High Times — Celebrate '420' with These Films and Music

by Christopher Ehlers

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Tuesday April 19, 2022

High Times — Celebrate '420' with These Films and Music
  (Source:Getty Images)

When it comes to '420,' there are an awful lot of rumors about how it got started. The most prevalent origin story has something to do with a code that law enforcement would use to refer to marijuana-related matters. Or maybe you were told that it has something to do with the chemical makeup of THC. Regardless, we're here to tell you that those are nothing more than urban legends. 

The truth is that it was all started in the 1970s by five teenagers from San Rafael, California, who would meet after school at 4:20 PM to hunt for a cannabis plant that was reportedly planted by a Coast Guard member who could no longer care for it. The fact that they smoked so much weed during their searches is probably one of the reasons why they never found it, despite having a treasure map provided to them by the owner. The story gets a bit more surreal: One of the teen's fathers had a connection with the Grateful Dead, and the five high schoolers began to mingle with the band and their entourage, who started using the phrase. Of course, the rest is history, as 4/20 is now recognized internationally as the holiday for cannabis lovers. Even the California bill that codified medical marijuana was called SB 420, and it all started five decades ago with five teenagers who spoke in code so that parents and teachers wouldn't know what they were talking about.

Matthew McConaughey in "Dazed and Confused"
Matthew McConaughey in "Dazed and Confused"  

Whether you're a casual observer of 4/20 or treat the day as if it were a high holy day, there's no denying that stoner culture has permeated every corner of popular culture. Whether your 4/20 style is to bake a tray of special brownies and chill out to a movie or to smoke yourself silly and put on some headphones, there is no lack of good entertainment. Here are 10 of our favorites:


'Dazed and Confused'

This is one of those films that needs no introduction. A true classic, the title alone speaks to just how steeped in weed it is. A commercial disappointment when it first opened in 1993, "Dazed and Confused" went on to become one of the most enduring slivers of teenage American life. What's more, it helped launch the careers of Renée Zellweger, Parker Posey, Milla Jovovich, Ben Affleck, and Matthew McConaughey who — to this day — is still known for his "alright, alright, alright" tagline, which he first uttered in this film.

'The Big Lebowski'

One of the funniest films of the '90s, this Joel and Ethan Coen black comedy stars Jeff Bridges as "The Dude," a total slacker who is assaulted as a result of mistaken identity. When we say that "The Big Lebowski" is almost like a religious experience to some fans, we aren't kidding: It spawned an actual religion, Dudeism, devoted to the philosophy and lifestyle of the iconic Bridges role. There's also an annual Lebowski Fest, which now happens in multiple cities across America. 

'This Is The End'

This one is so stupid that it's good, and it seems all the funnier if you're knee-deep in bong water. Co-directed by Seth Rogen, "This Is The End" stars Rogen, James Franco, Jonah Hill, Michael Cera, and Emma Watson as fictionalized versions of themselves in the aftermath of an epic apocalyptic event that occurs while they're all stoned at Franco's lavish mansion.

'Fast Times at Ridgemont High'

With a screenplay by Cameron Crowe, "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" is remembered primarily as the film that launched Sean Penn's career, but it also launched the career of Amy Heckerling, who would go on to write and direct "Look Who's Talking" and "Clueless." Crowe actually went undercover at Clairemont High School in San Diego and published a book about his experiences, which became the basis for the film. Although it's a bit jumbled and pretty dated, when you consider that many of the things in the movie actually happened, it's all the more fascinating.  

'Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle '

We don't care what anyone says, this is the funniest stoner movie on this list. Although the premise is asinine, it's a legitimately funny fever dream of an adventure, all in the name of the munchies. Winning performances by John Cho and Kal Penn carry the film, and a hilarious cameo from Neil Patrick Harris is just the icing on the cake. 


Pink Floyd, 'The Dark Side of the Moon'

Probably the most notorious stoner album of all time, "The Dark Side of the Moon" is a trippy enough experience without the pot, it's like a full-fledged plunge into another realm if you listen to this high enough and loud enough. And, of course, how many of us as high schoolers synched this up to "The Wizard of Oz?" It's a lot easier now with YouTube, but back in the day, synching a record or a CD to a VHS was no small task. 

The Jimi Hendrix Experience, 'Axis: Bold As Love'

It's not an accident that Jimi Hendrix's band was called The Jimi Hendrix Experience. Sitting down and giving a full listen to one of his albums, even today, is nothing if not an experience. Hendrix's gifts as a songwriter are on full display here, even when the album occasionally ventures a step too far into the ravine of psychedelia. Regardless, it's one hell of a trip. 

D'Angelo, 'Voodoo'

This neo-soul masterpiece is saturated with marijuana smoke, in the best (and sexiest) way possible. This seminal album from D'Angelo debuted at number one on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart, where it continued to place for 33 consecutive weeks; it also won D'Angelo his first two Grammy Awards. D'Angelo took four years off from music after his debut album, "Brown Sugar," and when he finally emerged with "Voodoo," he had grown into a full-fledged icon. And have you seen the album cover? Sweet Jesus.

Bob Marley & The Wailers, 'Legend'

We know, choosing a greatest hits album can seem like such a cop-out. But really, this one's different. Released three years after Marley's death, this definitive collection has sold over 12 million copies in the U.S., making it the best-selling reggae album of all time. Few albums evoke time, place, and vibe quite like this one, and it would seem that most people agree: "Legend" has spent a total of 725 weeks on the Billboard 200 albums chart, making it the second-longest charting album in history.

Dr. Dre, 'The Chronic'

Drenched in California sun (and an awful lot of weed), Dr. Dre's first solo effort, "The Chronic," is an absolute touchstone in terms of both hip hop and stoner music. It also helped launch the solo career of Snoop Dogg, still the most famous stoner in the music business. A tremendous hit, "The Chronic" spent eight months in the Billboard Top 10, and earned Dre his first of six Grammy Awards.