Patrons of Idaho’s 420 mile marker have finally found a way to prevent the sign’s repeated thefts — doing away with it altogether. The state has changed the highway mileage indicator from 420 to 419.9, reported Associated Press.
Idaho’s response to the problematic traffic post mirrors that of states like Colorado and Washington, who have also had to switch out their original 420 mile marker for a less storied number. Fortunately for most of the nation’s transportation departments, only a few states have highways that stretch far enough to warrant a mile markers reaching the legendary digits.
The number, date, and time 420 have all become synonymous with cannabis use in modern pop culture. While the origins of the number’s association with pot is murky, the most widely accepted birthplace of the term is San Rafael High School, California. There, a group of young men who called themselves “the Waldos” claim that they coined the term after leaving at 4:20 p.m. on a quest to find a field of marijuana north of San Francisco, reported BBC News. Though they never located the crop, Dave Reddix, “Waldo Dave” recalled the adventure fondly.
“We were smoking a lot of weed at the time. Half the fun was just going looking for it.”
Surely never foreseeing a future where it would lead to mile marker theft, 420 then slowly worked its way to hardcore Grateful Dead fans, or Deadheads. Later, marijuana-focused magazine High Times began heavily circulating the term in its articles, as well as the practice of smoking at 4:20 in its offices. Even though the Waldo’s original story was contested by a rival group who claims to have created the term, documentation convinced many major publications, including The Huffington Post, that they were the true godfathers of 420.
Whatever the true origins of 420 becoming the icon of marijuana use, its strong pull for cannabis users creates a previously non-existent problem with mile marker theft. Adam Rush of the Idaho Transportation Department told AP that the signs are not generally heavy targets for vandalism.
“Having a sign removed from a highway is pretty rare. In Idaho, people will shoot at them or write on them before stealing them completely. We spend more time mending signs than replacing them.”
When they’re not being snatched up by stoners, 420 mile markers are also sometimes coincidentally the sites of other marijuana-related news. Rick Voigt, 41, and his wife Dawn, were caught with 115 pounds of weed at a Montana 420 sign in 2014, reported Animal New York.
[Image via Andrew/Flickr]