What does 4/20 friendly mean?

4/20 is celebrated among cannabis users worldwide, but what does it really mean to be 4/20 friendly? Here’s everything you need to know.
What Does 4/20 Friendly Mean?
minute read

Cannabis culture has been around for decades, going from a true fringe subculture to a massive industry at the forefront of innovation. Now that we can step back and look at the evolution of the business and culture at large, it’s a fitting time to look at some odds and ends that make it unique.

4/20 is a perfect place to start, blending cannabis mythos with storytelling and the evolution of the weed world through the ages. What does it really mean to be 4/20 friendly, and where do we stand now with the acceptance and role of cannabis in our current world

What is 4/20?

4/20 is a unique term, encompassing a time of day, a calendar date, and a general association with all things cannabis. If you see 4/20 on a sign, a shirt, or any type of paraphernalia, you can already guess it has something to do with weed, acting as a sort of code word that insiders know about.

4/20 can refer to April 20th, a day when cannabis enthusiasts gather to enjoy a smoke with friends or in a festival environment. It can also mean 4:20 p.m., which is (almost) late enough in the day to partake in the first smoke of the evening. 

One thing is for sure: 4/20 will always be a significant number in the world of cannabis, even as the industry develops and regulations change with the times.

Where did 4/20 come from?

4/20 might seem like a random sequence of numbers with no real connection to cannabis, but its origin story illuminates the meaning behind it all. As the legend goes, a group of high school students in 1970s California would gather after school to smoke together in a secluded area. 

At this time, legalization was still a pipe dream, so this coded language was necessary to keep their activities secret, especially in the context of a high school setting.

It might seem unlikely that an insider term among friends would gain such widespread recognition through the years. We can attribute this viral effect to the Deadheads — followers of the legendary rock band the Grateful Dead — who made the term spread like wildfire across the country in the ‘70s and ‘80s.

The story doesn’t end there, as the growth of the internet led to the further propagation of the 4/20 term and surrounding culture. From music albums and merch to jokes and memes, 4/20 made its way across the web faster than ever, securing its place in the world of cannabis and mainstream culture as a whole. 

Why is 4/20 still relevant today?

4/20 might seem like a commonplace idea to modern smokers, and you likely know about it even if you don’t engage with weed culture. However, the term is now deeply ingrained into cannabis vocab and has even made its way into regulations around cannabis product packaging. 

4/20 is also relevant in the context of cannabis acceptance, as we see with terms like “4/20 friendly” and other settings. With mainstream events from New York City to Australia and Europe, 4/20 awareness is now a global phenomenon. Even now, as cannabis is more widely accepted, many users still use this old-school code word as a nod to the pioneers of cannabis cultures and an inside joke that keeps things personal and communal. 

What does it mean to be 4/20 friendly?

To be 4/20 friendly means to accept, recognize, or show appreciation for all things cannabis. You may see 4/20 on the front doors of cannabis shops, in online ecommerce shops, or even in public spaces where officials “look the other way” on open cannabis usage. 

Individuals might also recognize themselves as “4/20 friendly” on forums or online marketplaces, implying they’re regular cannabis users or don’t pass judgment on others who choose the cannabis lifestyle. As the world becomes more 4/20 friendly, keep an eye on the following trends and consider how you can be more 4/20 friendly yourself.

Cannabis businesses and organizations

With legalization sweeping the nation, we are increasingly seeing businesses and organizations promote themselves as 4/20-friendly establishments and “safe zones” for responsible cannabis use. For instance, 4/20-friendly outdoor music venues might allow for open cannabis use, while certain indoor venues like cannabis bars will curate and sell cannabis for use on-site.

Of course, 4/20-friendly businesses include those directly involved in cannabis production or distribution, or non-profits that promote the health benefits and safe use of cannabis for the general public. Even brands that don’t sell cannabis flower can be considered 4/20 friendly, as products like CBD and other non-psychoactive formulas all come from cannabis.

Responsible use of cannabis products

If you’re just taking your first steps to become 4/20 friendly, using cannabis responsibly is your first step. If you can legally purchase cannabis flower or edibles in your state, consider celebrating the annual event in a public place with other cannabis enthusiasts and see what it’s all about. 

Cannabis is best enjoyed with others, so bring friends along and enjoy the spring weather at your local 4/20 event in the park or downtown. Alternatively, you can enjoy a private session with close friends, where you can try cannabis in a safe, less stimulating environment. 

Just be cautious with today’s cannabis flower and edibles, as these products have become quite potent and induce a powerful psychoactive high. We suggest a small serving size of a delta-9 THC product like our Above + Beyond Live Resin CBD Gummies, giving you a taste of THC without overwhelming effects.* 

Be prepared and start slow, and you’ll get the full 4/20 experience no matter the calendar date. 

Hemp extracts for well-being and health

For those not interested in the psychoactive side of cannabis, you can still participate in the broader spirit of 4/20 by using non-psychoactive hemp extracts for therapeutic benefits. 

For instance, our full spectrum tincture offers a balanced mix of key cannabinoids with trace amounts of THC — just enough to attain deep calm and soothing effects. You can ease into the 4/20-friendly lifestyle by starting here and seeing what cannabis can do for your health and well-being, rather than going for a traditional high experience.

That’s the beauty of 4/20 friendly: there’s no right or wrong way to enjoy cannabis. The culture is built around acceptance and enjoyment rather than exclusion or elitism, so use cannabis how you want and blaze your own trail forward. 

The bottom line

4/20 friendly can mean so many things in the world of cannabis, and the term is almost universally known — even to those who don’t use the plant themselves. You can find 4/20 references scattered throughout popular culture, art, music, and even the business world. Now that you know where to look, you can’t miss it.

As you explore the world of cannabis for the first time or familiarize yourself with the basics, Sunmed is here to guide you with the highest quality, lab-tested products available. With so many options, you’ll surely find a way to enjoy cannabis in a way that fits your aspirations and lifestyle. 


“That’s Pot Culture Right There”: Purchasing Behaviors of People Who Use Cannabis Without a Medical Cannabis Card | NIH

Cannabis use, attitudes, and legal status in the U.S.: A review | NIH

How 420 became code for marijuana | BBC

Cannabis culture: A stable subculture in a changing world | Sage Journals