The story began back in San Francisco with five high school stoners who called their group the “Waldos” – a term coined by American comedian Buddy Hackett to describe odd people.
One day, a non-Waldo classmate approached the five Waldos with an unusual tale and a hand drawn map. The classmate pointed to a location on the map that supposedly was a marijuana garden in the nearby Point Reyes National Seashore. He told the Waldos that the cannabis crop belonged to his brother-in-law, adding that the brother-in-law was paranoid of being exposed, but said the Waldos were welcome to the marijuana.
The five Waldos excitedly made plans to find the weed. After school that same day — at 4:20pm – they met and piled into one of their cars, lit up some joints, and drove the 45 minutes to the map’s location. Unfortunately, they didn’t find the crop that day, but vowed to keep searching. From that point on, they would use the code “420” when making plans to meet and go search for their pot of gold – always at 4:20pm.
Although the crop was never found, “420” became their code for meeting and getting high, not just at 4:20pm, but at any time, day or night. There was good reason why the Waldos were so secretive about their weed use: Back in 1971, smoking marijuana was taboo everywhere and people were going to prison after being caught with even small amounts. Plus, one of the Waldos had a father who was a narcotics agent for the California Department of Justice!