420 Stories – Waldos, Bebes…and Murder?


In life, we have religious holidays like Christmas or Kwanza. We have governmental holidays like Independence Day, or Memorial Day. And then there are those holidays that aren’t really holidays, that we’ve made into holidays, like Black Friday, or April Fool’s Day, or 420. In honor of 420 this year, let’s take a look at two stories, and a possible dark third option. When it comes to 420, it’s all about the Waldos, the Bebes, and maybe even murder.

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What exactly is 420?

420, while not an official holiday anywhere, is one of the most universally celebrated days, as it is not particular to a specific country, religion, or ethnic group. Though there isn’t an official name for this unofficial holiday aside from simply ‘420’, one could call it ‘National Cannabis Awareness Day’, or ‘International Cannabis Culture Day’. Some use the day to smoke themselves silly. Some use the day to take part in illegalization protests, or friendly marijuana-centered gatherings. Regardless of how its done, everyone in the world knows that April 20th, is the day of cannabis.

420 has been a term to denote cannabis for quite some time, but prior to the internet, and the easier transmission and finding of information, the original 420 stories were not only buried, but often confused, or just plain wrong. There has been misinformation floating around about that story for decades.

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Some think its a code to denote marijuana possession by law enforcement – (nope, doesn’t exist), others are pretty sure that there was a California senate bill about cannabis called 420 (this DOES exist, but got its name from the original story, not the other way around), and still others believe it refers in some way to a dead rock icon like Jimi Hendrix or Bob Marley, but neither died or was born on that day.

420 Stories: The story of the Waldos

The most popular story behind what we celebrate today, while almost mundane, is actually pretty cool when you consider we are still not only using the term, but that it skyrocketed from a joke between friends, to one of the most well-known terms used internationally in any category. The first thing to know about this story is that while we write it as 4/20 – which looks like a calendar date, and is treated that way too, it really should be 4:20.

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Is this a coincidence, or did the term 420 have at least a little to do with homicide codes and cannabis linked to violent crimes? It’s hard to say. But considering all the connections that were built between murder and cannabis, its not that strange to think. To be clear, neither group in San Rafael have ever mentioned anything about this. But the original published story that came out through the flyer, seemed to be based on a misinformed story about police codes, which certainly makes it questionable.

420 Stories: Conclusion

The truth is, like it not, nothing was ever proven for sure about 420 regarding the Waldos or the Bebes. These are all just claims really, with some old letters saved by the former group in a sad effort to prove its point…as if simply having these letters would prove the coining of a term. The current story about the Waldos is a great one, but it sure doesn’t explain why the first written version of it, gave an entirely different reason for its beginning, and this makes the group’s claim questionable in my eyes.

If there is a question as to why people think 420 is a police code, its because it was the first story put out in High Times in 1991, via a flyer that told this version. How that came to be, if we’re still missing the real story, or if a mistake was made along the way, we just don’t know.

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Beth Edmonds