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Malnutrition, disease and the misfortunes of everyday life had accounted for no less than four hundred and twenty of them by the time I became conscious of their existence; although it is possible to hypothesize that these deaths, too, had their purpose, since 420 has been, since time immemorial, the number associated with fraud, deception and trickery." (Comet 2/14/98) Comet's "best guess is that this refers to something in Indian mythology or numerology, since the book is set in India and frequently involves Indian history, culture, and religion.
Given the high interest in Eastern religion among the phish/dead community, this seems a likely origin of 420's current significance." Temporal Significance: "Hands on analog clock at look like position of doobie dangling from mouth" "Larry in Tuscan" and Alex Mack 5/19/99).
One state does come close: "The Illinois Department of Revenue classifies the Alcoholic Liquor Act under Part 420, and the Cannabis and Controlled Substances Tax Act are next, under Part 428." (RB 5/19/99) True story?
: "According to Steven Hager, editor of High Times, the term 420 originated at San Rafael High School, in 1971, among a group of about a dozen pot-smoking wiseacres who called themselves the Waldos.
Checks of criminal codes (including those of the City of San Francisco, the City of Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, the State of California, and the federal penal code) suggest that the origin is neither Californian nor federal (the two best guesses).
For instance, California Penal Code 420 defines as a misdemeanor the hindrance of use ("obstructing entry") of public lands, and California Family Code 420 defines what constitutes a wedding ceremony (Marco).
The term 420 was shorthand for the time of day the group would meet, at the campus statue of Louis Pasteur, to smoke pot.
Some are more likely uses of the 420/hemp connection rather than sources of it, such as the score for the football game in Fast Times at Ridgement High, 42-0. Sixties Songs: For instance, Bob Dylan's famous "Rainy Day Women #12 and 35" is a possible reference, or source -- 12x35=420.
Older Verse: But 420 in poetry is older than that - Greg Keller notes the old nursery rhyme line, "four and twenty black birds baked in a pie".
Revelation (in the King James Version of the Christian Bible) reads, "And the four beasts said 'A-Men.' And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped him that liveth for ever and ever." (Travis Spurley 2/15/99) And in Midnight's_Children, Salman Rushdie wrote, "Inevitably, a number of these children failed to survive.
They never found the patch, but the numbers 420 did become a useful code for them to communicate with each other.
“I could say to one of my friends, I’d go, ‘420,’ and it was telepathic. ’ It was kind of telepathic just from the way you said it,” Steve Capper, one of the five, told The Huffington Post.