What is 4/20?


4/20… 420…April 20th…4:20…Four-Twenty. It doesn’t matter how you say it, 4/20 is the day that brings all cannabis lovers together. It is that one day in the year that celebrates weed worldwide where, at around 4:20 pm, parties and festivities start and end well into the night.

Whether you’ve been using cannabis for years, or only just began exploring the wonderful world of weed, you likely already know that 4:20 is the time of day to spark up. PM. Unless you want to wake up early, you do you, but I can tell you from experience you’ll have to take a nap later that day.

But what is 4/20, really? What is the real meaning of 4/20 and its origin? More importantly, what is its purpose in these modern times?

The Origins of 4/20

There are many theories behind the origins of 4/20 – from a simple gathering that started with a group of teenagers to the darker theory that involves Adolf Hitler’s birthday. That said, I refuse to believe something as beautiful as celebrating cannabis can be associated with a monster like that. Whatever the significance, the real ‘when, where and why’ of 4/20 remains a point of debate to this day.

This statue on campus is where the Waldos would meet to smoke cannabis.

The Waldos

The most popular (and most credible) origin of 4/20 is that, in 1971, a group of students, known as ‘The Waldos’ from San Rafael High School in California would meet each day to smoke weed at 4:20 pm on campus. Why they chose this particular time is quite simple, as the story goes. By 4:20 pm, all activities in the school campus would have ended and they had the grounds to themselves. The students said 4:20 to each other and they would know where to meet and at what time to smoke weed. The Waldo’s signified a lot of what cannabis culture became about. They did not adhere to the social norms expected of them, saying while the rest of the school was watching football on Friday nights, they were under the bleachers “smoking a doobie”. 


The Grateful Dead

One of the students had the chance to fulfill the dream of many teenagers at that time and got hired as a roadie for the Grateful Dead. During his time with them, the code was adopted and became popular within the Dead circle. What really catapulted 4/20 into the mainstream was when the code was used in a flyer created by the Deadheads (fans of the Grateful Dead). On the flyer, they invited people to smoke weed on April 20 at 4:20 pm.

All that remains of the original Grateful Dead flyer urging people to smoke weed at 4:20.


Steve Bloom, a High Times Magazine reporter, further made the code popular after receiving a copy of the flyer and printing it. The code then became famous in the United States and spread worldwide. The date and time April 20 at 4:20 pm became synonymous with smoking weed.

The Police (not the band, unfortunately) 

Another interesting but unfounded theory on the history of 4/20 is that the number is also the penal code for cannabis in some jurisdictions. Some also say that it is a radio code used by the police for “marijuana smoking in progress.”, however, there’s little evidence that supports these theories.

In Literature

Yet another meaning of 4/20 claims the code came from a book called “In the Walls of Eryx,” written by H.P. Lovecraft and Kenneth J. Sterling. In the story, the narrator describes a sort of plant that causes mirages and hallucinations at 4:20 pm. The plant, which sounds like a suspicious amount like weed, gets the narrator stoned.

In Music

Other theories of 4/20 include the number of active compounds in cannabis (which is 420), the numbers in Bob Dylan’s Rainy Day Women #12 and #35 multiplied by each other, and the deaths of popular performers Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, as well as Janis Joplin. However, this origin can be quickly disproved since none of them actually died on April 20th.


Bob Dylan partakes in the devil’s lettuce.

What is 4/20 in Modern Celebrations around the World?

Today, 4/20 marks a day of cannabis-oriented festivals and celebrations around the world. This formerly counterculture event celebrates one of the least-understood plants, cannabis. No more secret codes to let people know it’s time to smoke pot, but an open event full of activities, music, dancing, and parties. Some of these events are sponsored by top brands in the cannabis industry, giving away gift bags filled with cannabis goodies. You can even find a heavy police presence at many of these festivals, however, you won’t find them arresting users, but rather directing traffic and keeping people from accidentally walking into cars.

Many, if not most, of these gatherings, are political in nature; where people protest the current classification of cannabis. They demand not only for cannabis’ declassification but its legalization as well.

4/20 events are popular in the United States, Canada, and London. Countries like New Zealand, Slovenia, Austria, Peru, as well as Australia also hold their own 4/20 rallies. This holiday has also reached Italy, Denmark, as well as Iceland. South Africa has also had its share of 4/20 gatherings.

With more countries legalizing the use of medical cannabis, we can expect more of these 4/20 festivals. They will be bigger and better than ever as people celebrate cannabis and advocate for its legalization in more countries.

As Canada has already legalized cannabis, the intention of many of the protests has shifted to policy reform, as a large portion of cannabis users feel the approach the federal government has taken is all wrong. 

 4/20 will continue to be a worldwide event that draws pro-cannabis advocates and people from all walks of life.

Top Two 4/20 Celebrations

The craziest, biggest, and arguably one of the best 4/20 festivals take place in Denver, Colorado. Their 4/20 festival is attended by some of the biggest names in the music industry. It’s a day filled with entertainment and music performed by local and international performers.

Cannabis vendors and top cannabis brands are also present, giving away freebies and gift bags. Food trucks and beer gardens are also available. Denver’s Mile High 420 Festival, because it’s free, typically attracts more than 50,000 people, making it the biggest 4/20 festival across the globe.


Revelers celebrate 4/20 in Denver.

Of note, public consumption of cannabis during this event is prohibited under Colorado State Law but that does not stop most people from partaking in some delicious jazz cabbage.

Washington’s National Cannabis Festival is a week-long event that celebrates weed. Similar to Denver, it’s a gathering filled with music, food, and parties. This 4/20 event also has educational seminars that talk about cannabis’ benefits. Similar to Denver, public consumption of cannabis is also prohibited (wink wink). Unlike Denver’s though, you have to purchase a ticket to be able to enter the festival grounds. You also have to present a valid government-issued ID since only those 21+ can attend the event.


Vendors sell their good’s to attendees of the National Cannabis Festival in Washington, DC.

Final Thoughts

4/20… 420…April 20…4:20…Four-Twenty. Whatever its real history may be, it has done a good job of bringing people together, raising awareness, and advocating for cannabis’ legalization.

While all evidence suggests term was started by a small group of Californian students, 4/20 is no longer just a code to smoke weed. It’s a global phenomenon that calls for the legalization of cannabis both recreationally and medically.

Some of Our Favourite Products to Celebrate 4:20 with!



Hybrid –  Medibud
A classic in the Netherlands has finally made its way to Canadal! One of our go-to Hybrid’s, Medibud is perfect for social occasions.



Moonrock – Pre Rolls
Treat yourself with a Moonrock Pre Roll. Each joint is dipped in cannabis oil and rolled in kief making this something worth celebrating on its own!




Mota – Cotton Candy (180mg THC)
Who doesn’t love cotton candy? Well, now you can celebrate with your favourite childhood treat, this time packed with THC!



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