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The Origins Of 420: The Bebes & The Waldos
7 min

The Origins Of 420: The Bebes & The Waldos

7 min

If you've come here to find answers about 420—what it means and where it came from—you're in the right place. Shrouded in mystery and greatly loved, 420 sits somewhere between genuine celebration and universal in-joke for all stoners. Find out all about it here.

You’ve got Christmas, Easter, St Patrick’s Day, Passover, Labour Day and all manner of other holidays and special events, but none of them celebrate getting high. What’s that about? Fortunately, there’s also 420. But what is it exactly and how did it begin?

What 420 means

You probably already know that 420 has something to do with weed. You might know that it comes from the time 4:20 pm, and that April 20th (4/20 in the US) is world cannabis day—even if it’s not formally recognised as a holiday.

But do you know the origins of 420? This time and date have become synonymous with weed and stoner culture, and we rarely stop to ask why they exist or where they come from. There are many competing hypotheses which strive to explain the emergence of 420 as a cultural phenomenon, with some being pretty compelling, and others very far-fetched.

How 420 started

How 420 Started

So, what are those hypotheses? Below we’ll list some that haven’t made the cut for fully fledged theories, even though they are quite interesting.

  • Some believe that 420 referred to the number of chemical compounds present in the cannabis plant. Though this carries some weight, there are two issues with this theory. Firstly, there are over 500 compounds in the cannabis plant, and secondly, is this sexy or relatable enough to become a global phenomenon?

  • The idea that the 20th of April is the best time to plant cannabis seeds is more compelling. Of course, this in reality depends on where you live, and whether you’re growing indoors or outdoors. While there is nothing wrong with this proposal, it’s not the one most people opt for.

  • Others suggested that 420 is the code that police use to call in cannabis-related crime (presumably in the US). However, 420 is in fact used to call in homicide. Best not to think about that when you’re high!

  • Did you know that Adolf Hitler was born on the 20th of April? Given that he isn’t known to have loved a smoke, even if he was partial to a bit of meth[1], we can probably assume that 420 doesn’t have much to do with Hitler’s birthday.

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The Bebes and the Waldos

Enough speculation then, what are the generally accepted origins of 420? Though not proven, and it probably can’t be, the general consensus seems to be that 420 started to be used at San Rafael high school in sunny California (where else?).

There are two separate groups of friends who claim the right to call 420 the fruit of their own stoned genius. They call themselves the Bebes and the Waldos.

Meet the Bebes

Meet The Bebes

The Bebes are a friend group who proudly claim responsibility for the whole thing. Their explanation seems fairly simple: school finished at 4:20 and they would meet up, hang out and get high.

As time went on, they began to use 420 to refer to all things cannabis-related and it became their own little in-joke. Except, it clearly spread like wildfire, eventually making its way to every corner of the globe.

The Bebe

Known as The Bebe, Brad Bann is the man who started it all, and whose nickname eventually became the group's name.

  • Has spent most of his adult life touring as Frank Sinatra cover band's leader, as guitarist and singer.

  • He also records his own prank songs.

  • The Bebe still smokes weed from time to time, in honour of the old days.

Wild Du

Dave Dixon, or Wild Du is one of the original group members, and a long-time friend of The Bebe.

  • According to The Bebe himself, Wild Du was there from the moment 420 was uttered.

  • Du and The Bebe used to get in trouble together, once getting arrested for annoying construction workers.

  • The two of them formed the “420 band” and created many ridiculous songs together.

  • Du also sold knife sets to customers up and down the Californian coast.

  • He still lives in San Rafael and chills and smokes with the other Bebes from time to time.

  • He says that the Waldos, who also lay claim to the term 420, have admitted to him that their story is false, but that they won’t do it in public.

Puff

Dan Dixon, another long-time member and brother of Wild Du.

  • He is reported to have been highly popular at school.

  • Puff and The Bebe joined the army together after school and served in Germany.

  • He went on to coach basketball, and later became a caregiver and a pharmacy technician.

  • These days, he looks after his elderly mother-in-law and still smokes regularly.

  • He claims that the Waldos tried to recruit him in an effort to add credibility to their version of events.

Thorgy

A younger member of the Bebes, Tom Thorgensen was perhaps one of their most enthusiastic stoners.

  • Thorgy has loved weed since he was 12.

  • The story goes that his mother offered to help him grow weed, and in time he came to deal to the entire school and even became a top dealer in all of San Rafael. He has now ceased dealing.

  • These days, he works as a carpenter and enjoys life, still smoking and doing up old cars in his free time.

Hello Andy

Dave Anderson flitted between the houses of Du and Puff whilst he attended San Rafael high school, feeling completely at home with the Bebes.

  • Andy remembers The Bebe laughing into the mic, making up weird police code like: “One adam twelve. We have a 420 on 4th Street. Send 2 units. Over.” or doing things like picking up a rock, selecting something that happened to be around as a target, and saying: “Estimate angle 420.” before throwing it.

  • Later, Hello Andy delved into engineering, which is still his career today.

  • He’s now 57, lives in Sacramento, and tokes every now and then if he feels the need to celebrate (like at the Bebes’ 420 reunion).

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Bone Boy

All groups have them, and Bone Boy was theirs: the designated driver.

  • Whenever the Bebes were rolling after school hours, they were in Bone Boy’s glistening blue 1966 Plymouth Barracuda, where they would listen to The Doors, Hendrix, Zeppelin, and The Allman Brothers among others.

  • Bone Boy took the Bebes to all of their favourite smoke spots.

  • He claims that the teachers and staff at San Rafael High School held discussions about how to deal with the Bebes and their various high school shenanigans.

  • One day, when Bone Boy met up with The Bebe to hang out and smoke, The Bebe showed up driving a golf cart. Seeing the look on Bone Boy’s face, he assured him, “Don’t worry, nobody pays attention.”

