The 1960’s “Counterculture” has come to full maturity and fruition as a quality of “mainstream” America. This year, the Grateful Dead celebrate their fiftieth anniversary of their incarnation: A peek into an old dictionary gave the shimmering golden name to a bemused Jerry Garcia, about half a year into their life as “the Warlocks” It could not be said that this was the “birth of the Sixties” even if it was, more or less, the birth of this particular “Sixties band”. But there are parallels in the life of the Grateful Dead and their stumbling, cursed, rise to respectability which ebbed and flowed with the fate of the concomitant “sixties Counterculture” they purportedly went on to represent (for four and a half more decades.)
One of the misleading assumptions, first of all, is that the “counterculture” actually amounted to anything, in and of itself. That somehow (this was one of its biggest conceits) just having had the LSD experience somehow qualified a person thereafter into a “better” sort of personality, a “novus humanus” or in its Iron Curtain sense “New Soviet Man.” Of course, psychedelics themselves did no such things. Many people DID benefit from the awareness they received therefrom as to the qualities of their personalities, but personalities aren’t so easily washed away, nor is human nature so easily wished away. The “Psychedelic Revolution” of the “groovy Sixties” actually was pretty much all about access to illegal drugs, and the right to use them. An entire economy grew out of the marijuana smuggling trade and burgeoned into pop culture arcades such as High Times. One might get the feeling, were one to peruse its back volumes, that there had always been this somehow incredibly intense and international marketplace where substances banned by the Customs Departments of innumerable nations had an actual agora, and centers of distribution. The truth was, of course, as usual, much, much dumber than that.
When I say that it has “come to fruition” I mean in the sense that, only now, as the validity of the idea of marijuana being a medicine, has come into a majority among the population, “recreational” marijuana is gaining a legitimacy it had never achieved before, and this, of course, is the result of the hard work and patience of the millions who grew up expecting legalization to occur within their “lifetimes”. And the Treasury Departments of numerous states make calculations and projections based on the profits they can bring in from revenues attached to taxation schemes.
This, itself, is a rather gauche and offensive development itself, for in states where it is re-legalize, there is probably not bound to be any state funded reparation made for all the thousands those states have imprisoned while cannabis was still under its “outlawed” status. And it’s offensive as well to many who grew up expecting the price of an ounce of marijuana to cost no more than ten, fifteen, or (tops) forty-five dollars. Perhaps a reason for this massive inflation in price (and conversely, state tariff expectations) was primarily due to the fact that, back when High Times magazine began publishing, the international marijuana smuggling “industry” (composed primarily of rogue pilots, ex-servicemen, and entrepeneurs) wisely decided (for their benefit) to add the costs of obtaining legal representation to fight court cases (if caught) into the risk expectations of their profit margins. So the price of ounces began their long, inexorable climb to the execrable status they now hold today- $260 in California, alone.
Whereas, an individual in a legalized state reserves the option (if they can obtain seeds, that is) of always growing their own. A yard of six plants will yield well over two pounds, in proper conditions, which ought to be well enough to provide a single smoker, and his friends, of at least a year’s supply. This is speaking conservatively, but really who actually and truly wishes to smoke it every single day? Despite all contrarian claims, there are aspects of heavy marijuana use every bit as obnoxious as chronic alcoholism. Everyone knows what you are up to since you smell like what you’ve been up to, you begin to center your life around the daily expectation of its rewards “to unwind” and similar to a life living on a diet of chocolate cake, very soon, it isn’t really very special anymore. But surely growing your own is the individual's very best personal defense against the ever-greedy “marijuana industry.”
And so it has never really been “ a revolution.” Were it a revolution, truly, it could never have taken this long even to achieve the turnabout in status which cannabis now holds amongst the nation. Cannabis itself is but one small emblematic icon of the “Peace and Love” generation. Generational outlooks aside, the hope of a “more peaceful planet” has not exactly come about either, as the Sixties generation assumed roles of power, such as Barack Obama, current occupant of the White House, elected as the “peace candidate”, awarded the Nobel Peace Prize just for being elected, and waging his own wars in several theaters and ignoring the consequences of his inhumane use of unmanned mobile weapons upon civilian populations in a nebulous “war on terror” where the world itself is a battlefield. It is a harsh thing to judge a younger man so, but when one has been around a while, one has a keener eye for discriminating hypocrisy and lies. That enough people keep swallowing the lies, well, people are always going to be swallowing lies. And no, it wasn’t a revolution. Because love of money and power are attributes of our human nature, and men are corruptible.