420 Originators Tell How it All Started Fifty Years Ago

420 originators tell how it all started fifty years ago at San Rafael High School and in the scenic mountains of Marin County, California.


Known as the Waldos, five high school friends met after school at 4:20 to then go off and search for an abandoned cannabis patch that was planted then abandoned on Point Reyes Peninsula by a member of the U.S. Coast Guard. 


“We never found the marijuana patch but we had a blast searching for it!” said Steve Capper who along with his friend of five decades and fellow Waldo, Dave Reddix, shared many of the Waldos’ escapades in this fascinating interview.

420 Originators

Mark Gravich
Jeff Noel
Steve Capper (with vape pen)
Dave Reddix (holding 1971 rolling papers)
Larry Schwartz

Their secret code had started off as “420 Louie” because they met on the high school campus near a statue of Louis Pasteur. It was later shortened to 420, which became the Waldos’ private joke and eventually the most important term in the lexicon of American weed culture.  

When the Waldos were in high school in the early ‘70s, California was the epicenter of a cultural explosion of rock-n-roll, weed, and anti-war protests. Capper and Reddix explain that their 420 code word was one of many other catchphrases co-created by the five Waldos.

Little did they know that their youthful antics and adventures would spawn not only a national movement but eventually a full-fledged cannabis holiday.


“It’s really amazing that what started out as a secret code amongst ourselves spread around the world,” Reddix said.


The Waldos Today

The five men, all in their sixties with wives, families, and careers, are still the best of friends, constantly in touch and still hiking and biking in the hills of Marin and Sonoma counties. 


What does 420 mean to the Waldos today?

It’s still about enjoying weed and not getting arrested for doing so. 

“But 420 is mostly about friendship, family, solidarity, and love,” both Capper and Reddix agree and speak for the Brotherhood of the Waldos.

Happy 420!