The rise of 4/20 – Puff, puff, pass

Written by Rachel J.

The year was 1971. Aside from lyrics from “Riders on the Storm,” by The Doors, ringing through the minds of the young, news of a hidden stash ran rampant throughout San Rafael High School in San Rafael, California. With a map in hand and a determined effort to find these beautiful buds, a small group of students, then known as the “Waldos,” or “The Odd Group,” met up everyday-at the same place and at the same time-the Louis Pasteur Statue at 4:20 pm. 

High hopes (don’t mind the pun) and determination kept them going as they searched for the treasure. Beginning with a 5 person stoner club led by Dave Reddix, Steve Capper, Larry Schwartz, Jeff Noel and Mark Gravich, these young explorers would go about giving each other nods in passing or handing each other notes that read “420 Louie.” They knew where to be, when, and why. Were they being led by a phantom paper trail? Possibly, because as the story goes, no grand station stash of Marijuana was ever found. But one thing was for certain, they all were looking for the fun and exciting escape brought on by smoking grass. 

The term was so catchy though, that it leaked out to the other student body. Followers from other groups, including other local high schoolers, would meet with them after practice. Code 420. It didn’t end there though-Reddix and The Waldos had set a new stage for a growing pop culture trend that would linger for years to come. 

So much so that the slang term has created a cultural holiday-4/20 is more than just a day in the middle of April, that is, for ardent pot smokers both young and old around the world. I mean, IT IS the cherished DAY to get high. 

In fact, major rallies, festivals, and crowds occur across the country, particularly in Colorado. On April 20th, the 4/20 Festival is the place to be. In Denver people unofficially but officially come together at the 4/20 Fest in Civic Center Park to embrace the historical and unforgettable phase of the Grateful Dead followers and The Waldos. Other states that have legalized pot smoking and have their own established 4/20 party are California’s 420 Las Angeles Edition or Hippie Hill; Atlanta, Georgia’s Sweetwater Fest; Wisconsin’s Great Midwest Marijuana Harvest Festival; and Oregon’s Recess 4.20. New Mexico is the newest addition to the list of states that have legalized the use of recreational marijuana as of April of 2021 with their NM 420 Fest

And if you cannot wait until April 20th to get your mojo or you are seeking to join the local 420 crowds, and you need it now, you can find marijuana dispensaries and available pot on most corners in any state where it is legalized so long as you are 21 years of age or older. That being said, you have access to multiple THC options-something The Waldos and the stoners of the 70’s missed out on. In 2022, marijuana can be found in vapes, pills, capsules, sweet or chewy edibles, soda, packaged, and unwrapped options. What’s more, wIth the options, there are several strains and flavors that are cultivated and grown for the user’s taste buds and recreational needs. In Denver, you can find pot shops on almost every corner, but a personal favorite? As a local marijuana dispensary, Sticky Fingerz Dispensary is located in Denver’s Rhino District. 

50 years later the Louis Pasteur statue remains an iconic representation of more than a well-known scientist-and with that, the term we hear even today. 4:20? Whose got the pot? Time to pass the joint.

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