  • Bone Boy had a long, successful career in music, and he’s now living in Huntington Beach, CA, aged 57.

The Worm

Little is known about the Worm, not even his real name; perhaps he likes the anonymity.

  • He hung out with The Bebes and goofed around with them during tackle football practice. The Worm had a prosthetic arm and The Bebe remembers him as “a real game person” saying “I love that guy.”

Blue

One half of the Blue Boys. The Bebe started calling the two younger Bebes “Blue Boys” and eventually the name stuck.

The Mead

The second half of the Blue Boys and Blue's brother.

  • One time, Hello Andy saw the Blue Boys getting together and whispering during football practice. They quickly walked up to the coach, looking innocent enough, and asked him for the time. When he replied “4:20”, they burst out in laughter and ran off, leaving coach without a clue as to what had just happened.

Turkey

Turkey wasn't a Californian native, and he certainly added a bit of a Southern vibe to the Bebes.

  • “You could recognize Turkey among a crowd of people by his twangy, Southern-bred accent”, The Bebe said. When he would hang out with the Bebes for too long, he'd yell “mah ass is grass” and then take off running home.

  • He also “had a mini bike that would go 42m/h, some of our first transportation”, said The Bebe.

Meet the Waldos

Meet The Waldos

The Waldos claim that it was in fact them who coined the term 420. Their story is a little different, and posits that they would meet at 4:20 pm to search for a suspected weed farm. Alas, they never did find it.

Waldo Steve

Waldo Steve, or Steve Capper, is now the owner of a specialty lending institution, and still keeps in touch with all the other Waldos.

  • At one point in his career he lost assets to Bernie Madoff, head of the largest Ponzi scheme on record in U.S. history.

  • A lot of his friends and some of the Waldos, though, Waldo Steve doesn’t smoke or have much to do with cannabis anymore, saying, “I’ve got to run a business. I’ve got to stay sharp… It’s a lot of fun, but it seems like if someone does it too much, there’s some karmic cost to it.”

Waldo Dave

Waldo Dave, or Dave Reddix, makes a good living working for Waldo Steve’s lending firm as a credit analyst.

  • He talks to all the other Waldos regularly but doesn’t really smoke anymore either, saying, “I never endorsed the use of marijuana. But hey, it worked for me…I’m sure on my headstone it’ll say, ‘One of the 420 guys.’”

Waldo Mark and the Other Two Waldos

Waldo Steve says Waldo Mark and the other two Waldos are doing well and living successful lives, still puffing joints or hitting a bong from time to time.

  • One of them, Waldo Steve says, makes a good living doing prints and designing graphics.

  • Another is the head of the marketing division of a winery in Napa Valley.

  • And one works as the head of the gutter division of a roofing company, living well and hitting a bong or joint when he can afford the time.

  • All of the Waldos keep in touch with each other to this day.

420 and 710

420 And 710

If you love 420 but feel like you could do with another time of day, or day of the year on which to celebrate getting high, you’re in luck!

710 was used as code when people wanted to buy cannabis oil. Why 710, you ask? Turn it upside down and the numerals form the word “OIL”. This quickly caught on and became synonymous with cannabis concentrates, many of which use oils.

So what is 710? Though nowhere near as famous as 420, hopefully it too will gain such cultural significance. 710 is all about celebrating the versatile and potent world of cannabis concentrates.

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How to celebrate 420

How To Celebrate 420

Get high, obviously!

But if you want to celebrate it in style, you can mark the special occasion by doing things a little differently.

Set Your Alarm

Before getting ahead of ourselves though, you mustn’t miss the moment. Just to be sure, set an alarm for 4:20 so you know exactly when to spark up. If you’re in a public space where everyone is celebrating, this may not be necessary. Perhaps just wait for people to light up their spliffs and simply join in.

Create Some Dank Edibles

Of course, you can smoke up at 4:20 any day, but if you want to make the 20th of April particularly special, why not make some edibles and spend the whole day high as a kite?

Super-potent and long-lasting, baked goods mean you can keep your high going all day. And the best part is that you can still smoke a spliff or rip a bong at 4:20 as well! It’s a win-win.

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Watch a Classic Stoner Movie

If you really want to celebrate the day, why not watch a classic stoner movie, such as “Cheech and Chong”? After day of heavy blazing, this could be the perfect way to finish the evening.

Browse 420 Deals Online

When 420 comes around, seed banks want to help you celebrate. That’s why on April 20th so many online retailers offer discounts on seeds, paraphernalia, merchandise, and more. When that hallowed date comes around, go online and see what deals you can grab!

Experiment With Weed

If you’ve been intending to try something new, 420 is the perfect occasion.

Whether it’s vaping, concentrates, a gravity bong, or just the biggest hit you’ve ever done, what day could be better than World Cannabis Day to try it on?

Every day is 420!

Every Day Is 420!

But you don’t have to wait till the 20th of April to do any of these things. If you love weed, you can celebrate your passion every day. After all, the term could have originated from 4:20 pm, so if you indulge daily, you’ll be honouring the true spirit of 420!

Max Sargent
Max Sargent
Max has been writing for over a decade, and has come into cannabis and psychedelic journalism in the last few years. Writing for companies such as Zamnesia, Royal Queen Seeds, Cannaconnection, Gorilla Seeds, MushMagic and more, he has experience in a broad spectrum of the industry.
Disclaimer:
We are not making medical claims. This article has been written for informational purposes only, and is based on research published by other externals sources.

External Resources:
  1. The Independent. https://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/hitler-was-regular-user-crystal-meth-american-military-intelligence-dossier-reveals-9789711.html. Published in 2021. Accessed: November 17, 2021. - https://www.independent.co.uk
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