From stoners to senators, “Happy 420” is a phrase uttered all over the world on the 20th of April in celebration of cannabis. 
But where did it start?
The phrase 420 was originally used by a group of American high school students in California as a code for smoking marijuana, which they often did together after class.
Twenty years later, one of the students, named Dave Reddix, revamped the idea and began distributing flyers inviting fellow stoners and activists to participate in sparking up a smoke at exactly 4:20 p.m. on the 20th of April.
The flyer was then picked up by High Times Magazine who reprinted it, advertising the event to a much wider audience, and the rest as they say is history.
Here at Releaf, we love to celebrate but we also love to educate. So we’ve created this 24 question quiz to help you achieve a higher education on 420.
Find out how much you really know about the history of hemp and the culture of cannabis below.
Grab a pen and paper and read on for the questions. Don’t forget to let us know how you did on Twitter once you’ve finished!
- What was the nick-name for the group of San Rafael High School students who are said to have started the 420 traditions?
- ‘The 420 Formation’
- ‘San Smokers’
- The ‘Waldos’
- Hemp was grown on the site of which nuclear disaster in order to decontaminate the soil?
- Which public body operates the specialist register that clinicians need to be on in order to prescribe medical cannabis treatments in the UK?
- Public Health England
- The General Medical Council
- The Food and Drug Administration
- Starring in ‘USA Road trip’ with his mum, which British comedian bought and consumed legal marijuana?
- Russell Howard
- Jack Whitehall
- Romesh Ranganathan
- Which of the following was nicknamed ‘The Godfather of Cannabis Research’?
- Professor Mike Barnes
- Professor Raphael Mechoulam
- Professor David Nutt
- It is believed that cannabis was first used for medicinal purposes in China by Emperor Shen-Nung between 2696 and 2737 BC, true or false?
- Which celebrity was buried with a bag of marijuana as per his request?
- Bob Marley
- Jimi Hendrix
- In what year was the infamous propaganda film ‘Reefer Madness’ made?
- On which date did the UK legalise medical cannabis based treatments for a variety of conditions?
- November 11th 2018
- November 1st 2018
- December 1st 2018
- Female cannabis plants contain more THC than male plants, true or false?
- When he was leaving Vietnam after serving in the American Air Force, which activist smuggled two pounds of cannabis back to the US in his duffel bag?
- Ken Gorman
- Dennis Peron
- Dana Beal
- Which official document is said to have first been drafted on hemp?
- The United States Constitution
- The Gettysburg Address
- The Louisiana Purchase
- Cannabis Sativa grows best in cold climates, true or false?
- Which British playwright is thought to have smoked cannabis after a 400 year old pipe was discovered on his property?
- J.B. Priestley
- Christopher Marlowe (AKA Kit Marlowe)
- William Shakespeare
- Across America more money was spent on Starbucks than on cannabis during 2021, true or false?
- Which of the following theories focuses on the way cannabinoids work together in order to give a rounded effect when consumed?
- The entourage effect
- The ensemble effect
- The domino effect
- What name was given to describe the economic impact that the legalisation of cannabis has created?
- The Cannabis Cash
- The Green Rush
- Budding Benefits
- Which actor revealed they use cannabis to relieve the pain they experience as a person with fibromyalgia?
- Morgan Freeman
- George Clooney
- Colin Firth
- Each year thousands of people gather to celebrate cannabis whilst protesting against the current possession laws in the UK in London’s Hyde Park, true or false?
- During the 1830’s, Irish doctor Sir William Brooke O’Shaugnessy discovered that cannabis extracts could relieve stomach pain and nausea for those suffering from which illness?
- What was the name of the first public cannabis dispensary in the US?
- The Dank Dispensary
- San Francisco Cannabis Buyers Club
- The California Cannabis Chiefs
- What percentage of Brits would take cannabis medicine if it was prescribed by their doctor?
- Hemp was grown on George Washington’s plantation, true or false?
- Which legendary boxer held a cannabis friendly music festival on this ranch in February 2019?
- Connor McGregor
- Mike Tyson
- Floyd Mayweather
1. The ‘Waldos’
In 1971, Dave Reddix, Larry Schwartz, Mike Gravich, Jeffery Noel and Steve Capper were a group of high school students known as the ‘Waldos’. The group named themselves this because they would always sit on the same wall at their school, impersonating their fellow classmates and teachers. 
The group would meet at 4:20pm by the San Rafael High School campus statue of Louis Pasteur, a chemist, to smoke cannabis together, a tradition they coined ’420’.
One of the ‘Waldos’, Dave Reddix, became a roadie for the Grateful Dead in the 1990s. The Deadheads handed out 420 flyers, encouraging people to smoke cannabis at 4:20pm on the 20th of April. This is a tradition that still stands today. 
