hippies smoking weed 1960s

The dopest time for cannabis was in the ’60s and ’70s

We look back on how the plant became mainstream

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    For those who grew up in the 1960s and ’70s, it’s a fairly accurate assessment to say that people smoked it all: stems, seeds, leaves, and buds. While the dosage and potency weren’t quite the same as it is today, this era in cannabis culture was pretty special thanks in large part to the hippie counterculture which gave legitimacy to the mainstream medicinal plant we have today.

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    Social movement of the 1960’s

    Cannabis, which was widely used by hippies, represented to some the golden days of cannabis in history. Many who smoked during this period of time set out to transform the world by taking part in various forms of political activism and rejecting social, economic and mainstream society. On television and in films, stoner stereotypes could be found everywhere. Comedy groups like Cheech and Chong were depicted as jobless and careless, while CBS sitcom The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis (1959-63) employed character Maynard G. Krebs, the “beatnik” sidekick who loathed work, authority, and what many consider TV’s first stoner, to keep viewers entertained. For a long time, being a pothead was seen as an insult, ranging from dirty hippie to lazy stoner. Abi Roach, the founder of Hotbox Lounge + Shop notes that “customers were afraid and the biggest fear seemed to be around the police.”


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    Who was smoking though?

    In the United States, many scare tactics were put forward including charging many first-time marijuana-related offenders with a minimum sentence of 2-10 years and a fine of up to $20,000, as per the Boggs Act, 1952 and the Narcotics Control Act, 1956, these tactics did not stop people from smoking. For many young adults, taking a toke seemed harmless, although it was even more fun because it was breaking the law. Will Stewart, VP Corporate Communications, and Public Affairs at Tokyo Smoke, notes that the social consumption patterns of the ’60s & ’70s have remained a part of the culture today with many people choosing to engage in consumption at events, with groups of friends, and as part of larger gatherings.

    The doctor who kickstarted medicinal cannabis research

    In 1964, Dr. Raphael Mechoulam, Professor of Medicinal Chemistry at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, discovered delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). His team researched cannabinoids and metabolites extensively, later discovering the endogenous cannabinoids anandamide and 2-Arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG), which occurs naturally in the body. Through his studies, he was able to find that each person reacts differently to THC, with the human body containing receptors and compounds, similar to that in cannabis. His team named it the endocannabinoid system, which has been described by some as the body’s natural THC.

    So just how potent was pot then?

    When it comes to the question of potency, THC plays a big role. Throughout the 60s and 70s, according to Leafly, a majority of cannabis was imported illegally to the US from outside countries, mainly Colombia. While we’ll often hear tales of “hippie weed” being so much better than our weed today, the journey between the farmers and consumer took much longer, causing the THC levels to decrease over time as the oxidation would take effect. Lisa Campbell, cannabis portfolio specialist with Lifford Wine and Spirits, explains: “Back in the 60s and 70s, there were a limited variety of strains and a majority of the products available were imported.” According to the American Chemical Society (ACS), the average potency of marijuana has increased by a factor of at least three percentage points in the last 20 to 30 years according to one CBS News article. Lab founder and director of research Andy LaFrate, PhD notes that average potencies right now are at 20 percent THC.


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    What does the future of cannabis hold?

    Right now, the future of cannabis seems bright. A lot has changed since the ’60s and ’70s but still, a lot of work needs to be done in terms of legalization, education and strain technology development. “There are thousands of strains available, with domestic cultivation on the rise,” said Campbell, of Lifford, noting that in Europe and the Americas the home-grow movement has resulted in a diversity of genetics combined with sophisticated growing technology. Roach has noted that pending legalization has allowed people the freedom to live free of fear and without stigma, noting, “normalization was the key in ending the war on drugs. When the masses stopped living in fear, the law was able to collapse and people were able to live free without prosecution.”

    One thing is for certain: the customer is central to the discussion on consumption and with the proper conversations, evolution continues.

    Want to keep up to date on what’s happening in the world of cannabis? Subscribe to the Cannabis Post newsletter for weekly insights into the industry, what insiders will be talking about and content from across the Postmedia Network.

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    We look back on how the plant became mainstream

    Hippies And Cannabis – Flower Power 2.0

    Wednesday 3 June

    Cannabis hippie culture – for many, it represents the golden age of cannabis history. But how much has this cannabis culture changed over the years? Do modern-day hipsters have the same relationship with weed as the hippies did before them? Let’s paint a general picture of how far we’ve come by a brief review of cannabis culture evolution. We’ll start at hippie culture as we saw it in the Sixties.

