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From Then ‘Til Now: Music and Marijuana

We can see that Cannabis has shifted from underground whispers and innuendo to mainstream acceptability in the arts.

As long as music has existed, so has the relationship between its creators and their preference of muse-inspiring consumption. We can start way back with Louis Armstrong – one of Jazz’s most influential artists, Armstrong was a household name for his genius on the trumpet spanning five decades from the 1920s to 1960s. He also used those huge lungs to inhale Cannabis between blowing out notes. Arrested outside the Los Angeles Cotton Club in 1930 for smoking a joint – reportedly laughing the night in jail away – Armstrong had no  clue “what a wonderful world” was yet to come for Cannabis.

As Armstrong’s last notes trilled into the ether, Jamaica was about to introduce the world to another Cannabis legend – Bob Marley. A true icon in the culture of Cannabis, Marley smoked partly due to his deep religious Rastafarian beliefs. ‘Ganja’ is a Rastafarian word taken from the Sanskrit language for marijuana, and on the song “Ganja Gun,” the lyrics lay out his deep love and respect for the medicine. Marley’s likeness continues to grace grinders, bongs, pipes and the Marley Natural brand, with his timeless music ringing throughout every storefront.

Another artist you’re likely to hear banging from your dispensary’s speakers is the mighty Black Sabbath. Formed in 1968, Black Sabbath are pioneers of metal and stoner rock. Infamous for both their sound and reputation, Sabbath cemented fear in the hearts of parents around the world when they released their third studio album “Master of Reality” with the ode to Cannabis “Sweet Leaf,” starting with a rhythmic loop of Ozzy and guitarist Tony Iommi coughing from a joint, continued by a Cannabis love letter in musical form.

Then there’s Willie Nelson, a man who truly adores our beloved plant and has written numerous classics on the topic. Nelson’s blend of authentic country sound and an outlaw’s attitude earned him worldwide fame. He smuggled his sound across the borders of genre, and continues to light up a style of music that usually doesn’t see much cultural crossover. Willie cashed the cigarettes and booze in 1978, when four fights with pneumonia – and a self-awareness of not being a kind drunk – turned Cannabis into his one true love. These days, his Willie’s Reserve brand of Cannabis is available across the country.

Next we pass the pipe to Snoop Dogg – perhaps the only man to claim to have smoked 81 blunts in a day and be believed. An artist, advocate and entrepreneur, Snoop helped pave the way for other celebrities to come forth with their own Cannabis use. From his albums, to his Snoop Dogg Pounds glass line, to the Cannabis company Leafs by Snoop,this titan of toking shows no signs of slowing down. 

Much thanks to Snoop, we find the evolution of open lyricism about Cannabis in the music of Wiz Khalifa. Hailing from North Dakota, Wiz has been burning through charts and Cannabis. Releasing records with infused titles like “Kush and Orange Juice” and “Rolling Papers,” Wiz squashes the stigma of  lighting up. Another entrepreneur in both industries, Wiz has launched Khalifa Kush and his own rolling paper collab with RAW. 

Over the years, Cannabis representation in the arts has shifted from underground whispers and innuendo to mainstream acceptability. A modern-day example of this crossover is Margo Price. Born in Illinois and based in Nashville, Price is currently one of country’s biggest rising stars. Grammy nominated in 2019, Margo came out as a Cannabis user stating that “some musicians want to sell clothes on the Home Shopping Network, but I want to sell weed.” And she went on to do just that with her All American Made line supported by Willie’s Reserve. Price’s alignment with Nelson not only brought extra attention to her music, but also bolstered her counterculture image as a pioneer in the Cannabis field. 

With each generation of artists, the public’s embrace of Cannabis progresses like the notes in a scale. Today, we have the legends of yesterday collaborating on music and Cannabusiness with the next class of hitmakers. There’s no telling what the green muse will inspire in the generations to come.