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

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.

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35 thoughts

  1. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. What I would like to know is if you have a pain contract with your doctor will they still consider it a street drug when they want to UA to check and make sure you have pain meds in your system?

  10. From dirt weed to Maui Wowy to Kine bud Lemon Diesel, indeed we have witnessed the dawn of the Green Age.
    What I find particularly ironic is while we’re all celebrating the Rennaissance of Cannabis, we have been warning our leaders to refrain from the corruption of asset forfeitures and unjust cannabis prosecutions… Warning them all these generations we’ve been jailing too much for too long and to end the circular firing squad and legalize cannabis.
    But instead, here in Texas, we incarcerate 90,000 citizens per year for non violent, small marijuana posessions, we separate families for profit when they consume cannabis even for life saving medicine and asset forfeitures for San Antonio alone last year exceeded 80 million dollars.
    The irony? I guess Alcohol abuse from the DA is okay.
    Our District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg was caught driving the wrong way up 360 in Austin with an open bottle of Vodka and prescription medication, went crazy on law enforcement, served 22 days in jail and a year later she’s still our DA!! What if she had been caught with marijuana instead? How would she have been prosecuted? Oh yeah, she wouldnt have been driving the wrong way drunk up 360…
    And the encore? Governor Rick Perry gets a mugshot today for coersively cutting 7 million dollars from Lehmberg’s Corruption Investigation unit… The same unit that investigates the Governor’s office, and needs to be investigating the useless enforcement of marijuana prohibition. (Hey, didnt Cuomo in New York do something similar to this? I mean without the drunken bat out of Hell for a DA)…
    Watching the end of prohibition is like watching a bunch of Great White sharks cannabilize themselves into a bloody pulp of chum, leaving our grandchildren to contemplate what the hell prohibition was all about as they vaporize some evening bud over some hemp seed burgers in their homes and vehicles built and fueled entirely out of hemp… And only mugshots and memories will remain…

  11. In Texas u dont get high grad cannabis. The mexican brick wed is still the nummer one seller. U dont get to pick which grad u want eather u buy what they have. Or u dont buy it at all. But if u want to say u can buy very low grad smoke Ill give u that. And O/Z goes for $50.00 In Corpus Christi. We use to pay $10.00 per o/z till the 1978-79.

  12. Keith,I admire the endurance you’ve displayed over many years.I like yourself started smoking weed in the 60s.in NY. The stories we could tell each other would be quit inspiring. I’m all on my own now,and am about to move to Dumsmuir,Ca. Looking to be productive in the growing industry. I have good friends there that grow. Making a cross country trip in the middle of sept. I know your a busy guy,and probably wouldn’t have time to read this,but I just wanted to say I’ve lived a similar life. You know your going down in the history books.

  13. Back in 69 I was able to get “Columbian Red” for $20 and if it was “Trip Weed” $35. I agree about the drought, but it wasn’t as bad in FLA. During tight times the “Mex Dirt” and the “Jamaican Fluff” were awful, the dirt was a total rip and the Fluff gave you a bogus headache.

  14. 40 years ago we had a variety of smoke that was grown and imported into the U.S.The prices varied depending on quality and availability.Over the years some very potent strains that have been hybridized with a few individuals growing them mostly in either medical or legalized states.The other states see very little of these potent strains as the black market supplies them.Growing is about making money not quality.This tells me that regulation is working in these medical/legal states and not everyone has the talent to grow potent strains.

  15. Premium USDA Organic Certified buds in 500+ different varieties/strains selling OTC in every U.S. state for $50/z or less – that’s what we should all be pushing/fighting/voting for. We’re all pathetic that we can’t get it together and make it happen NOW. If you try to take alcohol, cigarettes and guns away from people, they’ll blow a gasket, they’d never let it happen. But they took weed away and nobody cared enough to stop/reverse it, so now it’s illegal and we can’t get it back. Serves us right for allowing it to be taken away in the first place, we’re all idiots. What percentage of people need to support full-scale legalization for it to become nationally legalized? FYI, Henry Rollins Traces the Racist Origins of Marijuana Prohibition – http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/henry-rollins-traces-the-racist-origins-of-marijuana-prohibition-20140815

  16. @Douglas & Anonymous,
    Even Texas is pushing more legally purchased medicinal varieties out of Colorado than the Mexican brick varieties that still circulate just to keep up with demand.
    Who wants to pay for some transported, illegal, moldy brick from Mexico that supports cartels and the whole prison-industrial complex when you have a potent, clean, pesticide-free bud from Colorado that can last much longer when consumed through a vaporizer or a small one-hitter?
    It’s like the first time you stop wearing a condom or eating fresh vegetables for the first time; You can’t go back to the can!!!

  17. Who needs the black market when you can grow your own. I grew tired,and frustrated with the black market around 1994, and quit for several years. But I did eventually save enough money to start my own grow. Take my advice, its the best move you can make.

  18. My experiences in NM in the ’70s were very similar to other posters here. A lid (whether 4 fingers or 3) never cost more than $10–that is, until Columbo hit the streets. That went for $15 a lid; then eventually to $20.

    I still remember driving around with some friends in the 1970s and picking up a hitch-hiker. He asked us if we wanted to score a lid. We said yes, and he said, “$15” and we almost threw him out of the car. We dropped him off without scoring from him! $15 for Mex? What a rip off we all said after depositing him.

    The Mex weed out here in those days varied–sometimes almost crap, sometimes damned good. And the Columbo was usually good.

    Thai sticks and Hawaiian sensi were around too–some of the earlier exotics (at least in my experiences) and they were as good as anything today, I’m here to tell you.

    I lived in CA in the ’80s and found the situation completely different, again, at least for me. MJ was far tougher to acquire–seems everyone had coke, but almost no one had pot–until I finally found a good connection. He sold Mex and chronic, and I usually scored 2/3 Mex and 1/3 chronic–some icing on the cake.

    Back to NM in the ’90s, and the situation was again mixed for me. (I hated going through personal “connections,” because sometimes I felt like I was being a “bother.” That’s what happens sometimes when you’re in your 50s or 60s and your connections are 20-30 years younger.) That’s why I can hardly wait for legalization!!

  19. oh, back in the day..late 70’s..fla ..anyone here of Myakka gold?..oh what a great buzz it was. little expenso for the day but, so well worth it. actually golden in color would have some different colors running through it….clean, tasty. didn’t take much. a local operation where they would float it down the river and the oaks would cover it. awesome operation. they did get nabbed eventually but, was the finest central fla ever had. I know many will always miss it!

  20. @ Josh,

    Brother, I feel for you. I’m turning 60 this year, and, like you, I’ve seen my “contacts” dwindle over the years. Unless you have someone in your family, a nephew, son or whatever, it can sometimes get tough to find.

    I hope you can somehow save up some bucks to visit Colo or Wash some day; otherwise, I hope some state not too far from you legalizes in the not-too-far future. I live in NM, just below Colo, so the drive wasn’t too far. But it was truly worth it; like being in a candy store. My eyes didn’t tear up, but it was a feeling of freedom almost unimaginable.

    Hang in there buddy.

  21. Great article, Keith, and one that is a little amusing for me as I wrote a nearly identically themed article about a year ago titled “The Changing of the Cannabis Quo,” which hits upon precisely the same ideas and memories you outline here.

    We have come a long way, but we’ve got a long way to go. See you there!

  22. Everything you wrote is so true. I do miss the exotic strains but am proud hat the ugh homegrown of the past has given way to spectacular bud from the USA.

  23. @Russ Hudson – I checked out your website.

    Wow, really cool!!! It’s just the kind of evidence the prohibitionists hate to see since it further proves that marijuana does not make one stupid or lazy. It took a lot of intelligence and motivation to have put that site together.

    I’ll be 58 next month and have been using cannabis since age 15. That didn’t stop me from serving in the marines and moving on to work as a civilian in electronics and computer programming. Still, that’s just not good enough for some people…

  24. Thanks, Miles! And thank you for your service as well.

    I also served in the military, earning a number of awards and meritorious promotions while in the USN, and I was a cannabis user then too.

    The stereotypical marijuana user doesn’t exist, as far as I can tell. If anything, marijuana empowers me in many ways to be highly motivated, organized, insightful (and at times incite-full) and balanced.

    Thankfully, like Keith says, we’ve come a long way and I suspect that the momentum cannot be stopped now. 😉

  25. Some of the best weed I got in the 70’s was Black Columbian and Thai. Those two completely vanished in the 80’s and to this day I still hope to see it again.
    Back then I scored from and indian driving an old beat up chevy and he always had decent mexican lids and something special if yo had some extra money to spend. Usually by the joint.
    I miss the days of gently peeling away the hemp string on that Thai, my hands trembling a bit with anticipation. Now I live in the land of plenty (California) with a rockin dispensary right around the corner, but I still miss that Thai.

  26. This was a joy to read. Having only consumed for about 10 years, I’ve always wondered what it was like before the modern times. I can’t imagine how frustrating unreliable dealers were before Cell Phones. I mean, without instant communication Everywhere, much more coordination would have been required. I think kids take this for granted. I think, today, it’d be rare to find someone young who smoked before they dialed a cell phone, and it will soon become an impossibility.

  27. I still remember the Mexican brick weed, that we would score in the 90s.They all had their distinct, familiar smells and flavors that we begin to recognize,even though our connection never had labels for them.”its just weed dude’.The most common one ,we called the “apple’,because it had a sweet -tart apple smell, with a touch of cinnamon,tasted like it too.Another common terpene smell was what we would call the “banana’,because the buds where usually golden and had a faint smell of banana bread.Who knows,these regional land-race strains probably evolved from areas that where tropical enough to actually grow bananas.And then another strain i remember,was sort of purple and smelled like what a concord grape would taste like,the high was real clear and motivating,there was no lethargy with it, like some of the medical, Indica-hybrids that we have today.The sad part was, we took it for granted,because it wasn’t “Skunk”,witch was the ‘status weed’ at the time.

  28. In Mississippi dirty maybe even moldy and super compressed. 25 to 35 dollars a gram for anything half way decent. No special name just seedless. Not that great every where some crazy moonshine

  29. The part where you said the election of marijuana on the black market is outstanding, is bullshit! It’s a very small selection with very shitty quality bud that is over priced!

  30. This is interesting stuff from an aussie perspective,remarkable things are happening(finally). I hope our pollies will see the light soon,and have the balls to legalize what should never have been illegal. I just hope I live long enuf to have a small legal garden.40+yrs tokin’,I hope this is the beginning of the end,for all the bullshit.

  31. I recall the days of yore. Buying mex for $15/oz.. Columbian for 35/oz. then in Western IA a friend was doing a home grown we got for about 45/qtr/lb..

    Oh the old days. Wish I had some of the original strains from the pre-paraquat days.

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