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The History of 420


Warren Haynes, the Allman Brothers Band guitarist, routinely plays with the surviving members of the Grateful Dead, now touring as The Dead. He’s just finished a Dead show in Washington, D.C. and gets a pop quiz from the Huffington Post.
Where does 420 come from?
He pauses and thinks, hands on his side. “I don’t know the real origin. I know myths and rumors,” he says. “I’m really confused about the first time I heard it. It was like a police code for smoking in progress or something. What’s the real story?”
Depending on who you ask, or their state of inebriation, there are as many varieties of answers as strains of medical bud in California. It’s the number of active chemicals in marijuana. It’s teatime in Holland. It has something to do with Hitler’s birthday. It’s those numbers in that Bob Dylan song multiplied.
The origin of the term 420, celebrated around the world by pot smokers every April 20th, has long been obscured by the clouded memories of the folks who made it a phenomenon.
The Huffington Post chased the term back to its roots and was able to find it in a lost patch of cannabis in a Point Reyes, California forest. Just as interesting as its origin, it turns out, is how it spread.
It starts with the Dead.
It was Christmas week in Oakland, 1990. Steven Bloom was wandering through The Lot – that timeless gathering of hippies that springs up in the parking lot before every Grateful Dead concert – when a Deadhead handed him a yellow flyer.
“We are going to meet at 4:20 on 4/20 for 420-ing in Marin County at the Bolinas Ridge sunset spot on Mt. Tamalpais,” reads the message, which Bloom dug up and forwarded to the Huffington Post. Bloom, then a reporter for High Times magazine and now the publisher of and co-author of Pot Culture, had never heard of “420-ing” before.
The flyer came complete with a 420 back story: “420 started somewhere in San Rafael, California in the late ’70s. It started as the police code for Marijuana Smoking in Progress. After local heads heard of the police call, they started using the expression 420 when referring to herb – Let’s Go 420, dude!”
Bloom reported his find in the May 1991 issue of High Times, which the magazine found in its archives and provided to the Huffington Post. The story, though, was only partially right.
It had nothing to do with a police code — though the San Rafael part was dead on. Indeed, a group of five San Rafael High School friends known as the Waldos – by virtue of their chosen hang-out spot, a wall outside the school – coined the term in 1971. The Huffington Post spoke with Waldo Steve, Waldo Dave and Dave’s older brother, Patrick, and confirmed their full names and identities, which they asked to keep secret for professional reasons. (Pot is still, after all, illegal.)
The Waldos never envisioned that pot smokers the world over would celebrate each April 20th as a result of their foray into the Point Reyes forest. The day has managed to become something of a national holiday in the face of official condemnation. This year’s celebration will be no different. Officials at the University of Colorado at Boulder and University of California, Santa Cruz, which boast two of the biggest smoke outs, are pushing back. “As another April 20 approaches, we are faced with concerns from students, parents, alumni, Regents, and community members about a repeat of last year’s 4/20 ‘event,’” wrote Boulder’s chancellor in a letter to students. “On April 20, 2009, we hope that you will choose not to participate in unlawful activity that debases the reputation of your University and degree, and will encourage your fellow Buffs to act with pride and remember who they really are.”
But the Cheshire cat is out of the bag. Students and locals will show up at round four, light up at 4:20 and be gone shortly thereafter. No bands, no speakers, no chants. Just a bunch of people getting together and getting stoned.
The code often creeps into popular culture and mainstream settings. All of the clocks in Pulp Fiction, for instance, are set to 4:20. In 2003, when the California legislature codified the medical marijuana law voters had approved, the bill was named SB420.
“We think it was a staffer working for [lead Assembly sponsor Mark] Leno, but no one has ever fessed up,” says Steph Sherer, head of Americans for Safe Access, which lobbied on behalf of the bill. California legislative staffers spoken to for this story say that the 420 designation remains a mystery, but that both Leno and the lead Senate sponsor, John Vasconcellos, are hip enough that they must have known what it meant. (If you were involved with SB420 and know the story, email me.)
The code pops up in Craig’s List postings when fellow smokers search for “420 friendly” roommates. “It’s just a vaguer way of saying it and it kind of makes it kind of cool,” says Bloom. “Like, you know you’re in the know, but that does show you how it’s in the mainstream.”
The Waldos do have proof, however, that they used the term in the early ’70s in the form of an old 420 flag and numerous letters with 420 references and early ’70s post marks. They also have a story.
It goes like this: One day in the Fall of 1971 – harvest time – the Waldos got word of a Coast Guard service member who could no longer tend his plot of marijuana plants near the Point Reyes Peninsula Coast Guard station. A treasure map in hand, the Waldos decided to pluck some of this free bud.
The Waldos were all athletes and agreed to meet at the statue of Loius Pasteur outside the school at 4:20, after practice, to begin the hunt.

