The world of weed is chock-full of weird history, strange rumors, epic myths, and funky factoids that are often stranger than fiction — especially when it comes to 420.
So let’s take a look at some of the most interesting, peculiar, and lesser known facts about our favorite number, and maybe debunk a few false standards along the way. Here are 10 things you didn’t know about 420.
1. Many of Your Favorite 420 Facts Aren’t Actually Facts
Sorry to burst your bubble, but most of the 420 myths you may have already heard are fake news:
- California‘s marijuana penal code is not 420. Penal code 420 has to do with obstructing access to public land.
- 4:20 p.m. is not tea time in Amsterdam.
- Not every clock in “Pulp Fiction” is set to 4:20, though some are.
- There are not exactly 420 chemicals in cannabis.
- Bob Marley died on May 11, not April 20. His son, Stephen, was born on April 20, 1971.
- Bob Dylan’s “Rainy Day Women #12 and 35” is not an intentional 420 reference, despite the fact that the numbers 12 and 35 multiply to equal 420.
- The Grateful Dead did not live at 420 Ashbury St. in San Francisco, though their address was 710 Ashbury St., which is prophetically lit.
But it is Adolf Hitler‘s birthday. That one is true. Sorry to bring the mood down.
2. The Earliest Possible Written Connection Between Weed and 420 Comes from H.P. Lovecraft
You read that right. One of America’s most influential masters of the macabre may have inadvertently created the earliest 420 weed reference. In the sci-fi short story “In the Walls of Eryx” by H.P. Lovecraft and Kenneth Sterling, a space traveler explores Venus and encounters a strange plant that gives off some pretty stoney effects:
“Gradually the dancing lights began to disappear, and the shimmering spectral scenery began to assume the aspect of solidity. When I did get wholly clear I looked at my watch and was astonished to find that the time was only 4:20 [emphasis added]. Though eternities had seemed to pass, the whole experience could have consumed little more than a half-hour.”
3. Denver Has a Mile Marker 419.99, All Because of Sign Thieves
In 2013, the state of Colorado switched mile marker “420” to “419.99” because people kept stealing it. pic.twitter.com/5QEKkPWRKw
— UberFacts (@UberFacts) February 27, 2019
In 2014, the Colorado Department of Transportation replaced mile marker 420 on Interstate 70, east of Denver, with a 419.99 mile marker to deter all the would-be thieves who’d like a green 420 sign for their bedroom wall.
4. Hotels Have Ditched Room 420 Like It’s the 13th Floor
Pay attention next time you’re staying at a hotel, and you may notice the conspicuous absence of a certain room number. That’s because some hotels go through the awkward trouble of skipping the number 420 to avoid sign stealing and weed smoking in the room that would otherwise bear the mark of the green beast.
5. As Coined by the Waldos, The Term was Originally ‘420 Louis’
420 origin stories abound, but the most accepted and arguably most documented is that of the Waldos, a group of teenage tokers from San Rafael, California, who would meet up at 4:20 p.m. after school to track down an abandoned weed patch not far from their home.
Depending on who is telling it, the Waldos story typically credits the Grateful Dead for the proliferation and broad use of the term 420 in weed culture. But when the Waldos first started using the term throughout the halls of San Rafael High School in 1971, they would shout “420 Louis” to indicate that they’d be meeting at their high school’s statue of French chemist Louis Pasteur.
6. Before He Smoked a Blunt, Elon Musk Got into Trouble for a 420 Tweet
Mere weeks before his infamous blunt-smoking incident on Joe Rogan’s podcast, Tesla CEO Elon Musk caused another row with a tweet announcing he’d consider taking the company private at $420 per share.
Am considering taking Tesla private at $420. Funding secured.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 7, 2018
Though not cemented in the public consciousness quite as firmly as the Joe Rogan incident, Musk’s 420 tweet triggered both a federal lawsuit and a Justice Department probe due to the illegality of executives giving shareholders misleading information about big corporate decisions.
Musk didn’t take long to roll back the tweet, stating in an Aug. 24, 2018, blog post that the company would stay public after all, but as is often the case with a well-timed 420 reference, much of the damage had already been done.
7. A Rabbit Tried to Kill President Jimmy Carter on 4/20
Well, maybe the rabbit wasn’t trying to kill him, but the infamous and amusing “Jimmy Carter killer rabbit incident” — in which then-president Jimmy Carter was nearly attacked by a swimming swamp rabbit while fishing on a lake near his hometown of Plains, Georgia — did take place on April 20, 1979. There’s no direct connection to weed here, but it’s no wonder that a goofy incident like this would capture the imaginations of stoners by happening to occur on their favorite holiday.
8. A Contestant on ‘The Price is Right’ Kept Bidding $420
When pulled from the audience to be a contestant on “The Price is Right” in 2012, Evan Goding turned his 15 minutes of fame into an ode to cannabis, bidding $420 for every estimate retail price. He only deviated once, bidding $1,420 in a round when $420 would have actually been the closest bid.
9. The First Acid Trip was Taken on 4/19 at 4:20
Swiss chemist Albert Hoffman first synthesized LSD in 1938, and took the very first dose on April 19, 1943 at 4:20 p.m.. True to the types of sensations often experienced around 4:20, Hoffman reported “visual distortions, symptoms of paralysis,” and a “desire to laugh” upon his first trip. Too bad he couldn’t have held off another day to up the 420 factor in this factoid.
10. Ben & Jerry’s is Making 4/20 an Annual Priority
Ben & Jerry’s is always there for us when we’re high and craving a generous scoop of Half Baked or Cherry Garcia. And for the past few years, the ice cream brand has put out some lit campaigns for 4/20. In 2015, it released the limited-time, stoner’s dream ice cream sandwich, the “BRRR-ito,” on 4/20 — following it up with the “CHILL-aco” on 4/20/2017. In 2018, it marked the holiday with a public call for social justice, advocating for the expungement of all marijuana-related convictions. Like a good 420-friendly neighbor, Ben & Jerry’s is there.