Friday, April 21, 2006

The Low Down on 420

Today my 10:00 class had a lot of absences. When I asked my students if something was going on, one replied that maybe people were wasted from yesterday. Why yesterday I asked? The reply came: "420". What's that? A student explained that 4/20 was a day to smoke pot and that it also had some connection with Columbine and was some sort of police code when they were going to make a bust.

Well the truth is a bit less interesting. According to, (, the authority on urban legends and slang, "420" began among a group of high schoolers to signify the time of day when they could light up...and I don't mean cigs either. Somehow this spread and the meaning shifted to the date April 20 rather than 4:20 pm aided by an unfortunate set of coincidences; for instance 4/20 is the birth day of Hitler and yes it was the day of the Columbine massacre.

All the other baggage supposedly related to 420- that is some sort of police code is not true. Oh yes Albert Hofmann took his first intentional LSD trip at 4:20 on 19 April 1943, having previously accidently taking LSD isolated from the fungus that produced it.

So have a nice 420 tommorrow, whatever your trip.

Other links:

A Conversation with Albert Hoffmann

NIDA Infofacts: LSD( You trust the government right?
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