After the 1886 explosion at The Chernobyl Power Plant in the Ukraine, the city of Pripyat was abandoned. Around 49,000 people were initially evacuated from the exclusion zone to escape the radioactive materials, a further 68,000 followed. 
After the International Atomic Energy Agency (IEAA) investigated the environmental impact of the disaster in 1990, it was decided that phytoremediation was the best solution. This is a process that involves growing beneficial plants in contaminated soil in order to draw out dangerous substances such as lead, nickel, chromium and copper. 
Since 1998 hemp has been one of the plants growing on the site of the Chernobyl explosion in order to purify the soil. Research scientist Slavik Dushenkov said:
“Hemp is proving to be one of the best phyto-remediative plants we have been able to find.” 
3. The General Medical Council
Founded in 1858, The General Medical Council (GMC) works with patients, doctors, educators and employers to ensure there is a high standard of care within the UK. Their Specialist Register was introduced in 1997 to keep track of doctor’s specialities. 
When cannabis-based products for medicinal use (CBPMs) were legalised in the UK in 2018, the prescription rights were restricted so that only doctors on the register would be able to prescribe. 
Doctors on the Specialist Register are not only responsible for prescribing medications, but also for continual medication efficacy monitoring, keeping up to date records and overseeing patient care with follow-ups. 
4. Russell Howard
The first episode of Russell Howard & Mum: USA Road Trip takes the pair to Portland, Oregon, where cannabis is legal for both medicinal and recreational purposes. 
After purchasing legal cannabis in an American dispensary, Russell and his mum joined Cammy, who works at the dispensary, and her mother Debbie at their home to enjoy their first legal purchase.
Having never tried cannabis before, Ninette Howard tried edibles and smoked a bong on camera. After the experience she said:
“My pain has gone. Miraculous, isn’t it?! 
5. Raphael Mechoulam
Professor Raphael Mechoulam is best known for his role in the isolation of THC for the first time. In 1964, Mechoulam and a fellow Professor, Yechiel Ganoi, identified and isolated the main psychoactive component in cannabis at the Weizmann Institute in Israel.
The discovery was made using 5 kg of cannabis given to them by the police, who had seized it from illegal sources.  Since this ground-breaking discovery in the 1960’s, Raphael Mechoulam continued to research cannabinoids and the body’s endocannabinoid system and was nominated for over 25 academic awards in his lifetime.
“I believe cannabinoids represent a medical treasure waiting to be discovered…I have spent most of my life decoding the mysteries to be found within this incredible plant.” 
Throughout his life, Emperor Shen-Nung experimented with medicines made from a variety of plants, animals and minerals and kept track of all his discoveries in a medical encyclopaedia named Pen Ts’ao.
Known as the Father of Chinese Medicine, Shen-Nung recorded his findings about cannabis plants, or ‘ma’ as he called them, in the Pen Ts’ao pharmacopoeia. From this we know that ‘Ma’ was used to treat constipation, malaria, gout, rheumatism as well as ‘female weaknesses’ and ‘absentmindedness’.
The emperor also discovered that the male species produced less medicinal benefits than the females, which led the Chinese to predominantly cultivate female plants. 
7. Bob Marley
In 1977 a malignant melanoma was found in his toe, but despite doctor’s recommendations Bob Marley refused to have it amputated due to religious reasons.
Within three years it is said that the cancer had spread throughout his body. After trying alternative treatments at a Bavarian Clinic with little results, Marley decided he wanted to return home to Jamaica. 
Whilst on route to Jamaica Bob Marley passed away in Miami on the 11th of May 1981. After his body was transported to his birthplace, Nine Mile in the Saint Ann Parish, the music legend was buried in his bronze casket alongside his Gibson Les Paul Guitar, a football, a bible and some marijuana. The items are said to have been placed in the coffin by Rita, his widow, at the end of the funeral ceremony. 
The film was designed in 1936 by a Church group as a morality tale to teach children about the dangers of cannabis use, which they titled Tell Your Children. 
One year later the 1937 Marihuana Tax Act was put into effect in America, which taxed the sale of cannabis as well as influencing the criminalization process that subsequently occurred. Reflecting social anxieties and concerns around drug policy at the time of its production, this exploitation movie later served a very different purpose. 
In 1972 the leader or the National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws, Kenneth Stroup began utilising the film in his work, presenting it as a cult comedy due to its widely inaccurate depictions of cannabis use and obvious anti-marijuana agenda.
1. November 1st, 2018
In June 2018 a review of cannabis-based treatment options in the UK was launched by the Home Secretary, Savid Javid. After considering this, along with information given by the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs and from the Chief Medical Officer, Javid announced the UK would change its stance on medical cannabis. 
