Cannabis culture goes back, way back, to thousands of years ago. From ancient civilizations up to the modern-day, cannabis has been used for ceremonies, medicine, and recreation.
In the USA, cannabis culture sprouted from rebellion against the norm, but slowly began to take root in the mainstream. Now, cannabis culture has permeated not just the United States, but much of western civilization.
However, how is cannabis a culture, and how did it start? Continue reading below as we take a deep dive into cannabis culture as a whole.
What Is Culture?
Before we get into what cannabis culture is, we need to figure out what the word culture actually means. Technically, culture is the customs, ideas, and collective behavior of a specific group of people.
The definition sounds extreme because it implies that cannabis enthusiasts are part of a different society. A more accurate description would be to call it a cannabis subculture.
A subculture is a culture that exists within another larger culture but has different beliefs and interests. Just think of all the music, movies, humor, art, stories, books, and etiquettes that revolve around cannabis.
Alcohol, cigarettes, and coffee are all widely accepted legal drugs, but none have similar subcultures. What is the specific appeal of cannabis, and how did it grow into so many different forms?
A Brief History of Cannabis Use in the USA
To talk about the full history of cannabis culture means we would have to go thousands of years back. However, we'll focus only on the US and the modern cannabis culture as we experience it today.
We've written in detail about the history of harsh weed laws in the US. To sum it up, cannabis was strictly prohibited for many years, starting in the 1930’s.
That didn't stop the public from getting cannabis, and it was the drug of choice for hipsters and beatniks in the 1940’s-50’s. The counterculture of the 1960s kicked off a cannabis revolution during the antiwar protests.
The 1970’s are when cannabis began to enter the mainstream as it grew more popular directly after the antiwar movement. Weed's popularity continued to rise into the modern-day, where we enjoy the most relaxed weed laws the US has ever seen.
Why Cannabis Culture Is So Strong
Marijuana use has, for decades, been associated with people who have gone against the system. The beatniks and hipsters were society’s outsiders that smoked cannabis and loved jazz.
The counterculture of the 1960’s was pure anti-establishment. The hippies and free love movement in the 70’s were both about being for openness, kindness, and peace.
Cannabis was the perfect drug for all of these movements because the people who used it knew that it wasn't what society thought it was.
People brave enough to try it back then found out cannabis wouldn't turn you into a homicidal maniac. They discovered weed was relaxing, fun, helpful, eye-opening, and not dangerous.
Today, we're still wondering why cannabis is outlawed, but it must have been genuinely outrageous to discover back then.
This is why cannabis culture took off. People tried and loved cannabis and wanted to show the rest of the world how great it was. They did that by using art, music, movies, and much more to express their affection for the plant.
Art, Music, and Movies
Cannabis culture is at its most apparent when you're listening to Snoop Dogg or watching Pineapple Express. Weed is a staple in countless art, music, and movies in the past 50 years.
Reggae, jazz, psychedelia, stoner rock, 60's rock, counterculture music, hip-hop, rap, and many more are all influenced by marijuana. There are countless references to weed across all genres of music dating all the way back to the 1920’s.
Not including propaganda like Reefer Madness, films are essential to the progression of cannabis culture. Think of early movies in the 60’s and 70’s like Easy Rider or Cheech and Chong.
Stoner films are now a subgenre of movies with hundreds of titles, and prominent Hollywood studios now produce many of them.
Besides music and movies, stoner culture is particularly powerful when it comes to art and symbolism. The most obvious cannabis culture symbol is the pot leaf.
You've likely seen the cannabis leaf on everything from t-shirts to posters and stickers, and even as graffiti. As a symbol, the pot leaf communicates cannabis culture— when you see it, you don't just see the leaf, but you think about the cannabis experience.
The same thing goes for a combination of colors—red, yellow, and green. If you see a bracelet, a hat, or flag with that color combination, you'll think of Rastafarians and their association with cannabis.
Hairstyles like dreadlocks can also be a symbol for cannabis culture. Many Rastafarians wear the hairstyle, but just because someone has dreadlocks doesn't mean that they smoke weed.
These are just a few examples of the many symbols used throughout cannabis culture, but they all amount to the same thing—the love of the plant.
Etiquette or Rituals
Etiquette is essential in any culture, and it's the same with cannabis. The most important rule when smoking is that you must pass the joint or the bowl around.
With cigarettes and alcohol, you'll likely only share with close friends, but with weed, it's an unwritten rule to pass it around—even to strangers.
You've probably participated in many other cannabis rituals when you've smoked with others and didn't realize it.
Think about the puff puff pass rule that's universally known and accepted. Don't smoke too much before passing it on, and don't bogart the joint.
When you do pass it on, it has to go to the left. Why? Because you need to pass the dutchie on the left-hand side.
Of course, not everyone follows these etiquettes and ‘rituals’, but they're an essential part of cannabis culture. Your friend group may even have some of its own unique rules when you get together and smoke.
Where Cannabis Culture Is Heading
Cannabis is now effectively part of the mainstream and has gained acceptance among the majority of Americans. We're likely going to see full legalization soon, but what does that mean for cannabis culture?
We can say with full confidence that it's here to stay and will likely grow bigger. We expect it to evolve further actually. Cannabis culture's strong roots have been firmly planted in the hearts and minds of generations past and generations to come.
Fully dive into the culture with the help of some of our award-winning products here if you want the best experience possible!