Pubdate: Fri, 24 Apr 2015
Source: Coast Reporter (CN BC)
Copyright: 2015 Coast Reporter
Author: Jacob Roberts


International Marijuana Day (April 20) was last Monday, and potheads
around the world all got really high at 4:20 p.m. to celebrate. Or
protest. Or something. Probably they just wanted to get high.

What is this tradition? Where did it come from? And why is it so

There are a lot of myths about where it came from. Until recently, I
was under the impression that section 420 of the California penal code
referred to marijuana possession, but that's not true. Section 420
refers to obstructing the entrance to public land. Not even close.

Some good things have happened on April 20. In 1534, Jacques Cartier
set out from the Old World to eventually land on what is now the coast
of Eastern Canada. In 1657, freedom of religion was granted to the
Jews of New Amsterdam (today New York City). And in 1902, Pierre and
Marie Curie refined radium chloride. Those two probably could have
used some medical marijuana.

So have some bad things. The CIA's 1961 Bay of Pigs disaster was on
4/20. So was the Columbine massacre in 1999, and the Deepwater Horizon
oil spill in 2010.

And quite famously, 4/20 was Adolf Hitler's birthday in 1889.
Interestingly, April 20, 1945 is also reported as the last day that
Hitler saw daylight before retreating into his bunker.

Although none of these things are the reasons that stoners get
together and smoke pot publicly with what they hope is impunity.

The truth, it would seem, is actually pretty mundane. A group of high
school kids in the 1970s calling themselves the Waldos started the 420
tradition by meeting at a statue of Louis Pasteur at around 4:20 p.m.
Probably because it was right after class let out.

They started the code of saying "420" to mean "let's go get high in
front of the Louis Pasteur statue."

It caught on, and now 420 is used all over the place as a code for
marijuana, and April 20 is a widely celebrated pseudo-holiday.

Coincidentally, Louis Pasteur and Claude Bernard successfully
falsified the theory of spontaneous generation on April 20, 1862. Up
until then it was a scientific theory that things like maggots could
spontaneously appear on rotting meat.

Did the Waldos know this? Uncertain - it doesn't seem like they spent
a lot of time in class.
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MAP posted-by: Matt