The Cannabis Culture of the Psychedelic Sixties

Think of the word “psychedelic” and what is apt to come to mind? Most likely you conjure images of long-haired, bell bottomed, barefooted hippies, of course some tie-dye thrown in for good effect. Music that ran the gamut from acid rock, to folk songs, to more classic and iconic rock-n-roll. And interwoven through all of it: drugs. LSD to weed, the flower children comprising a generation living in ostensible defiance were open to anything. In fact, the sixties in many ways started to normalize some of these mind-altering substances—particularly marijuana.

Especially in the latter half of the decade, pot became not merely a recreational drug, but it stood for a way of life, a movement toward freedom from authority, freedom from heavily regimented obsolete ways of thinking, freedom from the stifling confines that a mind trained by polite society sometimes imposed.

Timothy Leary encouraged those comprising this pot smoking counterculture to “turn on, tune in and drop out.” And in 1967, that is precisely what tens of thousands of hippies did. Gathering in San Francisco, they brought with them their determination to rewrite the rules whilst letting the drugs connect them to one another and to the universe at large. They shed the constructs of their parents’ generation and let the weed lead them where it may.

The music of the psychedelic sixties also in many instances centered on messages of using weed among other drugs to unite with that something bigger than yourself. Case in point, one of the sixties more well-known drug songs, Rainy Day Women #12 & 35, featured the chorus: “Tell ya what, I would not feel so all alone / Everybody must get stoned.” And get stoned they did.

Fueled by the need for uninhibited expression especially given the backdrop against which they toked up, that of the Vietnam War, the rebellious kids of the sixties used pot as a way to say a simultaneous “fuck you” and “let there be love.”

While certainly cannabis has come a long way since the decade that saw Woodstock among other world-changing events mobilize a generation, the much-heralded marijuana truly does owe a debt of gratitude to the psychedelic sixties.

Anne is a former English professor turned content writer. Holding a PhD in Literature, she spent almost a decade in academia putting that degree to use, until finally realizing it wasn’t exactly the best fit. A full-time writer for the past seven years, she’s learned a great deal about the numerous subjects she’s gotten to tackle, everything from real estate investing to the scarier side of online dating—sometimes more than she actually wants to learn. She can be contacted through [email protected]

I founded PopDaze to celebrate the music, entertainment, and pop culture of the 60’s through the 90’s. In doing so, I have found my passion to cr...