Every year on April 20th, cannabis enthusiasts around the world celebrate their favorite plant with festivals, rallies, concerts, and other events. But what is the origin of this date and why is it so important to the cannabis industry?
The most popular theory is that 4/20 originated from a group of high school students in San Rafael, California, who called themselves the Waldos. In 1971, they heard about a hidden cannabis crop near Point Reyes and decided to meet at 4:20 p.m. after school to search for it. They never found the crop, but they kept using the code word “4:20” to refer to cannabis and their smoking sessions.
The term spread among the cannabis subculture and was popularized by the Grateful Dead, who were friends with some of the Waldos and often performed in San Rafael. The band’s fans, known as Deadheads, adopted 4/20 as a way to express their solidarity and identity. In 1990, a group of Deadheads distributed flyers at a concert in Oakland, inviting people to smoke cannabis on April 20th at 4:20 p.m. One of these flyers was seen by Steve Bloom, an editor of High Times magazine, who published it and promoted 4/20 as a global phenomenon.
Since then, 4/20 has become a symbolic date for the cannabis movement and industry. It is a day to celebrate the culture, history, and benefits of cannabis, as well as to advocate for its legalization and regulation. It is also a day to generate awareness and education about the plant and its potential uses for medicine, wellness, recreation, and industry.
According to BDS Analytics, a cannabis market research firm, 4/20 is also the biggest sales day of the year for the legal cannabis industry in the United States. In 2019, legal cannabis sales on 4/20 reached $95 million, a 36% increase from an average Saturday. The most popular products were flower, pre-rolls, concentrates, and edibles. The states with the highest sales were California ($24.3 million), Colorado ($19.6 million), and Washington ($12.3 million).
The cannabis industry also uses 4/20 as an opportunity to launch new products, offer discounts and promotions, sponsor events and festivals, and engage with customers and media. Some examples of 4/20 campaigns in recent years include: