The Cultural Evolution Of Cannabis
3 min

The Cultural Evolution Of Cannabis

3 min
Facts News
Cannabis culture has changed with the times. Join us on a journey through cannabis history and explore the evolution of the marijuana scene.

In the modern post-industrial era cannabis has mostly gone mainstream. Legalisation movements the world over are building an unstoppable momentum smashing through prohibition in nation after nation like a freight train. We’ve come a long way from the dark ages of the 1930’s “Reefer Madness”.

Cannabis has certainly changed with the times. Perhaps no other species of plant has been on such a strange journey and played such a variety of roles. Devil weed to some, divine medicine sent from the heavens to others and everything in between. Let’s explore the many transitions in the cultural evolution of cannabis that have brought us to the verge of ending the “war on drugs”.


Shiva god

In the Vedas, the ancient Hindu text from approximately 2000 B.C., cannabis is listed amongst five sacred plants. The God Shiva is commonly associated with cannabis.

Legend has it that following an argument with family he wanders off, presumably brooding, gets tired in the hot sun and decides to take a rest beneath a leafy plant. Later he awakens and decides to have a nibble, so reinvigorated and taken with the plant it becomes his favourite food. “The Destroyer” becomes the first cannabis edibles enthusiast.


Ever lusted after a delicious cannabis beverage? Indulge in some Bhang if ever you happen to get the chance. Bhang is a traditional cannabis-infused sort of ganja milkshake that’s apparently been around since at least 1000 B.C., typically consumed during the festival of “Holi” in India.

Unfortunately typical marijuana and hashish is illegal in India. Despite this “60,000kgs of hashish” was produced in Himachal Pradesh in 2014 according to figures from a report by Surya Solanki in 19/11/14.

Nobody really believes all of this is being ground into Bhang with pestle and mortar. For now the only legal cannabis to purchase is in the form of bhang which is in fact legally sold from stalls on the street, once the vendor is in possession of a government issued permit.



During the 1930’s a coalition of wealthy, racist, American industrialists and politicians went to extraordinary lengths to thoroughly demonise and misrepresent marijuana in the eyes of the American public and by extension the World via the media.


Cannabis prohibition

Harry J. Anslinger (Commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, a forerunner to the DEA), William Randolph Hearst (publisher & paper mill owner) and the US congress could all agree that marijuana prohibition was the perfect vehicle to drive home their real agendas.

The 1937 Marijuana Stamp Act criminalised weed smokers. Law enforcement had the excuse they needed to target minority communities and bust heads and pack jails for decades “for no good reason at all” - Ralph Steadman. Big business no longer needed to fear the 50,000 different applications of the “dangerous narcotic” and the politics of fear was given a whole new lease on life.


Before the “Hippies” came the “Beats”. Guys like Jack Kerouac never made it out of the sixties alive. The post-war “Beat Generation” didn’t fit the square 1950’s so they broke the societal mould.

They hit the road, they travelled and somewhere on the journey they stumbled upon hash and weed and everything changed. Minds were opened, perspectives changed and ideas flowed in all directions.

Hippies cannabis

The 1960’s began with so much promise. Kennedy was in the White House, The Rolling Stones were bursting on the scene and an anti-establishment revolution was fomenting. It’s still an enigma of a decade to analyse from any perspective.

Something magic happened in San Francisco in the summer of 1967, it was “The Summer of Love”. Timothy Leary was discovering the tools of “consciousness expansion”, a humble joint and/or a hit of “Blue Santos” LSD was a fun time and perhaps the keys to “The Doors of Perception”.

At the same time the war in Vietnam was becoming a bloody unwinnable quagmire. In a bitter twist of fate it was to be the war with all its misplaced hate and needless bloodshed that lasted longer than the counter culture did.


Cannabis use has become socially acceptable these days. The scorned vices are cigarettes, hard drugs and sugar, although the list should be topped by addictive opiate-based pharmaceuticals and GMO’s. Drug policy has evolved across Europe and the principle of “harm reduction” has been largely embraced.

Marijuana is no longer stigmatised as a “gateway drug”. The stereotypical basement dwelling stoner is not your average 21st century cannabis user. Cannabis appeals to all kinds of people. Popular culture has embraced cannabis use. Think of how many movies and TV shows feature weed smoking main characters.

Recreational cannabis use is not the act of defiance it once was. However we should not lament this. Similar to the “Beat Generation” we “Millennials” are coming of age on the back of an economic crash and amidst Vietnam style conflicts brewing across the globe. Our problems require out of the box thinking and perhaps we will have to take to the streets again enmass to protest.

If ever the World needed some “Peace & Love” it’s right now. Can you think of the last time you heard some good news from the 24 hour TV news channels? What would Timothy Leary make of all of this despair and fear porn? We must “turn on, tune in, drop out”.

World 420

Quantum computers are communicating with other quantum computers in parallel universes to accomplish tasks. Every billionaire is throwing mountains of cash at tech companies to achieve the “singularity” and/or building a private space fleet. The acceleration in the pace of change is the only thing we can be certain about in this Brave New World.

Rather it’s a small new world. Globalisation and technology have made it so. Cannabis was always cool; always the best medicine and finally it is being recognised as a renewable resource. Ironically it is cannabis legalisation that has become “too big to fail”. The global cannabis market is just over the horizon.


  Top-Shelf Grower  

Written by: Top-Shelf Grower
Veteran cannabis cultivator originally from Dublin, Ireland and currently on the loose in southern Spain. 100% committed to Top-Shelf reporting until captured or killed.

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