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Where does 420 come from? He pauses and considers, hands on his side. “I do not understand the real origin. I know myths and rumors,” he says. “I’m really confused about the first time I heard it. It was like a police code for smoking in progress or something. What’s the actual story?”

Based on who you ask, or their state of inebriation, you will find as much types of answers as strains of medical bud in California. It’s the amount of active chemicals in It’s teatime in Holland. It offers something connected with Hitler’s birthday. It’s those numbers because Bob Dylan song multiplied.

The foundation in the term 420, celebrated all over the world by pot smokers every April 20, has always been obscured by the clouded memories from the people that caused it to be a phenomenon.

It absolutely was Christmas week in Oakland, 1990. Steven Bloom was wandering through The Lot – that timeless gathering of hippies that springs up in the parking area before every Grateful Dead concert – each time a Deadhead handed him a yellow flyer. “We are going to meet at 4:20 on 4/20 for 420-ing in Marin County in the Bolinas Ridge sunset spot on Mt. Tamalpais,” reads your message, which Bloom dug up and forwarded to the Huffington Post. Bloom, then this reporter for top Times magazine and now the publisher of and co-author of Pot Culture, had never been aware of “420-ing” before.

The flyer came complete with a 420 back story: “420 started somewhere in San Rafael, California inside the late ’70s. It started as the police code for Marijuana Smoking in Progress. After local heads heard of the police call, they started making use of the expression 420 when talking about herb – Let’s Go 420, dude!”

Bloom reported his discover in the May 1991 issue of High Times, that the magazine present in its archives and given to the Huffington Post. The story, though, was just partially right. It had nothing to do with a police code — although the San Rafael part was dead on. Indeed, a group of five San Rafael High School friends called the Waldos – by virtue with their chosen hang-out spot, a wall outside the school – coined the term in 1971. The Huffington Post spoke with Waldo Steve, Waldo Dave and Dave’s older brother, Patrick, and confirmed their full names and identities, that they motivated to keep secret for (Pot is still, all things considered, illegal.)

The Waldos never envisioned that pot smokers all over the world would celebrate each April 20th as a result of their foray to the Point Reyes forest. Your day has were able to become something of the national vacation in the face of official condemnation. This year’s celebration will likely be no different. Officials on the University of Colorado at Boulder and University of California, Santa Cruz, which boast two of the largest smoke outs, are pushing back. “As another April 20 approaches, we have been confronted with concerns from students, parents, alumni, Regents, and community members about a repeat of last year’s 4/20 ‘event,'” wrote Boulder’s chancellor in a letter to students. “On April 20, 2009, hopefully that you simply will choose not to participate in unlawful activity that debases the standing of your psfuxi and degree, and will encourage to do something with pride and remember who they are.”

But the Cheshire cat has run out of the bag. Students and locals shows up at round four, light up at 4:20 and become gone shortly thereafter. No bands, no speakers, no chants. Just a variety of people getting together and getting stoned.

The code often creeps into popular culture and mainstream settings. Almost all of the clocks in the pawn shop scene in “Pulp Fiction,” as an example, are positioned to 4:20. In 2003, if the California legislature codified the medical marijuana law voters had approved, the bill was named SB420.

“We think it was a staffer doing work for [lead Assembly sponsor Mark] Leno, but no one has ever fessed up,” says Steph Sherer, head of Americans for Safe Access, which lobbied on the part of the bill. California legislative staffers spoken to with this story say that the 420 designation remains unknown, but that both Leno and also the lead Senate sponsor, John Vasconcellos, are hip enough that they have to have known what it meant. The code pops up in Craig’s List postings when fellow smokers hunt for “420 friendly” roommates. “It’s only a vaguer way of saying it and it also kind of causes it to be type of cool,” says Bloom. “Like, you know you’re inside the know, but that does show you how it’s in the mainstream.”