No, 4/20 is not the day Peter “Legalize it” Tosh was born. Nor is it the day that The Stepping Razor died. 420 is not the day that we celebrate the life of Bob Marley the man who said “Excuse me while I light my spliff.”
In the early 1970s a small group of hippie stoners at San Rafael High School in northern California used to meet at a designated location every day to smoke weed at 4:20 p.m. They did this so regularly that among members of the group (known as “the Waldos”) the expression “420” became a general euphemism for “time to light up.”
The catchphrase spread beyond their immediate circle, beyond the high school they attended, and ultimately beyond California, so that within a decade or two pot smokers were using it across the country, and indeed the world over.
How popular is the expression today? A Google search on the paired terms “420” and “marijuana” brings up more than 18 million results, including a link to the website of 420 Magazine, a publication dedicated to what its publishers refer to as “cannabis awareness.”