420, also stylized as 4/20, is a term popular in cannabis culture. It is most frequently used to refer to a time at which – either 4:20 a.m. or p.m., though the latter use is more common – or calendar date – April 20th – upon which cannabis use is common. 420 can also be used to refer to cannabis itself.
Here are six facts about cannabis and the term 420 that you probably don’t already know about.
1. The term dates back to 1971, when it was coined by a group of high schoolers
Five high schoolers in San Rafael near Napa, California, called themselves “the Waldos,” a term likely sourced from the popular line of Where’s Waldo? search-and-find publications. They claim to have used the term because they frequently hung out at a wall outside of their high school.
The group used the term 4:20 Louis to refer to their plan to locate a long-lost cannabis crop. Although they never found the crop, they began using the term 4:20 to discreetly refer to smoking or otherwise consuming cannabis.
2. Are there 420 active chemical compounds in cannabis?
As with anything in life, there are countless myths and bits of inaccurate information that surround cannabis culture. One of these myths is that there are exactly, or roughly, depending on the source of the misinformation, 420 compounds in cannabis that are responsible for its psychoactive effects.
According to Wikipedia, there are currently, give or take, 113 cannabinoids that have been identified in and isolated from cannabis. Although this myth might sound believable, it couldn’t be further from the truth.
3. Most states across the United States have begun overseeing the cannabis industry
Although humans have used drugs for thousands of years, countries around the world have outlawed a plethora of popular psychoactive drugs as a means of attempting to curb the detrimental effects that drugs have on some people. Outlawing drugs, including recreational marijuana and medical cannabis, makes them more valuable and
Currently, as of April 2019, 33 states – including the District of Columbia, the nation’s capital – have legalized cannabis for either medical or recreational use. All 10 of the states that have legalized cannabis for recreational use initially approved the medical use of cannabis.
4. The term “marijuana” was created by the United States government to demonize cannabis
Cannabis and hemp have long been known as common names for the Cannabis genus of flowering plants and the psychoactive flowers they produced. Harry Anslinger, then the head of the United States Federal Narcotics Bureau, began referring to cannabis as “marijuana,” which had long been used in Mexico as a Spanish term for cannabis.
Harry Anslinger felt that the term “marijuana” would make cannabis seem more foreign to Americans, in turn generating public support for the criminalization of the drug. Anslinger associated marijuana with colored people, claiming that it “[caused] white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes” and other colored people, who were discriminated against much more widely and intensely during this time.
Anslinger’s plan worked. He should forever live in infamy as a major catalyst to the United States’ drug war – whether you support the drug war or not, he played a major role in life as we now know it.
5. Regulating cannabis leads to major tax revenue
Making something illegal encourages criminal enterprises to engage in that particular trade. Among the many undesirable outcomes to society that the illegalization of things causes, one of them is missing out on taxes.
Since Colorado began overseeing the cannabis industry, the Colorado Department of Revenue has hauled in more than $800 million in taxes associated with its sale.
6. Cannabis originally comes from Asia
Although historians can’t pin down exactly where cannabis comes from, we do know that cannabis is native to Asia. Cannabis seeds have been found in Japanese ruins dating back some 10,000 years, though the first known written reference to cannabis comes from China – all the way back to 2727 B.C.