Scoring Some Weed in the Old Days: We’ve Come a Long Way, Baby!

  • by Keith Stroup, NORML Legal Counsel August 19, 2014

    Personal marijuana use

    As I prepared to leave for the Seattle Hempfest, a lovely celebration of all things related to marijuana, I could not help but think about what a wonderful time it is right now for those of us who smoke marijuana. We have the best quality marijuana in the world grown right here in the US, and even in those regions of the country that do not yet offer legal marijuana, the selection of different strains on the black market is outstanding. Of course, in those states with some version of legal marijuana, that selection is also conveniently available in retail outlets (at least for those who qualify).

    When I began smoking marijuana in the mid-1960s, the question we generally asked the dealer-man was simple: do you have anything available? It was a simple yes-or-no question; and seldom did he have more than one or two strains. And worst of all, during the late summer and early fall, while we were waiting for the marijuana harvest to finish and work its way through the inefficient black market network from field to consumer, most years we experienced what we called a “drought.” During these droughts, there was simply no marijuana available, or at least nothing other than ditchweed, which was not worth smoking. Those dry periods would usually last for several weeks. But eventually we would get the word that the supply system was once again working, and we could again stock-up with a supply of adequate, but seldom great weed.

    As best I can recall, I generally paid about $60 per ounce, so the cost was affordable, and there was usually an even less expensive version for those who were looking for a bargain, although I think most of that lower quality marijuana was likely headed for the college campuses all across America. According to a recent article published by the IvyGate website, citing a review of pot prices at all Ivy League schools published by the Yale Daily News in 1971, prices at the Ivy League colleges at the time were as low $8 and as high as $25 (for the best quality, usually obtained from Vietnam vets) per ounce. And the quality of what we then thought of as good marijuana would not compare favorably with what we routinely get today, whether from the black market or from a legal market.


    35 responses to “Scoring Some Weed in the Old Days: We’ve Come a Long Way, Baby!”

    1. Rick Day says:

      Keith, when I started tokin’ the reefer in 1976 at age 21, we got decent brown Mexican in Dallas for $10 an ounce or $110 a lb. Sometimes some Thai stick or Colombian Gold would find its way around the ad agency exec set, but things pretty much stayed that way until Reagan hit stride, and then the dry season extended from the end of July to Mid September.

      Lbs went up to $1200/lb for what is now called ‘decent mids’ and until about 3 years ago, anything “loud” was just indical seedless, but that shit changed EVERYTHING.

      From 1994 when Jack Herer hit Atlanta because of the west cost production guys for the Olympics the middle class demand shifted up too. Amsterdam nonstop from Atlanta whet the appetites of those who could afford it.

      Enter Ed Rosenthal and his closet grow books. Enter Medical Marijuana. Quality seedless was going for $400 an oz, if you knew the grower or his ‘person’.

      Enter BC Bud into the market. Everything changed again. More closet or greenhouse growers, to meet the growing demand. Now only elementary school kids would smoke what we used to beg for ‘back in the day’.

      Today you can get a QtP of West coast purple for $800. And yes, from what I’ve seen in my night club they still sell ‘dime bags’ but that nug is tiny!

      Good Times, my Friend.

    2. Buster Jones says:

      Mr. Stroup , I’s forgetting all the colombia weed we brought in in ton loads flying about seven feet of the ocean. That was the good weed in thouse days. I wonder doe’s he remember any of the bundles of cash we sent, to keep norml going?

    3. Miles says:

      I remember too Keith. I’m sure your experience was shared by all of us over age 50.

      It is worth noting that, in retrospect, the marijuana back them was probably far more dangerous! That is because the person you got it from rarely had any idea of it’s origins; a friend of a friend of a friend… So, you didn’t know if it was contaminated in any way. On top of that, we had the Govt spraying paraquot poison on the fields and, I read, some of that making it’s way into the general cannabis population. Yikes.

      I’ll be so glad when our politicians finally come to their senses on this subject and admit that the war against marijuana users has done more harm than could ever possibly have been done by simply never prohibiting it.

