San Francisco’s 420 Celebration Becomes a Digital COVID Fundraiser After Being Canceled

April 20th, otherwise known as 4/20, is an annual celebration for marijuana. There are many legends on how 4/20 became the numerical code to represent weed, but one of the most popular is centered around California’s very own Marin County.

According to an article from the Huffington Post, in 1971, five San Rafael High School students devised a secret code which they used to indicate to each other that they would meet later in the day (at 4:20 pm) to smoke marijuana.

The time, “Started as the police code for Marijuana Smoking in Progress. After local heads heard of the police call, they started using the expression 420 when referring to herb – Let’s Go 420, dude!”

The Marin students: Steve Capper, Dave Reddix, Jeffrey Noel, Larry Schwartz and Mark Gravich would freely use the term without fear of teachers, parents, or other adults overhearing their plans.

Almost 50 years later, both the term and date have reached new heights of popularity. So much so, that Mayor London Breed specifically made an announcement asking people not to go to “Hippie Hill”, a common area for smoking, to celebrate.

“Do not come to San Francisco on 4/20 to Robin Williams Meadow. We will not allow this unsanctioned even to occur this year, especially in the height of a pandemic,” Breed said.

Unwilling to let the celebrations go unnoticed this year, there will be a virtual Great American Sesh In on various platforms. As stated online, “The Great American Sesh In is an online cannabis, music, and arts festival designed to flatten the 4/20 curve, benefitting COVID-19 first responders.”

All are welcome to live stream on twitch, or join the “zoom boom room dance party” on zoom from 11 am – 6 pm, with a full lineup or performers, guests and more.

The Great American Sesh In explains on their website that they are “proud to donate our proceeds to the heroes at Direct Relief (COVID-19 Relief) who have tirelessly and courageously mobilized to fight the pandemic by:

  • Providing assistance in the form of personal protective equipment (PPE) for health workers

  • Building an ICU medication model and mobilizing private resources to build a stockpile to assist with anticipated spike in ICU patients

  • Boosting support to safety-net facilities to address existing chronic gaps

  • Collaborating with infectious disease epidemiologists, technology companies and public agencies to use aggregated mobility data to support the COVID-19 response.”

This telethon style event is to raise money for all of the first responders so that, “The cannabis community can give back, and say thanks, to the very people who helped make cannabis an essential medicine. The event celebrates 4/20 with artists and musicians, comedians, industry luminaries, and special surprise and delight moments.”


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