What Happens to the Marijuana Counter-Culture When Cannabis Goes Mainstream?


cannabis counter culture

A lot of what we think is “Cool” today was largely inspired by a counter-culture who used cannabis as a primary means of identification.


They went by many names like “stoner”, “hippie”, “potheads”, etc. Music, film, literature and our culture on a larger scale all were influenced in one way or another by this counter-culture.


However, as cannabis gains more legitimacy in the eyes of the world – that which was once deemed “counter” is now becoming “mainstream”.


For example, in the early 1990s – Snoop Dogg was considered a “no good thug!” In fact, he wrote many songs about “thug life” in his signature style of rapping.


The same goes for countless of other figures including, Cheech & Chong, Willie Nelson, virtually every band that performed at Woodstock, etc.


Mainstream society deemed these folks a “threat to their way of life” and in a way…


They were right!


In today’s article, we’ll be exploring what happens when the counter-culture becomes the mainstream and where we are today in this transition.


The Birth of a Counter-Culture


A counterculture cannot be birthed unless an already established “culture” rests dominant in society. While cannabis may be thousands of years old – the concept of “stoner” originates from the early 1900s.


First used to describe people intoxicated by alcohol – as portrayed in Ray Charles’ “Let’s Go Get Stoned” but somewhere in the 1950s & 1960s, the term shifted to cannabis users.


And then came the Hippies…


In order to understand the birth of a counterculture, we must understand the culture that birthed it. In the 1940s and 1950s – the United States just came out of the Great Depression; Puritanical Ideology largely dominated the zeitgeist.


Women only had been voting for three decades since they fought for that right and won in 1919. African Americans only got that right in 1965.


In the 1940s, another great war was plaguing the world – and in 1945, it all ended. This means that the 1950s was post-war economy, and things were starting to look up.


Except, in the 1960s – “new threats” of different ideologies once more allegedly plagued the world – and thus, the cold war, which started brewing during the 50s – exploded in the 60s.


With this new threat, new drafts came and we got the Vietnam war – The First War the US entered without the purpose of winning. There was no “enemy” save for ideology and this clash of ideology meant thousands of deaths.


This prompted anti-war movements which then brought all the oppressed people in the United States together under one banner.


To Give Peace a Chance!


Cannabis – the Unifying Factor


While the struggles of the classes in this culture-soup were far apart, there was one thing that unified all participants under one banner – Cannabis!


Irrespective of your origins, during the 1960s – cannabis & sub sequentially psychedelics became very popular among the youth.


Some believe psychedelics were popularized by the Beatles, but then you’d also have to factor in that the CIA was experimenting with it on unsuspecting Americans under the program MK-Ultra.


The fact that these “drugs” were being used commonly among these anti-war protesting hippies, the government seized the opportunity to extend their powers on “drug enforcement”. And so – a Presidential Criminal Signed the Controlled Substance Act into Law.


The world would be forever changed as a result.


Diamonds are Formed under Great Pressure


This new “weapon” or “policy” as politicians would call it – didn’t do much at first except for being a legal excuse to use law enforcement to break up constitutionally sanctioned protests.


However, as the Vietnam War ended, and the US was just getting started with the Cold War – which would create a whole other dimension of shitfuckery.


Interestingly enough, the activists were no longer protesting these wars because enough time of enforcing the CSA has engrained a pre-determined response within the people.


People knew if they were to protest – the government would use force under the guise of “drug enforcement” to disrupt it.


This drove the counterculture deeper into the shadows while the mainstream was preparing a more robust strategy for eradicating their presence.


Pouring Rocket Fuel on Burning Embers


It was during the 1980s when the War on Drugs went full Orwellian. The “Just Say No to Drugs” or the D.A.R.E-era shifted their attention towards the youth – placing them at the center of all drug policy.


In order for the government to “re-educate” the youth, it required the demonization of the counterculture. However, hippies were no longer the primary personification of the counterculture as they were no longer relatable to the youth. per into the shadows and the  enforcement to break up constitutionally sanctioned protests. ers


Then the Stoner Stepped into the Light.


During the 1980s & 1990s the re-education of Americas youth and the escalation of the War on Drugs – which actually fueled the establishment of Transnational Drug Cartels. With more drugs, there was an even greater push to keep America Drug Free!


With this doubling down of anti-drug hysteria and greater militarization of the police – cannabis once more became central as a “non-violent act of protest”.


The mere fact that you were smoking it was giving the system a gigantic “FUCK YOU!”


But during this time another epidemic was happening – HIV/AIDS. Thousands of people were dying and there was a lot of stigma with it. To make matters even more complicated – it was also tied up with sex-laws and the Gay Rights Movement.


It turns out that cannabis was more than just a “counterculture” form of protest – it also helped with withering disease and relieve nausea from chemotherapy.


Cannabis is a medicine!


From Medical to Mainstream


You can track the progress from 1997 till the time of writing this article and see how the Medical Narrative quickly and silently replaced the prohibitionist narrative.


If the purpose of the war on drugs was to “keep the children safe” – it was clear that withholding life saving medicine from them was far worse than any perceived threat cannabis could pose.


Then the dominoes fell.


One by one, states began legalizing it for medical purposes – and then in 2012, it went legal for recreational use.


The Hippie-Stoner was no longer an outcast, but had some legal space within society. While the counterculture would take at least a decade from 2012 to become normalized in pop culture – it can no longer be denied.


Weed is everywhere!


It’s in your TV Shows being consumed by “non-stoner characters” such as soccer moms. It’s in your music. It’s in your clothes. And now it’s in stores near you. Cannabis businesses are being traded publically. An entire industry has risen from the ashes of the drug war.


The Counterculture is now mainstream – the government simply hasn’t caught up yet.


What happens now?


Here we are – the entire world shifting towards a Pro cannabis stance – albeit with some draconian policy still heavily embedded within legalization.


This is the first domino.


We can already see what’s coming next. Psychedelic drugs are showing a lot of promise in helping with mental health conditions. The pursuit of altering ones conscious state has seen an increase over the past few years.


Things like Breathwork, Meditation, Yoga and similar practices are gaining in popularity.


The question is – when the counterculture becomes mainstream, who then becomes the counterculture?


The Age of prohibition is ending – at least of drugs that is. Depending on how we respond now, will dictate how things will play out in the future.


Just glancing at things these days – perhaps the next counterculture will be comprised of not of what you consume – but on how you think.





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