    4. Galileo Galilei says:

      In my county we had available weak Mexican and a great Columbian sativa. The highest I ever paid for an ounce of Columbian was $35. Once in a while something unusual appeared, like Jamaican or Acapulco Gold. Weed was always full of seeds. Sensimella was rarely available and downright legendary.

      Hash was available, but I found the high less desirable. I realize now it must have been derived from an Indica, probably from the Old World somewhere.

      Twice in my life I encountered something that looked like shake, but was absolutely great. I have no idea what that was. I assume it was sprayed with THC?

      Incidently, are there any problems in Colorado and Washington from that damn ‘spice’? People are dying from it, usually kids.

    5. Wounded says:

      I can’t recall over 40 for a huge bag of Acapulco gold or Panama Red when it was available.Most ran about 20 to 30 for a 4 finger bag of Colombian and less for Mexican dirt weed at 45 a quarter pound.I would love to have that dirt weed today as the quality is very poor on the streets today.I have seen alot of bud that looks good and smells wonderful but has little medicinal properties.Sorry to disagree but what I bought 40 years ago was better than whats available today in the DC metro area.
      Another reason for medical MJ.

    6. Jay says:

      four or five finger lids, that was the question.

    7. Toby says:

      In 1965, $60 was worth $453.99! That’s a very expensive ounce of pot, especially for 3% thc or whatever it was! http://data.bls.gov/cgi-bin/cpicalc.pl?cost1=60&year1=1965&year2=2014

    8. BobKat says:

      Interesting article Keith! Interesting in that simple, truthful stories couldn’t be told a few years ago. Sure magazines would try to publish “price-guides” but they were hardly relevant.

      I didn’t get stoned until the early 70’s. A small town I could get several varieties sometimes, other times it was a drought, as you say. I paid $40/oz, as a dime bag was $10. And the bags were usually over. I lived in a small town.

      I also worked at a college… quality and connections there just as good as on the outside.

      What I miss are the strains: Panama Red, Colombian, Acapulco Gold, Thai stick (a long bud like a stick of cannabis buds). There was also hash generally available, much from Afghanistan.

      Today, there are different selections, for those where it is legal. For those where it is not, very little if any is imported. Bud from Mexico? Are you kidding – I’d know it and I haven’t seen much in years. Most is “locally” grown, in that it comes from somewhere in the US or Canada. You take what you get – no choice like there may have been back in the 70’s.

      The odd thing was Nixon had little obvious effect on toker’s lives. Nothing Nixon did meant much. And we already knew pot was illegal, and actually some states began to lower penalties. I recall being certain legalization was not far off, and given the details of Nixon’s Blue Ribbon Shafer Committee which supported legalization, it seemed inevitable.

      Carter helped the cause but when Reagan got elected President, all things changed. His wife Nancy, was naive and, that really didn’t help.

      Next thing you know your sources are Mexican only. Until sinsimilia came along and buying crystallized buds for a lot of money came in aluminum foil and was all you could find – from CA.

      Fun sort of to reminiscence.

    9. Neal Smith says:

      In Central Indiana, back in the late 60’s, a “Lid” cost $10-$15, of reasonable quality. When the Columbian started coming in, the price went to $35. It did do the job. Now, some of the best can be found for $300-350 an ounce. We most certainly have come a long way…and not much farther to go.

    10. Josh says:

      I am glad there is progress but in my neck of the woods it has always been a take what you can get when you can get it environment. As I have gotten older it has become much harder to make new contacts as the older ones dry up or move along. Now I have no sources. Having been a consumer for well over 40 years I have never lived where you had anything but lower quality. I always thought of myself as experienced until I began reading cannabis sites and I realized I am a novice consumer. I dream of the day I can afford to drive to a state that offers consumers options. I am afraid the attendant will have to be patient with me because I will be weeping as I place my first legal order. I am tearing up now just thinking about it… not exaggerating one bit.