Cannabis culture describes a social atmosphere or series of associated social behaviors that depends heavily upon cannabis consumption, particularly as an entheogen, recreational drug and medicine.
Historically cannabis has been used an entheogen to induce spiritual experiences – most notably in the Indian subcontinent since the Vedic period dating back to approximately 1500 BCE, but perhaps as far back as 2000 BCE. Its entheogenic use was also recorded in Ancient China, the Germanic peoples, the Celts, Ancient Central Asia, and Africa. In modern times, spiritual use of the drug is mostly associated with the Rastafari movement of Jamaica. Several Western subcultures have had marijuana consumption as an idiosyncratic feature, such as hippies, beatniks, hipsters (both the 1940s subculture and the contemporary subculture), ravers and hip hop.
Cannabis has now “evolved its own language, humour, etiquette, art, literature and music.” Nick Brownlee writes: “Perhaps because of its ancient mystical and spiritual roots, because of the psychotherapeutic effects of the drug and because it is illegal, even the very act of smoking a joint has deep symbolism.” However, the culture of cannabis as “the manifestation of introspection and bodily passivity” — which has generated a negative “slacker” stereotype around its consumers — is a relatively modern concept, as cannabis has been consumed in various forms for almost 5,000 years.
The counterculture of the 1960s has been identified as the era that “sums up the glory years of modern cannabis culture,” with the Woodstock Festival serving as “the pinnacle of the hippie revolution in the USA, and in many people’s opinion the ultimate example of cannabis culture at work”. The influence of cannabis has encompassed holidays (most notably 4/20), cinema (such as the exploitation and stoner film genres), music (particularly jazz, reggae, psychedelia and rap music), and magazines including High Times and Cannabis Culture. Cannabis culture has also infiltrated chess culture, whereby the “Bongcloud Attack” denotes a highly risky opening sequence.