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By Pepper Sloan
“It’s 419. Got a minute?” That’s an oldie but a goodie as the old folks say, and with the ever anticipated 4/20 holiday right around the corner the 420 jokes are in endless supply. Deemed by many to be the cannabis communities’ most coveted season, April 20th has been celebrated by potheads young and old seemingly since the dawn of time.
For most of us, the phrase and holiday are as much a part of cannabis culture as Phish and Snoop. But has the verbiage really been around that long? And where was the first 420 celebration? Many of us have pondered these questions while sharing a weekend bong swat with a friend, or at the very least heard the annoying guy at a party telling his version of the origin of 420. Personally, I’ve heard everything from, “4:20 is the time the Declaration of Independence was signed,” to “It’s the police code for weed, man.” Sorry, Stoner Guy. Neither of those myths are true. In fact, the true origin of 420 is far more light-hearted than the ominous tales most of us are familiar with.
For those of us who’ve had the pleasure of calling California home, it should come as no surprise that the iconic numeric configuration actually stemmed from a group of kids from San Rafael High School in 1971. Calling themselves The Waldos, the friends began meeting up after school to smoke pot near a wall adjacent to a statue of Louis Pasteur. Eventually the phrase, “4:20 Louis” was adopted as a reminder to each other to meet up at their secret spot for a little afternoon refreshment. After being given a hand drawn map to a secret pot stash near San Francisco, the phrase was shortened to simply “420,” as their routine now included a treasure quest. Although they never found the secret stash, their 4:20 p.m. smoke sessions continued. It didn’t take long for the phrase to catch on and it eventually landed in the ears of the founding members of the The Grateful Dead, who later used the term on a concert flyer.
With a history steeped in friendship and good vibes, it should come as no surprise that this simple phrase would electrify into the holiday celebrated by millions across not only the United States but around the world.
Related article: 21 Top Marijuana Festivals and Events in The World
With that said, cannabis enthusiasts in the U.S. won’t be hard pressed to find an epic celebration this 4/20. Cities all across the nation have put together some of the greatest cannabis infused events imaginable and here are just a few:
Although legislation surrounding cannabis has moved at a snail’s pace in the Peach State, supporters of herb aren’t silencing their voices on this prestigious day. Lasting all weekend, the brew masters at SweetWater have put together one impressive party taking place in Atlanta’s famous Centennial Olympic Park. For a small fee, grab yourself a wristband and enjoy the festivities all weekend long. With a stellar musical lineup and tons of fabulous vendors, even a non-smoker would find themselves easily swept up in the good vibes. All ages are welcome at this open air event and if you’re feeling frisky there’s even a SweetWater 420 5k race. Get all the deets here.
If the name of this festival isn’t enough to peak your interest, I’ll wager to say you’re not considered “the fun one” of your group. Celebrating its fifth year, Abra Ca Dabs is making its mark on the 4/20 radar. Focused on education, this jam packed fest is promoting worldwide cannabis legalization. For those of us with friends and family who aren’t too familiar with cannabis culture or the plant’s medicinal properties, this may be a great place to make the introduction. This three day festival features live glass blowing, guest speakers and some of the best music around. Are you a cannabis artisan? Show off your talent by entering a few of the contests offered, such as best infused edible and best cannabis flower. For more information, check the festival Everfest page here.
For those of us politically active in the cannabis movement, there’s no better way to celebrate our freedom that to host a cannabis festival right in the middle of nation’s capital. With all that has been going on lately within the Medical and Recreational Marijuana legalization processes, there’s no better time to show your support. Touting a modest three year run, this festival is still in its infancy. Young or not, these organizers know how to do it right. With heavy hitting sponsors like Lyft, WeedMaps, and even the ever famous hippie loving brand, Dr. Bronner’s, you’ll be sure to pick up a few freebies on your way over to see Cypress Hill. Wait. What? Cypress Hill?! Yes, you read correctly. The National Cannabis Festival is chock full of stoner staples, and you can get your tickets by visiting their website here.
The Genesee Compassion Club has been serving the Michigan medical market for over ten years. This non-profit organization has been instrumental in assisting patients and caregivers in their quest for gentle healing. Their 4/20 celebration is nearly as legendary in their home state as they are. This fest is a steal at only $20 and features live music, caricature artists and lots of food for herbal enthusiasts to sample. Don’t forget to enter the G3C’s famous ping-pong tournament and take on Michigan’s top stoners for a chance to win some great prizes! Get your spot secured here.
No list of events taking place on April 20th would be complete without a nod to the Godfather of them all. This festival, which sees over ten thousand visitors a year takes place in San Francisco’s Sharon Meadows. With an admission fee of free, the gathering grows exponentially each year as word of its existence has spread far and wide. Festival goers are highly encouraged to keep the city clean and be respectful of one another. With such a massive crowd, it can be easy to get swept up in the madness. A literal pilgrimage for some cannabis users, 420 Hippie Hill is a festival on many potheads’ bucket list. Here you can find more information and the history of Hippie Hill.
Pepper Sloan is a writer, cannabis activist, and self described strain connoisseur. Her passion for the holistic science of cannabis began with the diagnosis of a mysterious, unnamed genetic syndrome. In her former life, Pepper was a professional adult entertainer and today advocates for women’s empowerment. Currently enrolled in the Addiction Studies program at the University of South Dakota, she plans to continue her education in an effort to work with survivors of sexual trauma. Pepper is an avid marathon enthusiast, a loving mother, and the proud wife of a disabled combat veteran. Follow Pepper on Instagram or/and Twitter
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