What happens to the marijuana counterculture when cannabis goes mainstream?
Much of what we think is “cool” today was largely inspired by a counterculture that used cannabis as its primary means of identification.
They went by many names like “Stoner”, “Hippie”, “Potheads” etc. Music, film, literature and our culture on a larger scale were influenced in one way or another by this counterculture.
However, as cannabis gains more legitimacy in the eyes of the world, what used to be considered a “counter” is now becoming “mainstream”.
For example, in the early 1990s, Snoop Dogg was called “not a good thug!” In fact, he wrote many songs about “Thug Life” in his typical rap style.
The same goes for countless other characters including Cheech & Chong, Willie Nelson, virtually every band that has performed at Woodstock, etc.
Mainstream society viewed these people as “a threat to their way of life” and in some ways …
You were right!
In today’s article, we’re going to examine what happens when the counterculture goes mainstream and where we are in that transition today.
The birth of a counterculture
A counterculture can only be born when an already established “culture” dominates society. While cannabis can be thousands of years old, the concept of the “stoner” dates back to the early 1900s.
First described to intoxicate people who are intoxicated with alcohol – as depicted in Ray Charles’ “Let’s Go Get Stoned,” but sometime in the 1950s and 1960s the term shifted to cannabis users.
And then came the hippies …
To understand the birth of a counterculture, we need to understand the culture that produced it. In the 1940s and 1950s, the United States was just emerging from the Great Depression; The Puritan ideology largely dominated the zeitgeist.
Women had only voted for three decades since fighting for that right and winning in 1919. African Americans did not have this right until 1965.
Another great war plagued the world in the 1940s – and it all ended in 1945. This means that the 1950s was a post-war economy and things were starting to improve.
Except for the 1960s, in the 1960s “new threats” from various ideologies allegedly exploded, plaguing the world again, and with it the Cold War that began to brew in the 1950s.
With this new threat came new designs and we got the Vietnam War – the First War that the US entered without gaining the purpose. There was no “enemy” but ideology, and this clash of ideology resulted in thousands of deaths.
This led to antiwar movements that then brought all of the oppressed in the United States together under one banner.
Give peace a chance!
Cannabis – the connecting factor
While the struggles of the classes in this cultural soup were far apart, there was one thing that united all participants under one banner – cannabis!
Regardless of their origins, cannabis and subsequent psychedelics became very popular with teenagers in the 1960s.
Some believe that psychedelics were popularized by the Beatles, but then one should also take into account that the CIA experimented with them on unsuspecting Americans as part of the MK-Ultra program.
The fact that these “drugs” were widely used among these war-protesting hippies gave the government an opportunity to expand its “drug enforcement” powers. And so a presidential criminal signed the controlled substances law.
It would change the world forever.
Diamonds are formed under great pressure
This new “weapon” or “policy” as politicians would call it did little to begin with, other than providing a legal excuse to use law enforcement to break up constitutionally sanctioned protests.
However, when the Vietnam War ended and the US was just getting started with the Cold War, this would create a whole different dimension of shitty fucking.
Interestingly enough, the activists no longer protested against these wars because enough time for the CSA to be implemented has anchored a predetermined response within the people.
People knew that if they protested – the government would use force under the guise of “drug enforcement” to disrupt it.
This drove the counterculture deeper into the shadows as the mainstream prepared a more robust strategy for eliminating its presence.
Pouring rocket fuel on burning embers
It was in the 1980s when the Orwellian Drug War got full. The “just say no to drugs” or the DARE era turned their attention to the youth and put them at the center of all drug policy.
In order for the government to “re-educate” the youth, the counterculture had to be demonized. However, hippies were no longer the primary personification of the counterculture as they were no longer relevant to the youth. into the shadows and enforcement to break up constitutionally sanctioned protests. ers
Then the stoner stepped into the light.
In the 1980s and 1990s, the re-education of American youth and the escalation of the war on drugs led to the creation of transnational drug cartels. With more drugs, there was even more pressure to keep America drug free!
With this doubling of the anti-drug hysteria and greater militarization of the police, cannabis as a “non-violent act of protest” once again became the central issue.
The mere fact that you smoked gave the system a gigantic “FUCK YOU!”
However, another epidemic occurred during this period – HIV / AIDS. Thousands of people died and there was a lot of stigma. To further complicate matters, it has also been linked to the sexual laws and the gay rights movement.
It turns out that cannabis was more than just a “counterculture” form of protest – it also helped disease extinction and relieved chemotherapy nausea.
Cannabis is a medicine!
From medicine to mainstream
You can track progress from 1997 to the time of this writing and see how the medical narrative quickly and silently replaced the forbidden narrative.
If the purpose of the war on drugs was to “keep the children safe,” it was clear that withholding life-saving drugs from them was far worse than any perceived threat to cannabis could pose.
Then the dominoes fell.
Little by little, states began legalizing it for medical purposes – and in 2012 it was legalized for recreational use.
The hippie stoner was no longer an outcast, but had a certain legal leeway within society. While counterculture would take at least a decade to normalize in pop culture from 2012 onwards, this can no longer be denied.
Weeds are everywhere!
It is consumed on your TV shows by “non-stoner characters” like soccer mothers. It’s in your music. It’s in your clothes. And now it’s in stores near you. Cannabis companies are publicly traded. An entire industry has risen from the ashes of the drug war.
The counterculture is mainstream now – the government just hasn’t caught up yet.
What’s happening now?
Here we are – the whole world is moving towards a pro-cannabis stance – although draconian politics is still heavily embedded in legalization.
This is the first domino.
We can already see what’s next. Psychedelics show promise in treating mental illness. The pursuit of changing the state of consciousness has increased in recent years.
Things like breath work, meditation, yoga, and similar practices are becoming increasingly popular.
The question is, if the counterculture becomes mainstream, who will become the counterculture?
The age of prohibition is coming to an end – at least of drugs. How we react now will determine how things will develop in the future.
Looking at things these days – maybe the next counterculture isn’t what you consume – but how you think.
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