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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.

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    We look back on how the plant became mainstream

    5 Facts About How Cannabis Was Used in the 1970s

    Marijuana is the oldest known psychoactive drug consumed for thousands of years, well into the 19th century and now, the 21st century. The 19th century was a significant time for cannabis because more people became aware of the plant and all of its properties. During the 1960s, cannabis use increased with the rise of the counterculture, which encouraged a revolution of social norms in drugs. This marijuana use and popularity continued into the 1970s, when people smoked “hippie weed”.

    Weed today is not like it used to be because during the 1970s, the “hippie weed” came from illegal imports, mainly from Colombia. 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 this flower was confiscated during police raids, and later used for marijuana research. During the 1970s, many individual states showed an interest in medical marijuana, so many began researching the plant. A number of marijuana agencies and organizations were created during the ‘70s, including the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). NORML is an activist group that promotes and coordinates grass-roots efforts to legalize medical marijuana at the state and local levels. The group has grown into the premier decriminalization advocacy group it is today, which continues to push for marijuana reform.

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    Cannabis use in the 1970s was much different than what we see today. Learn more about the differences and how marijuana use has changed over the decades.