The Original Flier That Sparked the 420 Phenomenon

Former Freedom Leaf senior editor Chris Goldstein interviewed editor-in-chief Steve Bloom about the origins of how the number 420 became synonymous with cannabis in 2016. Bloom was the first journalist to write about 420 when he worked at High Times in the 1990s.

You claim to have discovered 420. How did that happen?

The last week of 1990 I went to several Grateful Dead shows at the Oakland Coliseum. I was walking in the parking lot and someone handed me a half-page flier. It had this message that people should smoke together at 4:20 and on 4/20. I brought it back to High Times in New York. We passed it around the office and everyone got a kick out of it. I was news editor at the time, so I transcribed the flyer and published it in the May 1991 issue. My little write up in High Times was the first time “420” got any national publicity.

What did the flier say?

“Four-twenty started in San Rafael, CA in the late ’70s. It started as police code for Marijuana Smoking in Progress. After local heads heard of the police call they started using the expression ‘420’ when referring to the herb—‘Let’s go

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