“We would remind each other in the hallways we were supposed to meet up at 4:20. It originally started out 4:20-Louis and we eventually dropped the Louis,” Waldo Steve tells the Huffington Post.
The first forays out were unsuccessful, but the group kept looking for the hidden crop. “We’d meet at 4:20 and get in my old ’66 Chevy Impala and, of course, we’d smoke instantly and smoke all the way out to Pt. Reyes and smoke the entire time we were out there. We did it week after week,” says Steve. “We never actually found the patch.”
But they did find a useful codeword. “I could say to one of my friends, I’d go, 420, and it was telepathic. He would know if I was saying, ‘Hey, do you wanna go smoke some?’ Or, ‘Do you have any?’ Or, ‘Are you stoned right now?’ It was kind of telepathic just from the way you said it,” Steve says. “Our teachers didn’t know what we were talking about. Our parents didn’t know what we were talking about.”
It’s one thing to identify the origin of the term. Indeed, Wikipedia and Urban Dictionary already include references to the Waldos. The bigger question: How did 420 spread from a circle of California stoners across the globe?
As fortune would have it, the collapse of San Francisco’s hippie utopia in the late ’60s set the stage. As speed freaks, thugs and con artists took over The Haight, the Grateful Dead picked up and moved to the Marin County hills – just blocks from San Rafael High School.
“Marin Country was kind of ground zero for the counter culture,” says Steve.
The Waldos had more than just a geographic connection to the Dead. Mark Waldo’s father took care of real estate for the Dead. And Waldo Dave’s older brother, Patrick, managed a Dead sideband and was good friends with bassist Phil Lesh. Patrick tells the Huffington Post that he smoked with Lesh on numerous occasions. He couldn’t recall if he used the term 420 around him, but guessed that he must have.
The Dead, recalls Waldo Steve, “had this rehearsal hall on Front Street, San Rafael, California, and they used to practice there. So we used to go hang out and listen to them play music and get high while they’re practicing for gigs. But I think it’s possible my brother Patrick might have spread it through Phil Lesh. And me, too, because I was hanging out with Lesh and his band when they were doing a summer tour my brother was managing.”
The band that Patrick managed was called Too Loose To Truck and featured not only Lesh but rock legend David Crosby and acclaimed guitarist Terry Haggerty.
The Waldos also had open access to Dead parties and rehearsals. “We’d go with [Mark's] dad, who was a hip dad from the ’60s,” says Steve. “There was a place called Winterland and we’d always be backstage running around or onstage and, of course, we’re using those phrases. When somebody passes a joint or something, ‘Hey, 420.’ So it started spreading through that community.”
Lesh, walking off the stage after a recent Dead concert, confirmed that Patrick is a friend and said he “wouldn’t be surprised” if the Waldos had coined 420. He wasn’t sure, he said, when the first time he heard it was. “I do not remember. I’m very sorry. I wish I could help,” he said.
Wavy-Gravy is a hippie icon with his own ice cream flavor and has been hanging out with the Dead for decades. HuffPost spotted him outside the concert. Asked about the origin of 420, he suggested it began “somewhere in the foggy mists of time. What time is it now? I say to you: eternity now.”
As the Grateful Dead toured the globe through the ’70s and ’80s, playing hundreds of shows a year – the term spread though the Dead underground. Once High Times got hip to it, the magazine helped take it global.
“I started incorporating it into everything we were doing,” High Times editor Steve Hager told the Huffington Post. “I started doing all these big events – the World Hemp Expo Extravaganza and the Cannabis Cup – and we built everything around 420. The publicity that High Times gave it is what made it an international thing. Until then, it was relatively confined to the Grateful Dead subculture. But we blew it out into an international phenomenon.”
Sometime in the early ’90s, High Times wisely purchased the web domain
Bloom, the reporter who first stumbled on it, gives High Times less credit. “We posted that flyer and then we started to see little references to it. It wasn’t really much of High Times doing,” he says. “We weren’t really pushing it that hard, just kind of referencing the phrase.”
The Waldos say that within a few years the term had spread throughout San Rafael and was cropping up elsewhere in the state. By the early ’90s, it had penetrated deep enough that Dave and Steve started hearing people use it in unexpected places – Ohio, Florida, Canada – and spotted it painted on signs and etched into park benches.
In 1997, the Waldos decided to set the record straight and got in touch with High Times.
“They said, ‘The fact is, there is no 420 [police] code in California. You guys ever look it up?’” Blooms recalls. He had to admit that no, he had never looked it up. Hager flew out to San Rafael, met the Waldos, examined their evidence, spoke with others in town, and concluded they were telling the truth.
Hager still believes them. “No one’s ever been able to come up with any use of 420 that predates the 1971 usage, which they had established. So unless somebody can come up with something that predates them, then I don’t think anybody’s going to get credit for it other than them,” he says.
“We never made a dime on the thing,” says Dave, half boasting, half lamenting.
He does take pride in his role, though. “I still have a lot of friends who tell their friends that they know one of the guys that started the 420 thing. So it’s kind of like a cult celebrity thing. Two years ago I went to the Cannabis Cup in Amsterdam. High Times magazine flew me out,” says Dave.
Dave is now a credit analyst and works for Steve, who owns a specialty lending institution and lost money to the con artist Bernie Madoff. He spends more time today, he says, composing angry letters to the SEC than he does getting high.
The other three Waldos have also been successful, Steve says. One is head of marketing for a Napa Valley winery. Another is in printing and graphics. A third works for a roofing and gutter company. “He’s like, head of their gutter division,” says Steve, who keeps in close touch with them all.
“I’ve got to run a business. I’ve got to stay sharp,” says Steve, explaining why he rarely smokes pot anymore. “Seems like everybody I know who smokes daily, or many times in a week, it seems like there’s always something going wrong with their life, professionally, or in their relationships, or financially or something. It’s a lot of fun, but it seems like if someone does it too much, there’s some karmic cost to it.”
“I never endorsed the use of marijuana. But hey, it worked for me,” says Waldo Dave. “I’m sure on my headstone it’ll say: ‘One of the 420 guys.’”

