What is Weed Culture?
Weed culture, also known as cannabis culture, refers to a social environment and set of behaviors that focus on heavy cannabis consumption. This article will discuss the evolution of weed culture, from ancient spiritual enlightenment and the counterculture movements of the twentieth century to modern recreational and medicinal use.
Ancient Spiritual Practices
In ancient times, cannabis was used as an entheogen, meaning the herb was consumed in high quantities to achieve spiritual enlightenment. This began around 2000-1500 BCE, in what is known as the Vedic Period. Cannabis consumption during this period occurred in India, Romania, Egypt, Mesopotamia, and China, as well as among Germanic, Celtic, Asian, and African tribes. Cannabis, a plant that produces hemp and hashish, was indigenous to India, and was called ganja in Sanskrit and other Indo-Aryan languages. Hemp, made from the leaves of the marijuana plant, was used to make rope, clothing, medicine, and food. Hashish, which are the flower buds of the plant, are consumed via smoking to reach a spiritual and euphoric state of mind. Today, the use of cannabis for spiritual enlightenment is practiced by members of the Rastafari religion in Jamaica and several islands in the Caribbean.
Cannabis use didn’t become popular outside of Eastern countries until the early twentieth century. From the 1920s to the 1940s, several Western countries, especially the USA, experienced a subculture movement where cannabis use was rising in popularity. The members of this culture, called hipsters or hepcats, adopted a lifestyle that revolved around smoking cannabis, listening to jazz, using slang and sarcastic humor, and participating in more casual sex. Exploitation films warning of the (often exaggerated) dangers of smoking marijuana began in this era, and would continue into the 1970s.
The beatnik subculture of the 1950’s brought the psychoactive properties of marijuana to the forefront. Aldus Huxley’s novel The Doors of Perception further influenced Americans' perception of marijuana. This subculture had a major influence on the movement that would define the next generation.
The 1960s became the era of the most influential counterculture movement in modern U.S. history. Weed culture grew significantly during this time. Cannabis had many names, including marijuana, Mary Jane, pot, weed, and grass. People across the country, often called hippies, consumed cannabis recreationally. They spoke of how cannabis gave them a pleasurable or mellow feeling in the body and mind. Many described this feeling as being "baked" or “stoned.”
The psychotropic and psychoactive properties of marijuana were used as an alternative to more dangerous drugs in psychotherapy and to experience a psychedelic journey into self-exploration. There was also a return to using marijuana for religious and spiritual enlightenment. Hemp also returned as a popular textile and fabric, being used to make ropes, canvas, paper, clothing, jewelry, and so on. Plus, pipes, bongs, and hookahs became popular products for people to smoke weed through.
Weed culture became more mainstream in the 60’s and continued to grow in the 1970’s. Stoner films, like the Cheech and Chong movie franchise, dominated movie theaters. Musicians referred to smoking marijuana in music. This was usually done using common metaphors and slang, since weed was deemed an illegal substance by the government. The magazine High Times was first published as a lampoon of Playboy in 1974, and contained centerfold photos of weed instead of naked women.
Modern Weed Culture
Weed culture today spans the globe. Cannabis users have developed their own unique language, humor, etiquette, art, literature, film, television, and music. The number "420" has become synonymous with smoking weed. Weed has been legalized in several states. Production of hemp is at an all-time high, and used in numerous industries, including natural fuel, food, clothing, cosmetics, and so on.
A popular industry on the rise is kush apparel. Kush is a specific variety of cannabis that comes from the Hindu Kush Mountains, which spans the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. There are several Kush clothing lines and textile companies. Clothes that celebrate the benefits of cannabis are more in than ever!
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