“420” and the Grateful Dead

Summary and opinion by Ronald Pires.

Utter the phrase “420” and anyone who knows anything about marijuana can simply relate to your cannabis reference. The use of the term 420 was first referred back in the early 1970’s. A group of San Rafael California high school students who referred themselves as the “Waldo’s” coined the phrase in lieu of marijuana. Original Waldo Mark Gravitch’s father managed real estate for the Grateful Dead whose property were minutes from the Waldo’s hangout. The Waldo’s were often found outside of the band’s hills home listening to them practice and blazing. Another original member Dave Reddix’s brother managed a cover band of the Grateful Dead and was friends with the bands bassist Phil Lesh.

Dave Reddix a Greatful Dead roadie was quoted as saying “The Band had this rehearsal hall on Front Street, San Rafael, California, and they used to practice there. So we used to hang out and listen to them play music and get high while they’re practicing for gigs. But I think it’s possible my brother Patrick might have spread it (420) through Phil Leash. And me, too, because I hanging out with Leash and his band when they were doing a summer tour my brother was managing.” 

The Magazine High Times published the term 420 in the early 90’s and the lingo for weed grew to a larger audience. From the Waldo’s to the Grateful Dead it’s 4:20 somewhere!

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