Anyone who grew up in the 1960s, even the 1970s, knows all about smoking weed, and not in the ways we do today. The last few decades have seen many changes, with legalization now imminent globally. Back then, folks were smoking it all, from buds to seeds, leaves, even the stems. Dosage was not what it is now since potency was not the same. There was certainly no such luxury as weed delivery.
1960s Social Movement
Hippie culture made the 1960s a special era. It also gave rise to the mainstream legitimacy of cannabis into the medicinal miracle we know today. For some, those were the glory days of marijuana, with many from those days transforming political activism and rejecting mainstream, economic, and social norms of society. Stoner stereotypes were everywhere as propagandists worked tirelessly to demonize the plant.
In films and on television, blindsiding was most apparent. Comedy flicks, such as Cheech and Chong, depicted stoners as careless, jobless, even stupid, while The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis saw CBS employing work- and authority-allergic Krebs to entertain viewers as TV’s first stoner. Ranging from lazy, dirty, and mindless, if called a pothead, it was a fine and mighty insult indeed.
The United States government used many scare tactics, including penalizing first-time cannabis-related offenders with up to $20,000 in fines at a decade in jail, under the Boggs Act of 1952 and the Narcotics Control Act of 1956, its subsequent amendment. Folks mostly ignored these tactics, continuing to smoking weed uninhibited. For youngsters, a seemingly harmless toke was even more novel since it was illegal.
Today, cannabis culture incorporates the social consumption patterns of the 1960s and the 1970s. People still use weed-smoking openly at events, as part of larger groups or gatherings, among friends and acquaintances, and even on their own. Now, cannabis is more socially acceptable by mainstream society than it used to be back then, but the heart of the 1960s movement lives on today.
1960s Medical Research
People have been using and studying cannabis for centuries, but it was one doctor from the 1960s who made the important discoveries that led to the research occurring today. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, Dr. Raphael Mechoulam, Professor of Medicinal Chemistry at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, discovered delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, in 1964.
That is not all. Mechoulam’s team conducted extensive research into cannabinoids and metabolites, later discovering cannabidiol, or CBD, and even the existence of the body’s own endocannabinoid system, as well as its naturally occurring endogenous cannabinoids, anandamide, and 2-Arachidonoylgycerol, or 2-AG.
It was through his intensive studies that we now know that THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids affect every person differently. The human body, very similar to cannabis, produces its own compounds and receptors. These compounds called endo- or phytocannabinoids, produced by humans or plants respectively, affect human function and processes. These are remarkable discoveries for medicine.
1960s Cannabis Potency
Marijuana has been getting increasingly stronger since the 1960s. The weed of today is not what your parents smoked. THC plays a huge role in this. Back then, most pot entered the country via various illegal imports from outside, mostly from Columbia. Although we hear stories of how “hippie weed” was so preferable to the weed of today, this is in no way true.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, THC levels have been rising steadily as breeders have been crossing strains and manipulating growing and environmental conditions specific to increase potency. Furthermore, the journey time between growers and consumers was much longer back then, causing THC levels to decrease as oxidation took hold over this time.
In the 1960s and 1970s, only a few strains existed, a truly limited variety, with most of them imported. THC levels used to measure around five percent, 10 if you were very lucky, during those times. Now, however, THC levels are three times that, with average potencies measuring around 20 percent THC for most strains, and some strains are now nearing 30 percent. Today’s weed is much, much stronger.
1960s vs. Today
The future of cannabis looks bright indeed. Not only is the weed of today more potent than that of the 1960s, but it comes in a much wider selection of strains and products. Our parents knew very little of edibles, concentrates, and other forms of cannabis. They were flower experts. Their children have so much more. Legalization is spreading, across states and even countries.
The development of new strains is ongoing. Thousands exist today, with farmers now growing, processing, and distributing domestically. New technologies are extracting cannabis into concentrates even more potent, with knowledge becoming widespread. There are isolates, full-spectrum, and broad-spectrum extracts, all with their own abundance of medical and therapeutic applications.
Today, you can order any strain, of seemingly any potency and in any form that you want it, through online weed delivery. Although the 1960s was a wonderful time for an immersed cannabis culture, we have it much better today. More choice, more variety, more purity, more science, and most importantly, more medical knowledge. Smoking weed then was nothing like it is now. The future will change it more.