We’ve all seen a 420 meme which shows someone really stoned and the phrase “It’s 420” or some thing like that.  But, what is the history behind the number?  National Cannabis Day, also known as International Weed Day is celebrated on April 20th . Why? Popular culture says it is all because of the actions of a group of teenagers back in the 1970’s.  Since then the number 420 has become the code or slang for “time to get stoned”.

The History of 4/20:

There are many reasons why Northern California holds a special place in cannabis history and from San Francisco to the little town of Weed California, thousands of people will be celebrating the “National Cannabis Day” on April 20.

Why 4/20? There are many stories ranging from Police Codes to mythic moments in rock and roll, the most credible story behind 420’s enduring status among stoners dates back to 1971. A group of students called “the Waldos” hatched a plan to meet at 4:20 p.m. by the statue of Louis Pasteur on the campus of San Rafael High. They met up, got high and went searching for a secret patch of cannabis near Point Reyes.

From Wikipedia.com In 1971, five high school students – Steve Capper, Dave Reddix, Jeffrey Noel, Larry Schwartz, and Mark Gravich  – in San Rafael, California calling themselves the Waldos because “their chosen hang-out spot was a wall outside the school” used the term in connection with a 1971 plan to search for an abandoned cannabis crop that they had learned about, based on a treasure map made by the grower. The Waldos designated the Louis Pasteur statue on the grounds of San Rafael High School as their meeting place, and 4:20 p.m. as their meeting time. The Waldos referred to this plan with the phrase “4:20 Louis”. After several failed attempts to find the crop, the group eventually shortened their phrase to simply “4:20”, which ultimately evolved into a code-word that the teens used to mean consuming cannabis.

Mike Edison says that Steven Hager of High Times was responsible for taking the story about the Waldos to “mind-boggling, cult-like extremes” and “suppressing” all other stories about the origin of the term. Hager wrote “Stoner Smart or Stoner Stupid?” in which he attributed the early spread of the phrase to Grateful Dead followers – after Reddix became a roadie for the Dead’s bassist, Phil Lesh – and called for 4:20 p.m. to be the socially accepted hour of the day to consume cannabis.

April 20 has become an international counterculture holiday, where people gather to celebrate and consume cannabis. Many such events have a political nature to them, advocating the liberalization / legalization of cannabis.

Vivian McPeak, a founder of Seattle’s Hempfest states that 4/20 is “half celebration and half call to action”. Paul Birch calls it a global movement and suggests that one can’t stop events like these. On that day many marijuana users protest in civil disobedience by gathering in public to light up at 4:20 pm.

As marijuana continues to be decriminalized and legalized around the world, Steve DeAngelo, cannabis activist and founder of California’s Harborside Health Center, notes that “even if our activist work were complete, 420 morphs from a statement of conscience to a celebration of acceptance, a celebration of victory, a celebration of our amazing connection with this plant” and that he thinks that “it will always be worthy of celebration”.

Let’s talk a little about some of the legendary 420 events which are typically celebrated in NorCal, as well as some great places to chill on April 20th.

This list is subject to change over the next few months and we will post updated versions as new information becomes available.

North American observances have been held at many locations, including:

  • “Hippie Hill” in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park near the Haight-Ashbury district
  • The University of Colorado’s Boulder campus
  • Ottawa, Ontario, at Parliament Hill and Major’s Hill Park
  • Montreal, Quebec, at Mount Royal monument
  • Edmonton, Alberta, at the Alberta Legislature Building
  • Vancouver, British Columbia, at the Vancouver Art Gallery,
  • Washington Square Park in Manhattan, the largest and most notable of a number of gatherings and demonstrations on April 20 in New York City.
  • Mile High 420 Festival in Denver’s Civic Center Park
  • The National Cannabis Festival in Washington D.C. has been running since 2016 and includes live music, educational sessions, and history, and local vendors.
  • The University of California, Santa Cruz, where the growing size of the unofficial event there caused the Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs to send an e-mail to parents in 2009 stating: “The growth in scale of this activity has become a concern for both the university and surrounding community.”

