April 18, 2014
A group of teenagers in San Rafael, California, calling themselves the Waldos began using the term in connection with a plan to search for an abandoned cannabis crop that they had learned about in autumn 1971. Although their typical "hang-out spot was a wall outside the school," the Waldos designated the Louis Pasteur statue on the grounds of San Rafael High School as their meeting place, and 4:20 p.m. as their meeting time. The Waldos referred to this initial plan with the phrase "4:20 Louis", but after multiple attempts to find the crop failed, the phrase evolved in form and use—shortened simply to "4:20", the teens increasingly relied on the codeword to refer to pot-smoking in general. High Times, particularly the editor Steven Hager, was responsible for bringing the Waldos story to a national audience. Hager called for 4:20 p.m. to be the socially accepted time of day to consume cannabis and attributed the early spread of the phrase to Grateful Dead followers, who were also linked to the city of San Rafael.