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Marijuana and the Movies: A Tale of Two Woodstocks


Article written by Richard Cowan, former NORML National Director and founder of We Vape CBD Oil.


Woodstock”, the documentary based on the 1969 music festival, won an Academy Award for the Best Documentary Feature in 1970. It also grossed over $50 million dollars on a budget of only $600,000, and it bailed out the promoters and Warner Bros. 

It also preserved an important historical and cultural event. The music was amazing and the movie was great fun. It almost didn’t happen, but became the ultimate “happening.’ 

The promoters thought that it would draw a maximum of 50,000, but it ended up being around 400,000. And, yes, there was Sex, Drugs, and Rock n Roll! Meaning marijuana and psychedelics. And mud.

But no violence!


See: How Legalizing Cannabis Can Bring Back the Right Kind of Tourism


Think about a scene where hundreds of thousands of young people overwhelm all of the preparations, and the promoters had given up on even trying to control attendance. And there was no violence.

Remember this was during the height of the Vietnam war, and was less than a year after the bitter 1968 Presidential election in which Nixon was elected. And 1968 was also the year of the assassinations of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy. It was also just a few months after the famous Stonewall riots for gay rights in New York. And yet there was no violence.

Thirty years later at Woodstock 1999, it was an entirely different story. It was held at the decommissioned Griffiss Air Force Base near Rome, N.Y. 

Unlike the 1969 event, where there were no police, the 1999 festival had 500 state troopers in paramilitary riot gear. Surely, then with such precautions, it must have all been peace and love. Well, not exactly… “The law enforcement numbers for Woodstock '99 were terribly grim: 44 arrests, 10,000 people seeking medical treatment, and eight reported rapes.”


Read More: The Day Woodstock '99 Went Down in Flames 


And, of course, in 1999, the dominant drug was beer.

As Syracuse.com described it

Burned out by concert's end: 

1969: An untold amount of marijuana.

1999: a dozen trailers, a Mercedes Benz, a small bus and a number of vendor booths and portable toilets.


See: The War on Drugs Should Not Include Cannabis



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