What is 420?

There’s a pretty hazy history surrounding the origins of the term “420” and there’s a whole lot of misinformation out there. Is it a marijuana holiday? Is it a hemp holiday? In this post, I’ll help you cut through the clutter and get right to the bottom of it.

Part of the problem is that—like so many terms in language—420 has taken on a life of its own. It means lots of different things to lots of different people. And just about everybody who uses the term has his or her own folk etymology to account for where the term came from and what it means to their particular circle of friends.

You’ll hear that 420’s meaning derives from various police or sheriffs’ departments (often citing California locales) as a law enforcement code for “smoking marijuana in progress” or “smoking marijuana in public.” Other tall tales make spindly connections to Adolf Hitler’s birthday (4-20-1889) or any other range of references to popular music of the 1970s like Bob Dylan or the Grateful Dead. Still other accounts point to 4:20 being “tea time” in Holland (a province in The Netherlands known for its friendliness to herb), or any other range of references to things with a precise quantity of 420 bits.

In general, most people use the term to mean something like “National Pot Smoking Time.” Lots of students are out of school and home by 4:20pm, and lots of adults are off from work at that time and ready to relax. April 20th every year provides a way to kind of double-down on “420” because you can smoke pot at 4:20pm on 4-20.

According to both the History Channel and the Huffington Post, the original usage had to do with a group of California high schoolers who called themselves “The Waldos.”

Author Brynn Holland for the History Channel writes: “In the fall of 1971, the Waldos learned of a Coast Guard member who had planted a cannabis plant and could no longer tend to the crop. Provided with a treasure map (some say by the plant’s owner himself) supposedly leading to the abandoned product, the group would meet at the Louis Pasteur statue outside their high school at least once a week conduct a search. Their meeting time? 4:20 p.m, after practice (they were all athletes). The Waldos would pile into a car, smoke some pot and scour the nearby Point Reyes Forest for the elusive, free herb. One of the original members of the Waldos, Steve Capper, told the Huffington Post, ‘We would remind each other in the hallways we were supposed to meet up at 4:20. It originally started out 4:20-Louis, and we eventually dropped the Louis.’”

Apparently Capper and the other students never found the botanical treasure, but they did manage to coin a term that let them—and many others—refer to smoking pot without meddling parents and teachers find out what they were talking about.

So while 420 may not be quite as clever as some other folk “holidays” like Star Wars Day (May the 4th be with you) or Pi Day (March 14th—or 3.14 for the math nerds), 420 still acts as a quasi-secret, in-on-the-joke reference for marijuana users the world over.

Thanks for taking the time with me today, Happy 420 Day tomorrow(!), and, as always, be well, friends!


The Endocannabinoid System

It has only relatively recently (1990’s) been discovered that humans (and other mammals) possess an endocannabinoid system. This is a system in which the body naturally produces cannabinoid molecules and uses them in a variety of physiological processes. The endocannabinoid system consists of the endocannabinoid molecules (cannabinoid molecules produced by the body), cannabinoid receptors, enzymes that produce (and destroy) the cannabinoid molecules, and the neurons, neural pathways and associated cells.

The endocannabinoid system has been determined to be important in biological processes associated with memory, appetite, metabolism regulation, stress function, immune function, reproduction, sleep regulation, body temperature regulation and autonomic nervous system regulation (such as digestion, urinary activity and reproductive systems). This biological system has been found to be involved in pushing the body toward homeostasis—meaning that it is involved with normalizing functions that are out of balance. An example of this is at the site of an injury, cannabinoids are present and believed to be regulating the release of “sensitizers” from the injured tissue, stabilizing the nerve cells and calming pro-inflammation releasing cells. 

