April 20th, 4/20, is the day marijuana gets celebrated. Not that marijuana aficionados need a reason to live that weed life, but on one particular day of the year, pot smokers around the world can celebrate the goodness of this healing plant. Cannabis day is especially celebrated in places that have legalized marijuana for recreational purposes, but in the last couple of years, the festivities have been taking place on an international level.
Read on to find out why 4/20 is the day and where to go that weekend.
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How 4/20 Became Weed Day
Several myths surround the origin of 4/20, or cannabis day, that have been debunked—turns out Dylan’s song “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35” as well as the LA police using code 420 to warn “marijuana smoking in progress” stories are not behind the origin of weed day. But there is one story that has been validated and is known as “the legend of the Waldos.” The Waldos’ story seems to be the most believable one, and it goes like this…
Back in 1971, a group of high school students who attended San Rafael High School in Marin County, California would meet at 4:20 p.m. with one cause: to have some marijuana fun. The group chose 4:20 p.m. because at that time, the school had already been emptied, as most extracurricular activities were over.
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Dave Reddix, Steve Capper, Larry Schwartz, Jeffrey Noel, and Mark Gravich used the code “420 Louis,” later shortened to just 420, to joke about their adventures while under the influence: they secretly went looking for a hidden weed field. Since they were teenagers smoking pot, the group of five wanted to cover up their shenanigans when speaking in front of others. So, they used the code “420 Louis.” The name stands for the time they were meeting at each day in front of the school statue of Louis Pasteur, a well-known chemist who discovered pasteurization.
Reddix, one of the members of the group, told TIME Magazine, “We got tired of the Friday-night football scene with all of the jocks. We were the guys sitting under the stands smoking a doobie, wondering what we were doing there.” 
The story continues with the band Grateful Dead popularizing the term, as Reddix and the rest of its weed crew had connections to the band. In 1990, a group of fans handed out flyers inviting people to smoke pot on April 20 at 4:20 p.m. A former reporter for High Times magazine, Bloom, picked up the coolness of the flyer, so the magazine printed it out and continued to use 4/20 in its publications. And that’s how this number became the mainstream code for weed.
Credit: Behind The Meme
In 1998, High Times Magazine acknowledged the “Waldos” as the creative minds behind 420. Bloom credited the people behind the flyer as well. Referring to the Waldos, he wrote in a blog post, “They wanted people all over the world to get together on one day each year and collectively smoke pot at the same time. They birthed the idea of a stoner holiday, which April 20 has become.” The Waldos have also validated their story on their blog.  
Where to Celebrate 4/20
Marijuana legalization and cannabis culture have made 4/20 celebrations more universal, but it also brought the corporate involvement that comes along when something goes mainstream. The cannabis events are getting bigger and are sponsored by corporate partners. Companies are leveraging 4/20 as an opportunity to promote their products and the growing industry to tens of thousands of people. Notable musicians like Snoop Dogg, Wiz Khalifa, and 2 Chainz have been doing big concerts, which is one of the main signs of 4/20 becoming a commercial holiday. While some people don’t seem to mind, the original stoners understand that once weed day has gone mainstream, cannabis celebrations will never be the same.
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4/20 Major Events
The 3rd Annual 420 Bud Drop at Hippie Hill 2019
This is the oldest and largest cannabis day celebration in the world. Hippie Hill in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park has been the gathering spot for annual cannabis day for more than 50 years, with nearly a thousand attendees in the past year only. If you are looking for some of the biggest events for cannabis day, consider Hippie Hill. 
High Times Cannabis Cup Central Valley
If you are looking for a great party, check out the High Times Cannabis Cup in Sacramento, CA. The event promises hip-hop fun with performers such as Rae Sremmurd and Soulja Boy, among others. This event is one of the major ones where vendors can show off marijuana products to the attendees. To attend the event, you can purchase tickets online at a cheaper price or get them at the door. You must be 21+ to attend the event and have a valid ID, regardless of the state of residence. 
Mile High 420 Festival
The countdown has begun! The annual free cannabis event in Denver, Colorado—the first state to legalize recreational cannabis—where stoners will be entertained by T.I. and Jermaine Dupri, opens at 10 a.m. on weed day. This cannabis festival is 100% free and is open to all ages, but it’s recommended for the attendees to be ages 18+ since the festival is of an adult nature. 
4th Annual National Cannabis Festival
The Annual National Cannabis Festival is another 21+ cannabis festival taking place in Washington, D.C. The festival was developed from an idea by a group of cannabis enthusiasts in 2015. Four years later, you can have a great weed day festival experience with some weed as well as Ludacris and other performers.
If paid events are not your cup of tea, there must be several free events taking place, usually hosted at local parks. There are options for gender-specific celebrations, such as the Flower Power Event in Portland for women. The event offers a lot of fun, including a movie premiere and other relaxing activities.
With these festivities on cannabis day, a group of people who love cannabis is advocating loudly for its benefits and raising awareness about the needed legalization of cannabis. If you are not able to travel or dislike crowded places, don’t let that hold you back. Nothing better than an at-home celebration with your partner or a group of friends. And of course, weed.