Here are eight Sonoma County places where you can “get high” while you get high – that is, each location offers a fantastic view and quiet places to enjoy a smoke, toke or dab.

  • Bullfrog Pond, Armstrong Woods: The quiet woods, lovely pond, trails and views make it a great place to relax and enjoy whatever type of natural medicine you prefer. There’s also a campground here. It’s accessible for those with limited mobility.
  • Kortum Trail, Jenner: The Kortum Trail is a beautiful easy walk/hike that runs along the coastline south of Jenner. Park at Shell Beach and pick a direction, north or south to enjoy your walk. Go north to Goat Rock and you’ll pass a large set of stones popular with climbers. Note, at this point the trail becomes quite steep. Heading south from the Shell Beach parking lot, you can walk down and enjoy the beach as well. Either direction you chose, afterwards find your way to Bodega Bay, Jenner or Guerneville for some food and refreshments!
  • Bodega Head, Bodega Bay: Drive north of Bodega Bay in order to drive West, around Bodega Bay out to Bodega Head (just follow the signs), The Grey Whales migrate north from March until June. The Head offers spectacular views and if it’s too windy, you can still enjoy them from your vehicle. It’s a fantastic place to watch the sunset.
  • Robert Ferguson Observatory, Kenwood: If you prefer to stay inland, take the beautiful drive up to Sugarloaf State Park to the Robert Ferguson Observatory. This is an incredible place to check out eclipses and comets, but it’s an interesting place to visit any time of day. Those who enjoy walking and hiking should take the Planetwalk, a scaled down representation of the planets designed to fit within the confines of the park. There are two options: a 2-mile loop with 250ft elevation gain or the full 6.3 miles with 1100ft in elevation. Those who prefer neither can just chill on the observatory deck after checking out the telescopes, photos and retail center inside during open hours.
  • The Villa Restaurant, Santa Rosa: If outdoor activities aren’t for you, The Villa in Santa Rosa is one of the few restaurants that offers a decent view. It’s a totally old school local restaurant that serves early bird dinner from 4pm-6pm and happy hour drink and food specials in the bar from 3pm-7:30pm. The Happy Hour menu is loaded with stoner faves.
  • Paradise Ridge Winery, Santa Rosa: This winery offers amazing views of the Russian River Valley and a gorgeous property adorned with sculpture and art. Head into the tasting room for tasting if you enjoy wine, or simply enjoy the deck and grounds for a while. Note: the winery was burned to the ground during the October 2017 firestorm. Check their website to see what the status is on their re-building effort.
  • Sea Ranch Chapel, Gualala: Fancy a drive up the coast? Head north to Gualala and visit the Sea Ranch Chapel. It’s open 365 days a year to the public between sunrise and sunset. The grounds are lovingly landscaped with benches and nooks in which to quietly contemplate nature. The tiny chapel is a beautiful artwork to behold with handcrafted details like carved redwood benches and magnificent stained glass windows.
  • Francis Ford Coppola Winery, Geyserville: The Francis Ford Coppola Winery is a definite crowd pleaser and a must for mixed groups. Wine lovers can wine taste, movie buffs can drool over the memorabilia from films such as Apocalypse Now, Dracula and The Godfather, active types can play free bocce in the garden while sun worshippers can lounge by the pool. Have lunch at the restaurant, inside or out on the deck to enjoy the view or for lighter fare, take advantage of the Pool Café and nosh poolside. Tasting rooms are open 11am-6pm daily; Rustic restaurant is open from 11am-9pm daily

Come join Happy Travelers Tours on Saturday April 20, 2019 as we celebrate both National Cannabis Day and the Opening Day of the 2019 Cannabis Tour season!

  • We have Special Events and Activities planned for 4/20 so book your Wine-and-Weed Tour today!