond store invite you to join in the 4/20 celebrations April 20 at the Stone Way Cafe in Seattle. Photo by Jax Keating

Hashtag Cannabis’ Fremont store is bathed in the glow of the sunrise. Staff from this location and the Hashtag Redmond store invite you to join in the 4/20 celebrations April 20 at the Stone Way Cafe in Seattle. Photo by Jax Keating

Finding 4/20: A historical primer from the 1970s to today

Seattle cannabis retailer hosts its annual celebration of this counterculture holiday April 20

It’s 2019 and the cat is out of the bag: 420 is the code-word for cannabis consumption and a rally flag for marijuana legalization throughout the world.

But how did a number as peculiar as 420 become associated with marijuana to begin with? Depending on who you ask, you’ll get a wide variety of answers.

Regardless of who coined the term, the team from Seattle Hashtag is celebrating on Saturday, April 20 with their fourth annual 4/20 party, happening at the Stone Way Cafe. The event features live music, a costume contest and who knows what else! While you’re there, check out the savings on your favorite cannabis products from such vendors as Bondi Farms, Pearl Extracts, Empire, Sky High Gardens, Lazy Bee Gardens and more.

References vary to 420’s history

1970s – In 1971, five California high schoolers who called themselves The Waldos were hunting for some abandoned cannabis plants. They met to plot their search at a designated spot, the Louis Pasteur statue at San Rafael High School.

The time they chose to meet? You could probably guess: 4:20 p.m. They referred to this plan as “4:20 Louis” and after several failed attempts to find the crop, the phrase was shortened to 4:20, which they ultimately used as a code-word for cannabis use.

1980s – Several of The Waldos had connections to the Grateful Dead: one member’s father managed the band’s real estate; another Waldo’s brother was friends with Dead bassist Phil Lesh and managed a Dead sideband. On tour, cannabis consumption was common. But due to its illegal nature, codewords were used to avoid drawing unnecessary attention. When joints were passed backstage, the phrase “Hey, 420!” was often heard. The term spread with the band as they toured the country.

But how did 420 gain global recognition as the ultimate cannabis code-word?

1990s – In December 1990, High Times reporter Steven Bloom was wandering through a gathering of hippies before a Grateful Dead concert in Oakland. He was handed a yellow flyer, which read: “We are going to meet at 4:20 on 4/20 for 420-ing in Marin County at the Bolinas Ridge sunset spot on Mt. Tamalpais.” Until that time, Bloom had never heard the term “420” or “420-ing” before, but wrote about it in the May 1991 issue.

From there the term 420 took off and became the international sensation it is today.

So what’s the significance today?

Since Bloom’s High Times article hit the magazine racks, April 20 has become an international counterculture holiday. People around the world gather to celebrate and consume cannabis.

In 2017, journalist Phoebe Judge investigated the term’s origins further, after 420 was added to the Oxford English Dictionary.

Related story: The Benefits of CBD for Older Adults

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Mark your calendar and stop by Hashtag’s Fremont or Redmond locations to stock up for this year’s 4/20! You can also follow them on Instagram. and on Twitter @seattlehashtag.


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