420 Is Not Bob Marley’s Birthday
Jamaican Music

420 Is Not Bob Marley’s Birthday

Bob Marley

People everywhere celebrate “Weed Day” on April 4, a date generally called “420″ (4/20).” There are many theories about why that date was chosen to extol the virtues of marijuana, but two of them are definitely NOT true. April 20 (4/20) is not the birthday of reggae legend Bob Marley.

Marley, who was well known for his love the herb, was born on February 6, 1945. Nor is April 4 the date of his death. He died of melanoma in Miami, Florida, on May 11, 1981.

Some of the other theories explaining why 4/20 has become Weed Day around the world may seem more plausible, but are still wrong. For example, it has been said that 4/20 refers to California’s 420 criminal code that at one time prohibited the sale and distribution of recreational marijuana. However, California’s actual 420 code refers to “obstructing entry on public land.”

For math fans, there is the Bob Dylan’s “Rainy Day Women #12 and 35” song from his “Blonde on Blonde” album, which was released in 1966. If the numbers in the song title are multiplied – 12 times 35 – the total does equal 420. The song’s lyrics also state, “Everybody must get stoned.”

Some chemistry lovers theorized that 4/20 referred to a “fact” that marijuana contained 420 chemicals. This theory has been disproven by studies showing that many strains of marijuana actually contain over 500 compounds.

One of the most well-known and more believable theories is known as the “Waldos Legend,” which refers to a group of students at San Rafael High School in California during the 1970s who named themselves after a term created by comedian Buddy Hackett to describe “odd people.” The group developed a tradition of meeting at 4:20 pm to smoke after school. According to their website, this time was the perfect way to remember their ritual. The group came to use the term “420” to refer to any time they wanted to get high, and once they started to hang out backstage at Grateful Dead concerts, the band and crew also began to use “420” for a similar reason. During the band’s appearances in the 1980s, it is said that flyers advertising their show would use “420” as a code to members of the weed culture. There was some confusion about California’s 420 criminal code and the use of the number by the band as well, since the flyers said that 420 was the police code for smoking marijuana.

The Waldos had no idea that their private joke would become the name of an annual international weed holiday.

About the author

Stephanie Koury