Source: This article was originally published in 2009 by Ryan Grim on the Huffington Post website.

How to Make Your Own Hash


Reader submitted photo: Kief

In this article, we will teach you how to make hash out of your kief. Keep reading to find out how.

But, first. Hello everyone, if you’re new here we’d like to welcome you into the MJMB community.Recently, we got a question from one of our loyal fans asking us what the best use of his kief (or keef, either way is correct) would be. For anyone who is not familiar with the term, let me explain a little about what it is.

What is Kief?

When a marijuana plant reaches maturity in its growth cycle trichomes are formed on the leaves and buds of the plant. These trichomes contain THC at a higher concentration than any other part of the plant. The buds and the leaves also contain THC, but trichomes which are the kief is the most potent part of the plant.

The word kief is derived from the Arabic word kayf, which means well-being or pleasure. I’m sure that we will get into this at a later date, but for now let me get into what to actually do with your kief.


What can you do with Kief?
Once you have a substantial amount collected there are several great things you can do with it. The first and most obvious is to just smoke it as it is; it can be smoked alone in a pipe or bong, mixed with marijuana in a joint, sprinkled on top of a bowl pack, or mixed with tobacco in a spliff. You can also purchase a kief press and turn it in to a little brick (this is hash, keep reading for more details), which will make it easier to smoke in a bowl and also helps it to burn longer.

You can use it to make THC infused butter or oil to use in brownies, cookies, or any recipes that call for the use of butter or oil; like pop corn, toast, garlic “herb” butter for steak, and anything else you could imagine. Check the Food Network for more ideas, haha.

