Adaption by James Bradbury of an article from Forreal.org
You may have seen this mysterious number in the form of logos, on TV shows and in films, perhaps without knowing what it means or even noticing it. Few people currently know what this number represents.
Simply put, 420 is a symbol of cannabis and its culture. It’s a “nudge-nudge wink” for pot users akin to the popular euphemism “I like to party”. It means they can speak openly about cannabis use by way of a code so that non-users will remain ignorant of their meaning. Somehow it leaked out into the mainstream and onto commercial clothing and other merchandise. Despite its prevalence, many parents and some teens are still unaware of what 420 means.
Nobody is certain why the number 420 became associated with cannabis culture, but numerous theories exist. Some people believe that it was originally a police code signalling cannabis use, while others think it came from the number of chemicals found in cannabis. As it happens there are over 400 chemicals found in cannabis, many of them carcinogenic, but the exact number and proportions vary widely between plants. Yet another idea is that 4:20 was the time a group of guys met after school to smoke cannabis. In any case, the number has been significant for cannabis users and promoters since the 1970’s.
When you see the symbol 420, be aware of what it represents. The person or organisation behind it is probably advocating cannabis use, its legalisation and possibly that of other drugs. Remember that the use of cannabis frequently leads users into using other drugs due to a variety of physical, psychological and social factors.
Those who make use of the 420 symbol may imply that cannabis use is commonplace, or even normal. This is certainly not true, as over 80% of young people do not use drugs more than once or twice, while 50% never try them at all. For more information about the physical, psychological and social dangers of cannabis, see our Cannabis Information page.
Thanks to Forreal.org for the use of material for this article.