When Bob Dylan Turned the Beatles On To Marijuana


Move more than 420. August 28th really should be a national cannabis vacation.

On that day in 1964, folk legend Bob Dylan ascended the elevator of the Delmonico Hotel on Park Avenue in Manhattan for a momentous initial meeting with the Beatles, who have been touring the United States. Beatlemania was then at its peak, and twenty police stood guard in the corridor as Dylan and his entourage entered the Beatles’ sixth-floor hotel suite.

Right after an exchange of courtesies, Dylan recommended that they all smoke some grass. He was shocked to understand that the Beatles have been marijuana virgins. Dylan had a bag of weed with him and he attempted to roll a joint. But Bob was all thumbs, so his driver and close pal Victor Maymudes did the deed. Blinds have been drawn and towels meticulously placed prior to locked doors to hide the smell. Dylan lit a reefer and a handful of minutes later every person was laughing uproariously.

“We have been type of proud to have been introduced to pot by Dylan,” Paul McCartney later remarked. “That was rather a coup.”

Cannabis was fairly distinct from the purple hearts and other uppers that the Beatles had taken to hold pace with the rigors of the late-evening club circuit in Germany and the UK. Marijuana eased them into a soft however lively space, a cushioned reprieve from the bizarre fishbowl sensation—the hysterical fans, the continual media attention—that accompanied their vertiginous rise to rock stardom. From that day forward, the Beatles would consume cannabis on a typical basis. And anytime John Lennon felt like having stoned, he would say, “Let’s ’ave a larf!”

Right after the Beatles got into grass, they started to feel of themselves as artists, not just performers. The herb triggered a inventive surge that altered their strategy to writing and recording songs. (“We have been smoking marijuana for breakfast,” Lennon jibed.) Cannabis opened the door to new dimensions of well-liked music, and the Beatles carried the youth of the globe with them across the psychoactive threshold.

Many Beatle songs contained subtle and not-so-subtle allusions to cannabis. “Got to Get You into My Life,” 1 of a number of weed-inspired tunes on the Beatles’ Revolver album, was “entirely about pot,” according to McCartney, who acknowledged that marijuana had a massive effect on the Fab 4 in the mid-Sixties.

Drug references on the Beatles subsequent album, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, have been much more explicit. Ringo Starr rhapsodized about “getting higher with a small help” from his good friends. McCartney “had a smoke” and “went into a dream.” And Lennon cooed: “I’d enjoy to turn you on.”

“Do you know what brought on Pepper?” McCartney told a reporter. “In 1 word, drugs. Pot.”

“But you weren’t on it all the time.”

“Yes, we have been. Sgt. Pepper was a drug album,” McCartney insisted.

The BBC proceeded to ban a number of of the songs from its playlist, such as “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” on the grounds that they promoted the use of illegal drugs. This ungainly try to censor the Beatles, who have been at the zenith of their influence, underscored Britain’s befuddled — some may say schizoid —attitude toward marijuana and its most influential proponents. The Beatles, just after all, had not too long ago been honored by the Queen of England. Lennon would later say they smoked bud in the bathroom at Buckingham Palace.

Cannabis had been banned in Fantastic Britain considering that 1928, and recreational reefer remained on the margins, confined mostly to Caribbean migrants, till flower energy blossomed in Merry Olde England. The Beatles have been at the forefront of efforts legalize cannabis. In 1967, they paid for a controversial, complete-web page advertisement in The Occasions of London, which criticized Britain’s marijuana laws as “immoral in principle and unworkable in practice.”

Especially, the ad named upon the British government to:

  • enable scientific study into cannabis
  • eliminate cannabis from the list of unsafe drugs and make possession punishable by a fine
  • permit the use of cannabis in private premises
  • and release every person imprisoned for marijuana possession.

The ad was signed by sixty-5 British dignitaries, such as two members of Parliament, a dozen prominent physicians and clergymen, quite a few writers and artists, a Nobel laureate scientist, and the 4 Beatles.

The following year, the British Parliament’s Advisory Committee on Drug Dependence released a complete study, recognized as the Wootton Report, which sparked a heated public debate by providing cannabis some thing extremely close to a clean bill of wellness. Headed by Baroness Wootton of Abinger, a social scientist of good repute, the advisory committee concluded that “the lengthy-term consumption of cannabis in moderate doses has no damaging effects” and “the law is socially damaging, if not unworkable.”

Marijuana is “very a great deal significantly less unsafe than opiates, amphetamines, and barbiturates, and also significantly less unsafe than alcohol [and] it is the character of the user, rather than the properties of the drug, that is most likely to lead to progression to other drugs,” the Wootton Report asserted.

These who had turn out to be habituated to viewing marijuana as a beastly menace have been mortified by the report. As quickly as Baroness Wootton presented her study, stodgy British officials denounced its findings. For the Beatles and millions of their pot-smoking fans, it was just an additional day in the life.

This report is adapted from Smoke Signals: A Social History of Marijuana – Health-related, Recreational and Scientific by Martin A. Lee, director of Project CBD.

Copyright, Project CBD. May possibly not be reprinted without permission.


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