Many believe the number 420 is the police code for “marijuana smoking in process” but it is, alas, a fallacy.
The concept of 420 began back in 1971 with five frequently blazed teenagers in San Rafael, California. This group, who called themselves The Waldos, often met after school at 4:20 p.m. to light up near a Louis Pasteur statue.
The sacred time became their secret code. Whenever one of the boys wanted to smoke, he would communicate with fellow Waldos by asking them to “four-twenty” with him. No one at the time understood its meaning, so parents, teachers and authority figures alike never knew of the illegal activities happening right under their noses.
Many are amazed to find out the international phenomenon began with five kids in California. The phrase and its culture gained popularity through the 1970’s legendary rock band The Grateful Dead. A few of the infamous Waldos had connections to the band through their father and interacted with the band members regularly. One Waldo was good friends with Phil Lesh, the Dead’s bassist, and they often smoked together.
The phrase stuck with Lesh and the band, and it became popular among the band’s followers, known as the Deadheads. After that, a magazine called The High Times caught on and ran with it. Their publicity of the number-turned-lifestyle made 420 international.
Several students at Leesville commemorate the smoking celebration each year. Puffs of smoke, pictures of Bob Marley and Rastafarian colors are frequently witnessed in the school and student parking lot on this day.
In recognition of the day, a few brave students turned the Senior Wall mural into a shrine of cannabis paraphernalia. The LRHS lion had red eyes, and joints were painted on the faces of the students in the background. Many students documented the work of art on their camera phones.
“It’s my favorite holiday,” said one anonymous red-eyed, sleepy LRHS student. “Well, not my favorite. Christmas is my favorite.”