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As It Was: The Town Of Weed, Calif., Finally Embraces “Weed”

The small Siskiyou County town of Weed, Calif., finally embraced linking its name to marijuana by holding a Four Twenty Educational Weed Festival this year.  On April 20, of course.

Four-Twenty has been slang for smoking or consuming cannabis since the early 1970s, when some Southern California University students started meeting at 4:20 p.m. to get stoned.

The Chamber of Commerce closed Main Street for the festival, which featured live music, food, artisan vendors, cannabis experts, and a festival mascot, “Tokey the Bear.”

Until now, Weed’s name had nothing to do with the weed by that name.  The town’s namesake is Abner Weed who opened the Weed Hotel and Weed Lumber Co. in the 1870s.  He sold the lumber yard in 1905 and became a county supervisor and state senator.

In its early days, Weed was a rough place to live, with plenty of stories of whiskey-fueled brawls and murders circulating throughout the region. The town was derided in news reports at the time as the “Sodom and Gomorrah of Siskiyou County.”

These days it is more laid back, even more so since California legalized recreational marijuana in 2016.

Shulman, Alayna. "The city of Weed is starting to embrace its name with a 4/20 festival." Redding.com, Redding Record Searchlight, 19 Apr. 2019, www.redding.com/story/news/local/2019/04/19/420-pot-festival-marijuana-dispensary-weed-ca/3521343002/; O'Brien, Zach. "How Did Weed, CA Get It's Name? A Story of Achieving the American Dream in the Wild West." ActiveNorCal.net, edited by Zach O'Brien, activenorcal.net/history/how-did-weed-ca-get-it-s-name-a-story-of-achieving-the-american-dream-in-the-wild-west/; "Historic Sites and Points of Interest in Siskiyou County." NoeHill Travels in California , 25 July 2011, noehill.com/siskiyou/poi_weed_lumber_museum.asp.

Valerie Ing was a teenager when she hosted her first music program on the airwaves. As a student at SOU, she was JPR’s Chief Student Announcer and the first volunteer in our newsroom. She's now JPR’s Northern California Program Coordinator, hosting Siskiyou Music Hall from JPR's Redding studio in the Cascade Theatre.