Less than a month before it came into law, gov.uk released an article explaining the news. It reads:
“Patients can be prescribed medicinal cannabis by specialist doctors from 1 November 2018. For the first time in the UK, expert doctors have been given the option to legally issue prescriptions for cannabis-based medicines when they agree that their patients could benefit from this treatment.” 
Much like humans, cannabis plants are made up from their parent’s genetics, getting half from their mother and half from their fathers.
Typically, female plants contain higher concentrations of CBD and THC, these are mainly found in the flowers.  These cannabinoids can also be found in male plants, just in much smaller quantities.
If a male cannabis plant is grown for long enough it will start to produce cannabinoids, but this can prove to be dangerous for neighbouring female plants. Once a male plant releases its pollen and fertilises the flowers on female plants, the female’s resin production ceases and it begins to produce seeds instead. 
11. Dennis Peron
Born in 1945, Dennis Peron is most well known for being an influential American activist.
As a leader in the legalisation of cannabis movement, co-founder of the San Francisco Cannabis Buyers Club and co-writer of the California Proposition 215, which legalised medical marijuana in 1996, Dennis Peron has been referred to as ‘The father of medical marijuana’. 
Dennis started smoking cannabis at the age of 17 and continued to do so whilst serving in the American Air Force. Upon his return to the states, Dennis smuggled two pounds of Vietnamese cannabis back with him. 
In an interview with Leafly.com he said:
“I came back and kissed the ground. I was so happy – partly because I had two pounds with me. That started a career that would span 40 years.” 
12. The United States Constitution
There is a prominent urban legend that believes the official United States Constitution was written on hemp paper. This is not true. We know that the finalised copy, now housed in the National Archives, was copied out onto vellum parchment, made from sheepskin. 
However, it is commonly accepted and believed that draft copies of the United States Constitution were penned on paper made from hemp, as it was the most common form of paper during the time period.
It is believed that along with the US Constitution, the Declaration of Independence was also drafted on hemp paper. Historians believe that between 75% and 90% of the paper across the globe was made from cannabis hemp fibre up until around 1883. 
Cannabis Sativa requires a warmer climate than Cannabis Indica does to grow effectively, normally requiring a humidity level of between 40% and 60%. 
Originally from Central Asia, these plants require different temperatures at different points in their life cycle. Whilst in the vegetative stage cannabis plants thrive in temperatures between 20-25 °C, but once they have started to flower any temperature between 18°C and 29°C is ideal. 
Cold climates can harm cannabis plants, both above and beneath the ground. If the soil temperature drops below 16°C the roots can be damaged, which in turn can lead to an unhealthy plant with stunted growth. Above ground, in cold temperatures the plants run the risk of frost damage. 
14. William Shakespeare
After the discovery of tobacco pipes in William Shakespeare’s back garden, scientists tested the 400-year-old pieces for remaining residue and found traces of cannabis. 
The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust loaned 24 fragments to a South African University, The University of Witwatersrand, for them to be tested. By using gas chromatography and mass spectrometry, scientists discovered evidence of cocaine, cannabis and tobacco use. 
Of the 24 fragments that were sent to South Africa, 8 had cannabis residue on them and half of these had been found on Shakespeare’s property.
The pieces found in Stratford Upon Avon were originally tested back in 2001 by anthropologist Francis Thackeray, who later in 2015 published a paper explaining his findings in The South African Journal of Science. 
It was revealed by MJBizDaily that in 2021 the US sales of legal cannabis eclipsed those of the Starbucks Corporation by billions. 
The report showed that during 2021, Starbucks total sales amounted to around $20.5 billion, whilst the cannabis industry, both recreational and medical, raked in between $24.5 billion to $27 billion.
Despite cannabis only being legalised in 39 states at the time of the report, its total sales still managed to surpass those of America’s favourite coffee shop – which at the time had more than 15,000 store locations across the US. 
16. The entourage effect.
There are over 120 different cannabinoids that naturally occur in cannabis plants, known as phytocannabinoids.  After being consumed, these phytocannabinoids can influence several different functions within the body, for example THC is known to boost the appetite, whilst CBD is known to aid sleep disorders. 
The entourage effect is the term used to describe the way individual phytocannabinoids and the plants natural terpenes work together synergistically within the body to achieve a well-rounded effect upon the consumer.
Raphael Mechoulam and Shimon Ben-Shabat are the chemists behind this widely accepted theory. A paper published in the Current Neuropharmacology Journal in 2020 explains:
“The ‘entourage effect’, is the suggested positive contribution derived from the addition of terpenes to the effect of cannabinoids. This means that the entirety of the effect is greater than the sum effects of its contributing parts.” 
