It’s no secret that the 420 code is synonymous with cannabis culture. But even the most veteran consumers might not be aware of where the infamous 420 holiday comes from. With April 20th quickly approaching, there’s no better time to brush up on what you know about our favorite plant’s past!

So keep reading as we uncover the real origin of 420, answer the question ‘what is 420 slang for’, and more with our ultimate guide to the elevated holiday.

What Does 420 Have to Do With Weed?

The answer to the question, ‘what does 420 have to do with weed’ is simpler than you think. In fact, it all starts with a smoker circle of teenage stoner buds, similar to those you may have today.

Way back in 1971, a group of high school kids from San Rafael, California would use the slang ‘420 Louis’ as a code to meet at the Louis Pasteur statue at 4:20 to get high. So, how did the 420 code spread from one small group of kids who called themselves the Waldos to a nationwide secret calling?

One of the original Waldos was the younger brother of the Grateful Dead’s bassist, Phil Lesh. Those close to the group say the Waldos would often hang out (and get high!) with the Grateful Dead while they were rehearsing in San Rafael, too.

Obviously, as the Grateful Dead became more and more popular, they toured and hit up all the hippest, hippie, cannabis-loving concerts, festivals, and events. Throughout these journeys, the 420 code took off with stoners far and wide.



History of 420 

Of course, you might have heard some rumors about whether or not this is the real origin of 420 or not. We have none other than High Times Magazine to thank for the confusion. Around 1990, High Times magazine senior editor Steve Bloom attended a Grateful Dead concert and came across a flier with the legendary tale of 420.

Disagreeing with the 420 origins, Bloom went on to write an article that claimed 420 was the California police code for consuming weed, instead. Of course, the Waldos weren’t having that and later called the editor to set the story straight.


Other 420 origin rumors include –

●  For whatever reason, someone (who had to be way stoned!) began the rumor that Bob Dylan had something to do with the 420 definition. The person concluded that the song, “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35” was the real origin of 420, since 12 times 35 = 420. Unfortunately for the rumor-starting stoner this song was released in 1996, far after the Waldos and the Grateful Dead had already coined the term.

●  One other common theory is citing the fact that the cannabis plant has over 400 compounds that produce its beloved effects. As cool as that may seem, in actuality, research has found the number of compounds is far over 420 and is somewhere in the 500 range now.

●  Others think the 420 code comes from the California Senate bill that’s numbered 420 and supports the state’s medical-marijuana program. On the flip side, the Senate specifically chose bill number 420 as a nod to the history of 420



Now that you know the real origin of 420, feel free to fact-check anyone who says anything different than the holiday’s local Cali roots, helped by none other than the Grateful Dead.



The Modern 420 Definition

Today, 4/20 or April 20th, serves as the official 420 holiday where stoners come together coast-to-coast to celebrate their love of weed. Many licensed dispensaries, non-profits, and other cannabis brands often host events, concerts, parties, or gatherings on the day of, or around the same time to facilitate the festivities.

It’s also the best time to snag holiday promotions at dispos which tend to offer a plethora of pre-420 sales as a chance for stoners to stock up for the holiday.

More introverted stoners might find ways to celebrate at home, like baking up a batch of their own THC-infused treats, getting extra baked for the day, or hosting their fav puff, puff, pass pals for the 4:20 PM on 4/20 sesh with an infused dinner or snacks to follow.

You’ll also see more ‘420 friendly’ references in today’s day and age. That lets legal consumers know their high habits are welcome, accepted, and even encouraged.

Embarc on New 420 Holiday Traditions

As cannabis stigmas diminish, there’s no reason not to celebrate the 420 holiday loud and proud this 2022. Or at least, light up with the loudest flower, concentrates, vape carts, and ganja goods. Embarc on new 420 holiday traditions by shopping the best selection of premium cannabis products, in NorCal.

Shop online, find a location near you or make plans to join Bertha and Hand-Picked Garcia at our Fairfield location on 4/19 to connect with Embarc and your local cannabis community, in person!

Happy 420 from the Embarc family to yours.