Two types of endocannabinoid receptors have been found—CB1 and CB2. The CB1 receptor is primarily active in the brain, whereas the CB2 receptor is primarily active in the immune system. THC has been found to bind strongly to the CB1 receptor and cause the psychoactive response felt with marijuana. CBD on the other hand, does not bind to either type of receptor. Instead, it is known to block THC from binding to the CB1 receptor, thus decreasing the “high” from marijuana. The specific action of CBD is not as well understood, but it is believed to enhance the activity of the naturally produced endocannabinoids. Research has shown the ingestion of cannabinoids can signal the body to produce more endocannabinoids and build more cannabinoid receptors. The presence of more receptors in turn increases a person’s sensitivity to cannabinoids and therefore increases one’s endocannabinoid activity.

But while research has shown a synergistic effect when combining THC and CBD, many people don’t want the psychoactive effects of THC or the legal ramifications of that molecule (drug testing at work, for example). The best alternative, we believe, is taking the full-spectrum product from high CBD, ultra-low THC extract derived from hemp.  We believe the small levels of THC (less than .3%) and the other dozen or so cannabinoid molecules present in the full-spectrum extract enhances the activity of the CBD over a CBD isolate.

The presence of the endocannabinoid system and its positive effects on a wide variety of biological processes has helped explain how ingesting this one plant can have so many benefits. That people are trying this product—and getting results—has created a grassroots groundswell that is encouraging scientific research into better understanding the specific biological pathways of its effects.

We are encouraged by this and we look forward to understanding this important system. We want to learn how we can make the effects stronger and make ourselves both feel better and be healthier.   

Be well, friends!


International Women's Day

March 8th (today) is International Women's Day!


At Hypatia Extracts, we take this very seriously. Our company was founded on the dual notions of the strength and leadership of women. 

Our namesake, Hypatia of Alexandria, was a scientist, educator, astronomer, mathematician, and philosopher nearly two thousand years ago. None of these professions were fashionable then, and they were certainly not fashionable for women.

But—as we now say—“nevertheless, she persisted." 

Hypatia overcame many obstacles in her time, and she has become a symbol—both for our company, and in the public consciousness at large for women in the sciences. 

Our CEO, Dr. Mary Lewis, is our Chief Scientist and Director of Extraction. Her knowledge of chemistry is the cornerstone of our business, and her leadership has transformed Hypatia Extracts from a mere idea in our heads to a literal brick-and-mortar office and laboratory, where we are constantly researching and developing new ideas to create the highest quality hemp-based products available. 

We're proud to work for Dr. Mary, and we're grateful for her contributions every single day. 

And, as luck would have it, it's also Dr. Mary's birthday today! Help us celebrate both Mary's birthday and International Women's Day and tell the women in your life how much you appreciate them. 

Visit our website to learn more about Hypatia, our company, and Dr. Mary at www.hypatiaextracts.com.

Why Full Spectrum?

Hypatia Extracts only makes full-spectrum hemp products. 

That means all of our products contain the full range of chemical components naturally occurring in the hemp plant—the largest concentration of these is CBD: cannabidiol. 

This molecule has been found to have a diverse set of beneficial properties for both humans and animals. These include anti-inflammation properties, analgesic (pain blocking) properties, anti-convulsive properties, and anti-anxiety properties, among others. You can obtain isolated CBD products from other companies, but we believe keeping the full, botanical composition is best. 


Because the full-spectrum oil contains additional cannabinoid compounds with similar and additional benefits to CBD. Research has found there to be a synergistic effect with the naturally occurring cannabinoids—where the benefits are magnified when consumed in combination.  Further, there are additional valuable compounds such as omega fatty acids, terpenes, and chlorophyll which have beneficial health properties as well. 

Processing the hemp extract to yield CBD isolate—the way some other companies do—requires the use of harsh chemicals that are neither environmentally friendly nor particularly healthy for the workers. You will see other companies advertising full-spectrum oils that are, unfortunately, extracted using harsh chemicals as well. 

We use a dry sift method that doesn’t need any chemical solvent and produces a clean, healthy, environmentally friendly product. 

We hope you will try our product and experience the benefits of the full-spectrum oils and appreciate the pure nature of the product and the environmentally-friendly process with which it is made. 

Be well friends!

-Dr. Mary