Category Archives: Marijuana

Haight Street Head Shops

Haight Street Head Shops

On January 3, 1966 the legendary Psychedelic Shop on Haight Street opened its doors. It was likely the first, but no one was keeping track.

Haight Street Head Shops

Why “Head” ?

Why did the word “head” come to refer to someone who used marijuana? The association between the word head and drug use goes back at least to 1911 when the writer C B Chrysler wrote in White Slavery Opium smokers, ‘hop fiends,’ or ‘hop heads,’ as they are called, are the fiercest of all the White Slavers.”

In other words, the drug of choice, usually an illegal one, was the prefix for the word “head” until the word alone referred to a drug user.

In the 1960, the most common drug was marijuana, of course, so a “head” commonly referred to that person and that drug.

Haight Street Head Shops

Head shops

While that use of the word may have been an underground one, entrepreneurs would still shy away from using that specific a word to name their establishment. 

Head shops were not simply a supply store. They were places where so-called underground news was found whether it be in newspapers, flyers, or political conversation.

What were a head shop’s supplies? Black lights for posters that used inks containing phosphors. When the ultraviolet light hit those inks the posters glowed. A nice enhancement to an evening atmosphere in a dorm room or a basement rec room.

The pill case, but not the pills, The grass container, but not the grass.

Candles and incense. The Beatles influence went beyond music, of course, and their delving into Eastern philosophy meant those things associated with the East were automatically interesting.

When tie-dyed clothing became popular, it joined the scene along with other “hip” clothing along side water buffalo sandals. 


Haight Street Head Shops

Not that a head shop sold the drugs themselves (at least not directly), but the shop sold those things necessary for drug use. Rolling papers (Zig Zag? Big Bambu?), hash pipes, and water pipes (for those harsher cheaper blends that were the only mixes sometimes available or adding a bit of mentholated mouth wash to the water for a cooler drag).

Head Shops

On line

Google “on line head shop” and not surprisingly one will discover that that they are there in full. “Smoke Cartel,” “Dankstop,” “Everyonedoesit,” “billowby,” and many others offer both the new necessities (vapes) and the old school standbys.

As always, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

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Beatles Say Yes To Grass

Beatles Say Yes To Grass

July 24, 1967

Beatles Say Yes To Grass

Controversy and the Beatles

Beatles Say Yes To Grass

By 1967, the Beatles were used to media scrutiny and controversy. Sometimes the media thrust it upon them; sometimes the Beatles put themselves out front. John's 1965 comment comparing the Beatles' popularity to that of Christ resulted in some radio stations banning their music and some record stores refusing to sell their records.

The original 1966 album cover for "Yesterday and Today" with them sitting in bloody butcher smocks holding pieces of meat and broken baby dolls was so controversial that Capital Records immediately withdrew the album, re-covered it, and only then re-released it.Beatles Say Yes To Grass

John Hopkins

In 1967, most people continued to view marijuana as a gateway drug, addictive, and deadly. While research had already suggested that none of those views was accurate, society continued to legislate against its use, sale, and production.

Those familiar with the substance saw it in a different light. 

John "Hoppy" Hopkins was a British photographer, journalist, researcher and political activist. He used marijuana and a jury found him guilty of its possession and use. The judge sentenced Hopkins to 9 months in prison.

A "Free Hoppy" movement resulted.

Stephen Abrams

Stephen Irwin Abrams an American drug policy activist living in the United Kingdom. He led the "Free Hoppy" movement and wrote a full page advertisement that demanded cannabis law reform.

Beatles Say Yes To Grass

Among the dozens of researchers, academics, scientists, and other well-known people, Abrams sought out the Beatles imprimatur. They not only granted the use of their names to the petition, Paul paid for the advertisement in  The Times. Paul did not want it known he had done so, but having such an illustrious person sponsoring such a controversial piece in a major paper meant the secret was poorly kept.

The text's lead sentence read, "The law against marijuana is immoral in principle and unworkable in practice."

It went on to speak to the view of marijuana's danger and dispute those views.

64 signatures appeared.  After each of the Beatles' names, the initials M.B.O. appeared: Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. Queen Elizabeth had honored them with the award on October 26, 1965. 

Click on the following to view the entire text, from the excellent Beatles Bible site.

John Lennon, ex-M.B.E

Two years later, on Nov. 25, 1969, John Lennon returned his MBE medal stating, "Your Majesty, I am returning my MBE as a protest against Britain’s involvement in the Nigeria-Biafra thing, against our support of America in Vietnam and against ‘Cold Turkey’ slipping down the charts.
With love. John Lennon of Bag"

Likely, many of the same people who had criticized the Queen's honoring John with the award because they felt him unworthy, again criticized Lennon for returning it.

Gosh darn it. The Beatles: damned when they do. Damned when they don't. 

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