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420: The World’s Totally Unofficial Pot Smoking Holiday

It’s 420—the day that’s become an unofficial holiday for marijuana-enthusiasts around the world. This year will be no different—though a few more far-fetched 2012 conspiracy theories may be passed around.

Why is April 20 so important to pot smokers? The reasons are a bit cloudy. Rumors include everything from the number 420 being a police radio code to the number of active chemicals in a marijuana plant.

But the real origin of the number’s affiliation with cannabis dates back to the 1970s, according to the Huffington Post. A group of friends from San Rafael High School in California heard about a large crop of pot plants at a nearby Coast Guard property and planned go reap a major harvest. The meeting time to start their adventure? 4:20 p.m.—after sports practice and school.

It’s not exactly as mind-blowing an origin story as a pothead might dream up. And the friends reportedly never found the crop—maybe because they got stoned on the way—but they did start a new code name for smoking up. Today, many will be burning one down despite the fact that in most places using marijuana is illegal. Call it our edgiest holiday, even if the goal maybe to, well, take the edge off.