17. The Green Rush
With the name paying homage to the 1800s Gold Rush,  the Green Rush is an American and Canadian term that encompasses all economic areas of the cannabis industry from cultivation to consumption.
The Green Rush is said to have commenced in December 2012 when Washington and Colorado became the first US states to legalise recreational cannabis. At this time medical cannabis was already legal in 18 states .
Maximum Yield described The Green Rush as:
“Having a major impact on the economies of states where marijuana has been legalised. It is only a matter of time before all states benefit from the rush.” 
18. Morgan Freeman
After shattering his left shoulder, arm and elbow in a gruesome car accident in 2008, the Hollywood actor has been very open about using cannabis to manage the chronic pain he suffers as a result. 
Morgan Freeman told The Daily Beast:
“Marijuana has many useful uses. I have fibromyalgia pain in this arm, and the only thing that offers any relief is marijuana. They’re talking about kids who have grand mal seizures, and they’ve discovered that marijuana eases that down to where these children can have a life. That right there, to me, says ‘Legalise it across the board’!” 
According to the NHS, nearly 1 in 20 people suffer from fibromyalgia, a condition that causes intense pain all over the body.  Freemans’s fibromyalgia mainly affects the nerves in his arm and explains why the star is often seen wearing a compression glove. 
Hyde Park in London has been the home of many demonstrations over the years, from the first ever Suffragette march and rally in 1908  to the 50,000 workers and teachers that gathered to strike against unfair pay in March 2023 , this location plays an important role in British history.
Every year on the most important day in the cannabis calendar, thousands gather at Hyde Park on the 20th of April to consume recreational cannabis. As cannabis is still classified as a Class B drug in the UK, the police are present each year – albeit peripherally.
In 2022 the Metropolitan Police said the following regarding Hyde Park’s World Cannabis Day Celebrations:
“It’s important that people have the right to peacefully protest, it is also important that there are consequences for those who break the law. Officers will focus efforts on people committing serious offences.” 
William Brooke O’Shaughnessy worked for the East India Company as an assistant surgeon in the 1830s. Whilst based in India, he began conducting medical cannabis experiments involving hemp oil on his patients and animals.
O’Shaughnessy’s article on the effects of Indian hemp was published in the Provincial Medical Journal on the 4th of February 1834. Here he detailed the results of his experiments as follows:
“An epidemic cholera prevailing at this period, two of the students administered the tincture of hemp in several cases of that disease, and cures were daily reported by its alleged efficacy…. Thirty drops of the tincture every half hour will be often found to check the vomiting and purging and bring back warmth to the surface. My experience would here lead me to prefer small doses of the remedy in cholera in order to excite rather than narcotise the patient.” 
21. San Francisco Buyers Club
The first public dispensary in the United States was opened by Dennis Peron and his husband John Entwistle in 1992. The San Francisco Buyers Club opened a year after a recommendation to the State of California to embrace medical cannabis was made, known as Proposition P. 
Initially created as a low-profile store that offered medical marijuana options to patients living with HIV/AIDS, head of security, Wayne Justmann, revealed that by 1996 the club had over 7,000 members. 
Inspired by Dutch coffee shops, the San Francisco Buyers Club was originally located at 194 Church Street, where a cannabis collective run by Thomas O’Malley had previously been based. 
A survey conducted by Populus in 2018 discovered that 76% of respondents would take cannabis medicine if prescribed by their doctor. It found 81% of 18–24-year-olds would use medical cannabis, as would 74% of the over 65 age range. 
Data that was published in 2020 also shows that the decision to legalise some cannabis-based medicines was strongly supported by 45% of British adults, with a further 32% of respondents agreeing they supported this to an extent. In comparison, only 3% answered ‘tend to oppose’ and 1% said they strongly opposed. 
The 1st President of the United States, George Washington, cultivated hemp on every farm within his Mount Vernon estate. Initially interested in the plant for its economic benefits which were believed to exceed those of tobacco, the founding father ended up using its fibres to maintain his own land. 
Some examples of how these hemp fibres were used include making thread in order to sow produce sacks, ropes, canvas and for repairing fishing nets.
George Washington lived on his plantation for 40 years until his death in 1799. The estate was opened to the public in 1830 and since then this historical landmark has welcomed over 96 million visitors. 
24. Mike Tyson
The Kind Music Festival was held on the 23rd of February 2019 at Tyson Ranch in California’s Desert Hot Springs.
Designed as an ‘embracing cannabis’ concert, the festival took place on the 400-acre site that Mike Tyson eventually plans on turning into a cannabis friendly hotel resort.
With the ‘Chillville’ bean bag station, breakdance performers, live music and plenty of food and drink options, the inaugural event was attended by thousands.
A dollar of each ticket sale was donated to Standing United, a non-profit organisation that helps Americans facing homelessness and drug addictions.