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The CULTA Blog

What is 4/20?

clock that reads 420

April 20, 2024, is the first 4/20 in Maryland since adult-use cannabis was legalized earlier this year, and as you probably imagined, the CULTA team is ready to commemorate our favorite day. Head to our three CULTA locations in Baltimore, Ellicott City, and Urbana for our annual 4/20 events, where we’ll commemorate this once-in-a-lifetime milestone with free giveaways, special deals, exclusive product drops, and limited-edition apparel. 

In this blog, we'll explore 4/20's origins, growth in popularity, and some fun cannabis-focused events occurring across the country and around town. 

4/20 origins

Both cannabis smokers and non-smokers recognize what 4/20 represents. Still, not many people know why or how the number became linked to cannabis. Some people think 420 was originally a police code related to cannabis (it never was), while others believe it has to do with the number of compounds in cannabis (while this is true, but is not the reason behind 4/20.) In reality, 4/20 can be traced back to a group of California teens in the 1970s. 

It all started with the Waldos

The story behind 4/20 isn’t super fun or exciting, but meeting your friends after class to hang out is something many people can relate to. This group of boys (Steve Capper, Dave Reddix, Jeffrey Noel, Larry Schwartz, and Mark Gravich) called themselves the “Waldos” because they met at a wall and at 4:20 after extracurricular activities at their school ended. They used the word “420”  as a code word for cannabis. 

Rumor has it that a treasure map to a secret cannabis patch was involved and that the boys met at 4:20 to try to find the patch -- they weren’t able to, but the meeting time of 4:20 stuck, and the rest is history. 

The Grateful Dead were involved

So, the term “420” was coined by some teenagers in San Rafael, but how did it take off and become recognized on an international level? The Grateful Dead, of course! Members of the Waldos had various connections and access points to the Grateful Dead (Mark’s father managed their real estate and Dave’s brother was good friends with the Dead’s bassist.) As the guys hung around the Dead the expression caught on in the Deadhead community. 

The terminology stayed within the Deadhead community for a bit, until December 28, 1990 when a group of Oakland Deadheads distributed flyers that invited people to smoke “420” on April 20th at 4:20 PM. One of the fliers landed in the hands of Steve Bloom, a former reporter for High Times magazine, who printed the flier in 1991 and continued to reference the number. Soon, it became known worldwide as a code for cannabis. In 1998, High Times acknowledged that the “Waldos” were the inventors of 420. 

4/20 and the 2000s

Although 420 was first coined decades before, it didn’t reach its peak of popularity until the 2000s. The highly popular 4/20 event at the CU-Boulder campus drew over 25,000 people in 2011; the campus completely shut down on 4/20 between 2012-2015 in an effort to snuff out the annual event. Today, the FlyHi 420 Festival in Denver touts itself as the world’s largest 420 festival. 

4/20 events in 2024 

This year’s 4/20 events include a little something for everyone across the country. Notable events include a massive block party in Austin, a cannabis festival and farmer’s market in Ohio, and a Roll Up for Equity film screening in San Diego. To find an event near you, check out this mini roundup of educational workshops, fun parties, and wellness retreats that commemorate cannabis in all its forms. Whether you’re new to cannabis or consider yourself a pro, there’s an event for everyone! 

Ways to commemorate the day in Maryland

Just like there are multiple ways to consume cannabis, there are multiple ways to commemorate 4/20, and which you choose should depend on your mood that day. If you feel like going out, head to a local dispensary (like ours) where there’s sure to be a fun event or, at a minimum, some pretty awesome deals that are too good to resist. 

If you feel like being more laidback, gather your friends together and watch a classic “stoner” movie, like How High, Half Baked, or Dazed and Confused. If you prefer to enjoy the day solo, start your day with some meditation and end it by cooking a canna-infused meal. 

National Cannabis Festival

One of the best local cannabis events is the National Cannabis Festival. This year’s event takes place on 4/19 and 4/20 at RFK Campus in Washington D.C. and includes performances by the Wu-Tang Clan and Redman. Celebrate cannabis legalization with two days of live music, plenty of munchies, exhibitors, and advocacy seminars. 

4/20, CULTA style

This year, the celebration will be bigger and better as we extend the festivities to CULTA CDG locations in Baltimore, Ellicott City, and Urbana. Head to one of our three locations for fun and festivities. In addition to the festivities, we are dropping four new exclusive limited-edition CULTA strains: Romscotti, Sweets, Schism, and Blazing Onion. We are also dropping the first gummy flavor, Baltimore Crush, from our sister brand grass. This blood orange gummy is an ode to the city we love, distilled to perfection from our premium flower. Same CULTA quality at a great price. 

 Want to learn more about other canna-days? Read our blog on 7/10 day here and, if you’re a retailer, check out our 4/20 guide for retailers.