why does 420 mean pot?
April 28, 2004 11:47 AM   Subscribe

I've been wondering... where did the term "420" come from, and how did it come to popularity? Most of all, why do folks on Craigslist think they can ask for it / advertise that they have it, without getting busted?
posted by vignettist to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

I always thought it was a police code (like 187 or 304 murder and prostitution, respectively), but that appears to be untrue.
posted by jmgorman at 12:02 PM on April 28, 2004

Confirmation. Ain't tha intarweb a wonderful resource?
posted by squealy at 12:05 PM on April 28, 2004

Dude like my friend totally knows this guy who saw a sign on the highway that says "If you think it's dry now wait till next month."

why do folks on Craigslist think they can ask for it / advertise that they have it, without getting busted?

Because, dude, it is just pot. Truthfully, most cops have a lot more to worry about then tracking down and busting a few small dealers. They are much more interested in suppliers.

Theory number two of mine is that cops in cities, especially big cities, don't care about cannabis use. Case and point, I have been to parties in the conservative upperclass suburbs where cops have come and gone "We're going to walk around and if we smell pot you're all busted, otherwise just continue your party", and in cities where cops have come in laughed at the fact the house smelled like pot and told us to keep it down and we'd be fine.

So I guess what I'm trying to say is that in my experience,, if the cops have more important things to do (make sure there's no drive by shootings) then they don't care... even laugh at... soft drug use. If cops are in the morally superior suburbs then they better bust a teen, ruin his or her chances of getting federal funding for college, and create a big hassle for him or her. Of course your mileage will very depending on the cop, the circumstances and how much you look like you also sell crack.

Anyone else want to reinforce these generalizations?
posted by geoff. at 12:20 PM on April 28, 2004

Wikipedia to the rescue.

Perhaps adding a link to wikipedia along with a "google it first" warning on the posting page would be of use?
posted by fvw at 1:24 PM on April 28, 2004

So where on CL do these posts appear? Just curious, ya know?
posted by mojohand at 1:27 PM on April 28, 2004


And, oddly, Cecil hasn't addressed it on The Straight Dope. No pun intended.
posted by The Michael The at 1:32 PM on April 28, 2004

"So where on CL do these posts appear?"

Search cl.org for an example if you dare, but a vast majority seem to be personals listings in which a skeezy guy wants to share his stash with a chick -- any chick -- if she will put out.

The term is so widespread at this point, I would be surprised if it did NOT appear in such a forum.
posted by majick at 1:51 PM on April 28, 2004

Response by poster: Thank you, all.
posted by vignettist at 3:17 PM on April 28, 2004

It's the greatest non-injoke injoke ever. It's a constant punchline at work (e.g., receiving an email at 4:19 that simply asks, "Got a minute?") because the idea the police haven't cracked that case yet is hilarious. If you keep an eye out, you'll notice it everywhere (like the alarm clock advertised in the Sky Mall catalog on SouthWest airlines last year).
posted by yerfatma at 3:43 PM on April 28, 2004

Wow, 420 has a drug related meaning? Who knew? Me, I just thought it was 42, ten times. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Ok, really...it's that I'm secretly a Kabballah Master, a secret devotee of Aleister Crowley, and 420 is the numeric value, in Hebrew...of course...of the word smoke. ooooh, I'm so spooky, no?

But stoned? Not me. I would never. Those pictures that look like me juggling fire naked at Burning Man...not me. Also, the Rainbow Festival, that wasn't me either. I wasn't even near the place. I would certainly never try to reenact the the exploits of Pearly Sweetcakes in front of a crowd of hundreds.

Oh, how things have changed since I got pregnant, gave birth and realized that someday I would have to give the drug talk. But I swear, it wasn't me. I didn't inhale. Or have sex with that woman. Wasn't me, baby...wasn't me.
posted by dejah420 at 5:56 PM on April 28, 2004

Heh. I'd never read Pearly Sweetcakes before... Thanks, Dejah.
posted by SpecialK at 6:37 PM on April 28, 2004

From what I know about Craig, and the CL team, they try to tamp down all the 420 references they can that seem to be actual dealers, but give people a lot of leeway with the "herb-friendly" chatter. If you notice a lot of it and it seems skeevy/dealer-y or whatever, you can usually flag the postings and they'll get yanked.
posted by jessamyn at 7:20 PM on April 28, 2004

Heh. I'd never read Pearly Sweetcakes before...

I have the vinyl of Shel Silverstein reading it...I adore Shel. :)
posted by dejah420 at 9:25 PM on April 28, 2004

Weird that wikipedia, at least, doesn't mention it (I'll have to add that), but the first ever ingestion of LSD was at 4:20 PM, in 1942.
posted by Tlogmer at 4:49 PM on April 30, 2004

And what are the odds that's bullshit?
posted by yerfatma at 7:32 AM on May 2, 2004

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