Dude: 'High Times' Editor Explains High Holiday

420, dude

People take April 20th very seriously. Ron Wurzer/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Ron Wurzer/Getty Images

It's two days before April 20, otherwise known as 4/20. The number has long been code for smoking marijuana — but few people know why. Offering a definitive explanation is David Bienenstock, High Times editor and author of The Official High Times Pot Smoker's Handbook.

According to Bienenstock, 420 didn't become famous because it is:

  • The day Jimi Hendrix died
  • Jerry Garcia's birthdate
  • Police code for the act of smoking marijuana
  • Time to serve tea in polite British society
  • The number of molecules in marijuana

"The true story is stranger and nicer," says Bienenstock. Back in the 1970s, a small group of friends in San Rafael, Calif., used to light up every day at 4:20 p.m., he says. San Rafael is the home of the Grateful Dead, a cultural connection that helped spread "420" as slang.

But even with that resolution, marijuana remains illegal.

"That's why I didn't bring any," Bienenstock says. "I'm on National Public Radio ... On national pothead radio, that's another thing."

Related NPR Stories

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.