Pungent yet refined, a skunky piney aroma fills the air– this is the story of how California came to get its “signature” stoner scent. It was the summer of 1967, as a massive influx of long haired, flower adorned, barefoot rebelling youth known as “hippies” flocked from all over the world to San Francisco, California. On the streets of Haight-Ashbury chants of “Make Love, Not War” could peacefully be heard as strong smells of cannabis closely lingered behind. Free love, sex, music, and of course drugs. This was the lifestyle that gave birth to the “Summer of Love.”
Growing in popularity, the beloved cannabis leaf quickly became a recognizable totem of the hippie revolution and a badge of their anti-war identity. The musicians of the 60’s and 70’s were no stranger to these unconventional Hippie beliefs. Artists like Jimi Hendrix, The Grateful Dead, The Beatles, Pink Floyd, and The Rolling Stones were all using cannabis as an integral piece of their exploratory nature for creating music. Everyone from Cheech and Chong to Hunter S Thompson contributed to marijuana’s budding sub-culture.
It’s well known the Beatles were iconic advocates of cannabis, but the clean-cut boys from Liverpool weren’t always supporters. In 1964, Bob Dylan introduced the band to cannabis which lead to one of the most epic smoke sesh’s in history.
It all began when Dylan misheard one of the Beatles’ lyrics to the hit song “I want to hold your hand.” The lyrics read “And when I touch you, I feel happy inside/ It’s such a feeling that my love/ I can’t hide.” Dylan though the words were “I get high” instead of “I can’t hide” (don’t worry Bob D, we did too). When John Lennon abruptly corrected him about the proper lyrics Dylan announced he was going to get the band high right then and there. Dylan rolled them a joint, and another, and then another and well you know how the rest goes. From that point on the Beatles were hooked. Their newfound love for cannabis shined through their songwriting and enhanced psychedelic sound. Through their music The Beatles helped shape the cannabis culture we know today and gave true meaning to the words “I get high with a little help from my friends”.
Recreational drug use continued to rise among young, Caucasian, middle class Americans and by the end of the ‘60s Marijuana had become a household name. Now, not all Americans were a huge fan of this groovy plant, especially the president, Richard Nixon.
In 1970 the Marihuana Tax Act was officially repealed, and the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act was implemented. The Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act classified cannabis as a “Schedule 1” drug – the most restrictive category of controlled substances. The federal government authoritatively said cannabis had no valid medical uses and a high potential for abuse like other Schedule 1 substances such as Heroin, Ecstasy (MDMA), Magic Mushrooms, and LSD. This Schedule 1 designation made it difficult for physicians or scientists to procure marijuana for research studies. Defining marijuana as medically useless and restricting research access ensured that it would not be developed for use in medicines through the normal medical, scientific and pharmaceutical protocols.
War on Drugs
Turbulent times were ahead – by June of 1971, the Nixon administration officially declared a “War on Drugs.” Nixon had two main enemies – the anti-war left wing hippies and people of color. The administration stated drug abuse was “public enemy number one” and went on to tell Congress drug addiction had “assumed the dimensions of a national emergency.“ Nixon asked Capitol Hill for an initial $84m for “emergency measures” to handle the situation at hand.
The president could try all he wanted, but even the War on Drugs wouldn’t stop Americans from smoking their reefer. Cannabis had become such an integral part of life now as more people began to utilize its relaxing, euphoric properties. During the 70’s as American troops returned home from Vietnam exotic strains from all over the world began cropping up in the U.S. black market. Northern California had the perfect climate for growing your own cannabis and quickly became the mecca for producing some of the best weed in the world.
Stay tuned for next week’s Stoned History lesson as we dive into the 80’s-90’s aka the Dawn of the D.A.R.E. era
Download our free Summer of Love coloring sheets below: