4/20: The history and how to celebrate virtually


James Wyatt / Golden Gate Xpress

The impact the war on drugs has had on Black and Brown communities is still prevalent today. According to the Center for American Progress, about one-fifth of the American federal prison population is serving time for drug charges.

Kerasa Dimitrios Tsokas, Opinion Editor

If you haven’t noticed yet, today is April 20. If you don’t smoke marijuana, today is Monday which is a sign your work/school week has begun. However, for potheads around the world, today is a (unofficial) national holiday.

We can thank five California teenagers in 1971 for bringing us the 4/20 tradition.

The Waldos heard of a Coast Guard member that planted marijuana but never tended to it. The five teens were given a map to the supposed plant’s location (apparently, back in the 1970s, being a pirate was the only way to get weed). Since they were all athletes, they met up everyday after practice at 4:20 p.m. to hunt for this free marijuana treasure. 

While they never found the marijuana, 4/20 became a phrase used to talk about weed without alerting their parents or teachers. Members of the rock band, Grateful Dead, knew the Waldos which popularized the term 4/20 and its relation to marijuana. 

This year, 4/20 is going to look different for everyone since Californians have been issued to stay at home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In San Francisco, the unofficial tradition is to go to Golden Gate Park’s Hippie Hill and smoke on the Robin Williams Meadow surrounded by thousands of other marijuana enthusiasts.  

“We will not tolerate anyone coming to San Francisco for 4/20 this year,” said San Francisco’s mayor London Breed at a City Hall briefing on April 13. 

Breed said Robin Williams Meadow will be fenced off and that police will be patrolling the area. That the city will cite and, if need be, arrest people. 

“Stay home this year and save lives,” said SFPD on April 17 via Twitter. Backing Breed’s statement, the tweet mentioned how all 4/20 events in Golden Gate Park and across the whole city have been cancelled. 

Cannabis clubs around the Bay Area have organized live, virtual 4/20 sessions for potheads to still come together and enjoy the day. 


Below is a linked list of the virtual 4/20 sessions. 

“The Great American Sesh In”

This is organized by Mangolia in Oakland. All proceeds made during the session will go towards Direct Relief, a charity that provides protective equipment to health workers. 

“Higher Together”

This event is organized by Weedmaps. All proceeds made during this session will go to Last Prisoner Project, a nonprofit organization focused on repairing the harms of criminalization of marijuana. 

“Urbana House Party” 

This event organized by Urbana in San Francisco requires you to sign up prior to joining however it is four days of free virtual events. All proceeds made during this session will go towards the San Francisco-Marin Food Bank.