Ask a Stoner: What's the deal with 4/20?

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Dear Stoner:

What is up with 4/20? Why is that like the St. Paddy's Day for potheads?

Nada Mota


William Breathes

Dear Nada: The most plausible explanation comes from Huffington Post reporter Ryan Grim. A story he wrote in 2009 describes how five kids at San Rafael High School in the early 1970s heard about a clandestine pot-grow operation that had been abandoned. They decided to meet up at 4:20 one afternoon after school to search for it. Although they never found the crop, they continued to use the phrase as a code for smoking herb. So how did this catchphrase used by a small group of California high-school kids spread far and wide? According to Grim, the missing link was the Grateful Dead. One of the kid's dads was friends with the band, so all of the teens were Deadheads by default. They began spreading the 4/20 reference around that community, using it when getting high with the Dead and their hangers-on. But the real explosion came during the band's Christmas 1990 Oakland run, when Celebrity Stoner founder and former High Times editor Steve Bloom was handed a flier in the parking lot before the show advertising the first organized mass 4/20 gathering. The secret stoner event was held at Mt. Tamalpais outside of Mill Valley; Bloom wrote it that May, and High Times continued to use the term over the years. With time, it spread from herb smoker to herb smoker — until it developed into the annual celebration of activism and getting high that it is today.

Dear Stoner: If a mosquito bites you while you're smoking a joint, will it get high?

Buggin' Out

Dear Buggin': What a classic stoner musing! I can remember sitting poolside with a bong in college, wondering the same thing.

Sadly for the mosquito, there's no buzz to be had out of the active THC in your blood. According to a 2001 British study conducted by GW Pharmaceuticals, insects are among the few beings on earth that don't have cannabinoid receptors. Birds, fish, mussels and even sea urchins, for example, all have cannabinoid receptors.

But while we're on the subject of bug inebriation, it turns out they can get drunk — though not likely from sipping on your blood. Studies have shown that insects can handle as much as 25 times the amount of alcohol, by weight, that humans do before feeling the effects. What's also interesting is that bugs, like people, can be more aggressive toward one another when drunk. If only they'd get high instead.

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