It’s that time of year. For those in the know, April 20th is more than just another day, it’s an annual celebration for a subculture of weed lovers who recognize it as a day of marijuana appreciation. 

With a plethora of local dispensaries, marijuana, weed, kush, green — whatever name you use for it — will be going up in smoke all around the Pacific Northwest on April 20. But what’s the significance of the number 420, what are some of the myths and fun facts about it, and how did it take on this higher meaning? 

  1. The number originally stood for a time, not a date. Three high school students from California, Dave Reddix, Mark Gravitch, and Steve Capper, used to meet up after school at 4:20 p.m. to blow off some steam by blowing up some smoke. The three would then venture out toward the nearby Point Reyes Coast Guard Station and search for their very own White Whale: a fabled lost crop of marijuana growing wild near the station. These meet-ups became tradition, and the time soon took on a secret meaning. 

  2. The group of teens was called “The Waldos,” not because they were constantly lost or walked around in red and white striped shirts, but because they chose to hang out by a wall at their high school. 

  3. The number was picked up and popularized by The Grateful Dead. Reddix’s older brother was close with Phil Lesh, the bassist for The Grateful Dead, and when Lesh found out about the meaning behind the number, he couldn’t help but bring it to his bandmates, groupies and friends. Soon, Dead Heads were Waldos too.

  4. Contrary to what some believe, police officers do not use “Code 420” to call in marijuana violations, nor is it the legal code for a marijuana violation in California.

  5. Some have been convinced 420 referred to the number of chemical compounds in marijuana, but there are actually close to 500.

  6. The 420th mile marker on the Colorado interstate has been stolen so many times by marijuana-enthusiasts seeking some new wall decor and a thrill that it has been renamed mile marker “419.99” to deter future thieves. 

  7.  Sharp-eyed cinephiles have noticed a cheeky homage to the time in the work of legendary filmmaker Quentin Tarantino. In his acclaimed movie “Pulp Fiction,” with John Travolta, Uma Thurman, and Samuel L. Jackson, almost all of the clocks are set to 4:20, regardless of the actual time of day.