But, what is the best use for kief? Based on our experience in Amsterdam and Christiania (an area of the city of Copenhagen, Denmark) where hash is prevalent, we have concluded that the best use for kief would be pressing it into hash. Essentially, when you press kief and make it into a little ball or a little brick you are making hash, very pure and potent hash. Hash can be produced through many methods, put pressing kief produces some of the best tasting and most potent hash that you can find. The easiest way to do this would be to use a kief press, but there are other ways. You can simply take a small amount and roll it into a ball in between your palms, this method is very cheap but can be very sticky and messy. If you have about as much as is in the picture above (3+ grams), you can use the following Marijuana Myth Busters approved method.

Step 1:

Take a piece of wax paper about 20 inches long.

Step 2:

Put your kief in the center, and fold it in half.

Step 3:

Get and iron, turn it on the lowest setting.

Step 4:

Put a tshirt or thin towel over the wax paper.

Step 5:

Apply pressure with the iron for about 30 seconds.

If you don’t have an iron you can do any combination of things to simply press all the kief together (i.e. put it in a book and step on it), but the method listed above is by far the best small scale method out there. The heat helps the trichomes bind together, but make sure you don’t burn anything because in that case you will be wasting THC. If anyone has any questions, feel free to post them and we will address them as they come in.


Back to School: Marijuana Safety


With the majority, if not all, colleges back in session for the fall semester it struck us here at MJMB as a good time to share some of our knowledge about marijuana safety on college campuses. There are many obstacles a young marijuana connoisseur will encounter on the smallest campus, the largest, or any size in between. Your obvious opponents are the RA’s, of course, and, as always, the police or whatever equivalent security force operates at your college or university. It is our belief that your professors believe that every single one of their students smokes marijuana, in all likelihood many of them have, and the truth of the matter is that your professor probably smokes more weed than you do. So, the professors are not a threat. And, the college administration themselves are so far removed from the students that I would not worry about them either. Always keep your eyes open when you are smoking outside and be vigilant of who else is in the area.

So, what else is there to consider? Finding a location from the time I started smoking weed until the time I went to college was always the hardest thing to figure out logistically. When my parents dropped me off at college the first thing I did after they left was roll a blunt with my roommate and we smoked it right there in that room. It was a good feeling, but we thankfully recognized early on that there are some precautions that must be taken when things like this were going to go down.

  1. Before anything happens, the door needs to be locked. At a minimum you need to prevent draft by placing a towel at the base of the door. Covering the whole door with a sheet or blanket so all cracks are covered is even better.

I’m not a towel. You’re a towel”

  1. Make sure the air conditioner is off and that any fans you have are pushing air towards a window. Also, be aware of what is going on outside your window. Otherwise you might end up blowing a nice cloud of smoke into a cops face or some other horrific type of situation might occur.

There’s nothing witty to say about a fan.

  1. The most important rule of all… Stay in school, don’t be a fool, wrap your tool. If by tool you mean smoke detector. Setting off the smoke detector is the worst thing possible, the police and fire department will come into your room if you set one off. The best way to avoid that is to cover one with a garbage bag and then securing it with duct tape. When you are not smoking it is important to remove the “smoke condom” in order to prevent creating a fire hazard. In the worst case scenario, if the fire alarm goes off, try to fan it immediately, it might not trigger the alarms for the whole building, and you might get away with it. If the alarm continues to go off, put everything illegal that is in your room in a backpack, and start walking as far away as possible.

The infamous “smoke condom”. You get the idea now, right?

  1. Some other things you might want to consider would be using a spoof (dryer sheets shoved into a toilet paper roll that you exhale smoke into so it smells like dryer sheets), making sure to spray some nice smelling stuff after you smoke, and keeping all of your stuff in a safe which is secured to the floor or locked to a large piece of furniture.

A spoof. One of early man’s simple tools right up there with the lever and the wheel.

Depending on where you go to school, the repercussions of getting caught smoking the reefer will vary greatly. But, its just safer and easier to avoid it in general. Just be conscious of your surroundings, don’t draw attention to yourself, and smoke your damn weed. Of course, if anyone else has any suggestions for the peace loving, hippie college kids; feel free to post them as a comment. Questions are also welcome. And make sure to follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook.

Inside Out Joint


Just one of the many things that was smoked to celebrate on year of dedicated service to the marijuana smoking community. CHECK OUT THE MAGIC OF THE INSIDE OUT JOINT


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