Forever young…Cannabis in the 1960s,
Cannabis in the 1960s, the decade of the counterculture, which encouraged a revolution of social norms amidst a time of war and the times “they are a changing”. That was the decade of cannabis in the sixties and I caught smack in the middle of it. Going from a young child to a young man to a young soldier in this cultural revolution and war… And Roger McGuinn with his twelve string guitar was singing “The times, they are a changing” indeed.
A decade of irresponsibility?
Some called the 60’s “a decade of irresponsible excesses”. A breakdown of social order, the abundance of drugs and free love, fast cars and rock & Roll. Back when anyone under 30 was not to be thrusted, a time of questioning authorities and the norm. A time to ask why and why not? Authorities at the time wondered “how socially damaged the youth back then would become by living in such outright violation of both law and cultural taboo.” It’s a sentiment that today feels either comically outdated or pertinent as ever, depending on which side of the debate one comes down on.
Cultures and war
Meanwhile, several thousand miles away. We find another group of young people of the same age and of the same upbringing of those in the counter-revolution. These men/women were waging a war against the communist take over of South East Asia. The war was being fought on behalf of the same people that the hippies were rebelling against back home, The Defense Industrial Complex. The soldier and the hippie… both engaged in a war of culture and ideals run by the same people. And the beats goes on…
Symbols of peace
As the 60’s progressed, The peace symbol became the face of the counter-culture movement. Both the hippie and the soldier wore peace beads, marijuana leaf emulates and peace symbols. The peace symbol adorned VW microbuses in Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco as it did the armored personnel carriers in the central highlands of Vietnam. These two groups once divided by social discourse, are now united by symbols.. As this revolution advanced, it picked up symbols and artifacts that carried their message. Cannabis and LSD became the symbol of the counterculture and “hippies”. LSD made a run for dominance but became too dangerous and was quickly abandoned. Hence, the birth of widespread socially accepted “drug use” made its way into American culture with Maryjane at the lead.
Summer of love…
The nail in the coffin for the acceptance of marijuana over LSD came In the summer of 1967. Known as “The Summer of Love”, young dreamers converged in by the thousands in Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco to embrace a higher consciousness and obey the “Turn on, tune in, drop out” messages from such luminaries such as Timothy Leary, Jerry Garcia, Jimi Hendrix and Allen Ginsburg, all whom lived nearby. The Hippie movement was born and Marijuana became the drug of choice.
Weed not like it used to be
Weed today is not like it used to be because during the 1970s, the “hippie weed” or “Maryjane” came from illegal imports, mainly from Colombia or brought home by servicemen during the war. This “hippie weed” is different than today’s cannabis because imports from outside of the country could take months to arrive, which affects the potency of the flower. Some of the arguments for and against its legalization were not so different in the late 1960s than they are today. Opponents viewed the drug not only as a public health concern, but as the flag the counter-culture waved in the face of middle class values and consumer culture.
The Hippies are grown
The hippies and the soldiers have grown up, matured and they are now the rule-makers. They remember, they lived the experience and how long before they realize, that they now have the power to change things? Once again time will tell.