Dude: 'High Times' Editor Explains High Holiday

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420, dude

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

toggle 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."

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