    Professors, Hippies, And Cannabis

    Ahh, the Sixties… It was a time of free love, psychedelic exploration, and rebellion. The threat of nuclear attack was a constant presence, and for the first time ever, the horrors of the Vietnam War were shown to the world on TV. We put a man on the moon: humanity had never been so high before. Generally speaking, the decades from 1960 to 1980 were a period of turmoil. Old values, lifestyles and social institutions were criticized and uprooted. Revolution was in the air, and a new generation of ‘hippies’ born in post-WW2 freedom, demanded its place in the world.

    In a reality where death and decay we never far, with increasing clashes between social groups, the time was right for a radical new worldview. The public turned inward, experimenting with a wealth of rebel solutions, including cannabis. In 1957, at the dawn of the Hippie Age, Harvard professor Timothy Leary made his case for therapeutic use of psychedelic mushrooms and LSD.

    In that same period, psychiatrists such as Dr. Lester Grinspoon started to speak out against the prevailing anti-cannabis propaganda, pleading for therapeutic use of weed instead.

    From Rebellion Into The Mainstream

    Technology is claimed to be a major factor in the evolution of cannabis culture. Back in the Sixties and Seventies, the majority of cannabis products was smuggled in from overseas. The War On Drugs complicated that. Governments tried to stop international drug trafficking. That made import and distribution of cannabis increasingly difficult.

    Despite all repression, however, cannabis ultimately prevailed. Public views were shifting, and hardliners lost control of the situation. Ever-improving technology did its part, too. The War On Drugs forced people to grow and improve their own weed. Refined (indoor) growing techniques made homegrowing easier. Even though Sixties weed doesn’t come close to modern strains, hippies kept getting better and better cannabis to fuel their ideals of Peace & Love.

    Stronger Weed, Stronger Community

    The new cannabis strains did more than just make the weed stronger, though. Hippie growers also caused a new community to blossom. An emerging society of cannabis growers went through an underground process of growth and development.

    This community only got stronger as technology and society progressed. In 1969, some 12 million US citizens admitted to having smoked cannabis. Today, over 140 million people in the USA have tried weed. This is a leap from 12% of the population to 44%.

    Flower Power Kept Growing

    Cannabis Goes Online

    The shift in cannabis use and image was caused by many factors, but few are as important as the rise of the internet – another product of the Hippie generation. Easy access to positive perspectives on weed changed how the world sees this plant.

    Recent surveys indicate that it is easy to find positive information about cannabis; easier than finding negative info, in fact. That’s a game changer, because socials are the main source of news information for young people today. In 2015, 58% of Americans thought that cannabis should be legalized. Other studies suggest that the general public now regards alcohol and opiates as bigger health threats than cannabis.

    Cannabis has officially entered the mainstream. For the first time in history, a US majority supports medical as well as recreational cannabis use. We owe a large share of that shift in perspectives to long-haired, pot-smoking, guitar-playing hippies.

    From Hippies To Hipsters

    As said before, technology changes how we look at cannabis. In recent decades, the media have transformed cannabis itself. Weed has gone through a real metamorphosis. Where it once was a symbolic product for barefoot hippies, it became a favorite pastime for lazy high school dropouts; only to become a consumer good marketed as a novel, first-class treat or medication.

    To be sure, cannabis is still illegal in most places, but the days when weed was for misfits and losers are well behind us. These days, a range of cannabis products find their way to the shelves of high-end pharmacies and specialist outlets.

    In 2014, The New York Times published its first advert for a startup selling cannabis technology. If you have the money today, you van buy 600-euro vaporizers and custom luxury sofas designed to add comfort to your cannabis smoking experience.

    Millennials: Hippies 2.0?

    It wasn’t just technology that kept evolving, either: cannabis advocates have changed as well. Upstart hippies have been replaced by slick hipsters. These newcomers combine a high-tech market mindset of the Eighties with an entrepreneurial and green take on the global economy.

    To illustrate the point, millennials experiment with homeopathic or natural medicine twice as often as babyboomers do. They are bolder than the hippie generation commercially, too. Hipsters don’t sneak off into the park to smoke a stealthy joint; they approach brands and help them design products that match their own values.

    To name one example: Meadow, a new Silicon Valley startup, aims to be the Uber of cannabis. They pick up your buds at your favorite dispensary and deliver them to your doorstep.

    Lasting Influence Of Hippies On Cannabis

    While hippie era weed has gradually made way for a much more commercial type of cannabis, today’s cannabis consumers are still heavily influenced by hippie culture.

    Just like jazz and reggae cultures, hippy culture made a lasting impression on how we look at weed today. It’s about much more than marketing and mainstreaming. Even though times have changed dramatically, the deep-rooted ambitions for peace, love & happiness still echo throughout global cannabis culture.

    The world changes; weed changes, and we ourselves keep changing too. Still, cannabis culture has roots that are worth keeping alive. Perhaps true hippies are now extinct, but their ideals still ring through in the weed we smoke today. Peace Out.

    Hippies and cannabis are closely connected. Boerejongens explores the history of flower power to tell you the tale of hippie weed.