For cannabis connoisseurs of all kinds, April 20th has become the international day of marijuana appreciation — a chance to celebrate the plant that continues to change the world.

Come springtime, you can find countless things to do on 420.  There are typically festivals, fairs, expos and various meet and greets, among other types of marijuana events across the world. One thing that might surprise you is where this 420 cannabis culture began.

420 cannabis culture doesn’t begin with police. Rather, it started in the 1970s with a group of five teenage students in San Rafael, California – the Waldos, as they referred to themselves.

According to an article from Now This (posted on 4/20/2020, of course), the students heard of a Coast Guard member who had planted a cannabis crop but could no longer tend to it. Provided with a “treasure map” (some believe from the plant’s owner himself) that led to the abandoned plant, the students formulated a plan to meet at the Louis Pasteur statue near their high school once a week to conduct their search.

Steve Capper, one of the original members of the Waldos, shared with Huffington Post that they coordinated a meet time of approximately 4:20 and would remind each other in the hallways to meet up at this time, referring to the plan as “420 Louis” then eventually dropping the “Louis.” Although they never actually discovered the free bud, they coined the term “420,” enabling students to discuss smoking weed without adults knowing, thus bringing the 420 cannabis culture to life.

In the article, Capper shares that the group had connections with the iconic Grateful Dead, which ultimately led to this secret spreading internationally. One member’s father managed the Dead’s real estate, another member’s brother was good friends with the bassist. When running around backstage or on stage and passing a joint from one another, the band would just say “hey, 420,” which eventually caused the spread throughout that community.

Following this, various publications picked up the term, assisting in its global launch, and today, the unofficial holiday is recognized and celebrated worldwide with festivals, meet and greets, and other marijuana events.

In 2003, the California medical marijuana bill was named SB 420. Additionally, the term has been referenced in classics like “Pulp Fiction,” where it was discovered that some of the clocks were set to 4:20, and on national television when a “Price is Right” only bid amounts involving the numbers 420. It’s even shown up in the 1990s Nickelodeon cartoon “Rocko’s Modern Life.”

Things to Do on 420: Local & Worldwide Marijuana Events

Every year, many states across the country hold marijuana events all of their own, with Arizona being no exception hosting unique sticky-icky celebrations in the past like Days on the Green, 420 Fest, Hail the Leaf, Blooms Blazin’ Party, with High Tide and Errl Cup on the horizon for 2021.

However, these celebrations are only amplified with cannabis rallies, parties, and festivals being thrown to celebrate, educate, and protest existing weed laws worldwide. Some popular international marijuana events include:

  • 4.20 Hemp Fest in Milan, Italy
  • ExpoCannabis Uruguay
  • Canapa Mundi in Rome
  • Hash Bash in Michigan
  • Pan Ram Festival in Thailand
  • Hanfparade in Germany
  • 420 Toronto
  • Hempfest Seattle
  • Spannabis in Spain
  • Cultiva in Austria

And that’s only to name a few of the major celebrations happening around the world!

While the beloved cannabis holiday was a bit different last year as the world grappled with the pandemic, it appears that many states and countries are making up for lost time while others are working diligently to coordinate virtual marijuana events in true “the show must go on” fashion. Guests will be able to stream the events, listen to live musical performances and learn about reform plans from local lawmakers, all while enjoying their favorite strain from the comfort of their own couch.