Thursday, March 5, 2009

420 is the Number of Chemicals in Marijuana

The Legend:  There are 420 chemicals in marijuana.

Status:  False

  • '420' in drugspeak is the time to light up a joint.
  • '420' is the penal code section for marijuana use in California. (Nope. Section 420 of the California Penal Code refers to obstructing entry onto public land.)
  • '420' is the Los Angeles and New York police radio code for marijuana smoking in progress. (Nope, again.)
  • '420' is the number of chemical compounds in marijuana. (The number of chemical compounds in marijuana is around 315.)
  • April 20 is the date that Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix or Janis Joplin died. (Nope once more. Morrison died on July 3, Hendrix on September 18, and Joplin on October 4.)
  • The 20th of April is the best time to plant marijuana.
  • Albert Hofmann took the first LSD trip at 4:20 or on April 20, 1943. (Actually, Hofmann's first LSD trip, which was accidental, took place on April 16, 1943.  Coincidentally, his lab notes from that day say it was at 4:20 p.m.)
  • '420' is the code you send to your drug dealer's pager.
  • When the Grateful Dead toured, they always stayed in Room 420. (Untrue, says Grateful Dead Productions spokesman Dennis McNally.)

Just about everyone has heard that '420' (said "four-twenty") has something to do with pot smoking, but they never seem to know what the term actually signifies.

It is said that '420' originated in 1971 as a slang term used by a small group of high school kids, reminding each other of the time they planned to meet after school to get high, 4:20 p.m.  This was supposedly started at San Rafael High School in California, but there is no way to verity this.

'420' is now widely accepted pot-smoking lexicon. Cities celebrate "hemp fests" on April 20. There's a 4:20 record label, a band called 4:20, a snowboard company called Four 20, and texting '420' means marijuana. Atlanta's Sweetwater Brewing Co. sells its 420 Pale Ale in supermarkets and opens its doors to the public at 4:20 p.m. New York's 420 Tours sells low-cost travel packages to the Netherlands and Jamaica. Highway 420 Radio broadcasts "music for the chemically enhanced," and so on. 420s are also routinely slipped into popular movies and television shows, and can probably be found in your local graffiti, so keep your eyes peeled. It's everywhere.

As amusing as it is to tie 420 to pot smoking and hunt for it in popular movies, the number has its dark side. Hitler was born on April 20, 1889, and the massacre of 13 victims at Columbine High School in Colorado took place on April 20, 1999.