Marijuana: Stark Differences in Culture from the ’60s to Now

Marijuana Culture: An Introduction

Marijuana has come a long way since the ’60s and ‘70s, especially for young people. As a young person who has had conversations with my family, things were definitely different back then. Of course, most of this has to do with many states having legal or medically legal marijuana, but advancements in technology and growing have marked many differences in the culture of marijuana smokers.

The biggest difference I noticed was general knowledge about the plant itself and its proprieties. Back in my father’s day, it was a plant that you rolled a joint with and smoked. Some weed was more expensive and some weed was cheaper. Some weed was good and some was bad, that was about it. Today there are 100’s of strains on Leafly with their own complex properties and effects that have subtle differences from strain to strain. Not only this, but there are more ways than ever to get high. Flower, edibles, carts, wax, shatter, budder, tinctures, and even suppositories. 

Cannabis sativa and cannabis indica: differencies and health benefits infographic

Marijuana Culture: Younger and More Open

While this advancement in technology is certainly interesting, I think the cultural differences are the most profound. First of all, more people are using marijuana than ever. An abstract from a research paper on marijuana use in students from 8-12th grade states the following: “Increasing frequency of marijuana use was significantly related to increased creativity, adventuresomeness, internal sensation, novelty seeking and impulsivity, and decreased authoritarianism.”

It’s almost as if instead of marijuana making people more open, it’s more along the lines of people who are more open deciding to partake in marijuana use. I’ve noticed this in my personal experience as well.  People who I know that smoke tend to be more open not just about themselves, but about their use. 

Marijuana: The ’60s

The culture back in the ‘60s and ‘70s was different because of the widespread illegality. People smoked marijuana back then not just to escape or alter their consciousness but also because it was more illegal than it is today. According to Amanda Scriver from The Growth OP, “For many young adults, taking a toke seemed harmless, although it was even more fun because it was breaking the law.” This fear of being caught or knowing that it’s illegal created a cool factor that drove many to smoke. Today people are more interested in the medical and mind-altering benefits.

People also had much more complicated ways of buying and selling marijuana. Today someone will just tell you they sell weed and you can just message them, or in some places where it’s legal you just walk into a store and buy it. However, back then people used coded language and meeting places to communicate that someone was selling. 

For example, Richard Goldstein interviewed a student from the University of Texas that told him that “one student sells incoming freshmen annotated maps of the campus. For five dollars you can buy a special map with a black “x” drawn in gothic lettering. On this spot, the owner will usually find a patch of marijuana, ready for harvesting.” People had to be a lot smarter about how they sold it and some of them would even come up with creative methods. A student from the University of California at Berkley would fill tanks with marijuana smoke and sell it to others the way you would sell a keg of beer.

Marijuana: Come Together 

While things might have been more complicated back then sales-wise, I feel all the strains and other things to an extent complicate what used to be such a simple concept. Some people like certain strains, others prefer edibles or a joint or doing a bong hit, and that can be confusing when you are with friends.

As the stoner archetype evolves, it’s easy to get lost under labels and signs, however, at the end of the day, the most important part about marijuana has not been lost. It still brings people together beyond all lines of wealth, race, or gender. When marijuana is around, people tend to be more open to each other and to the experiences of others. At the end of the day, isn’t that what is truly important?