I recently traveled through time. No, it’s not like that one time we smoked several blunts in my college dorm room’s closet and I convinced my friends that the closet had turned into Bill and Ted’s excellent phone booth. This time I really DID travel in time. I put on my beloved caftan, fired up my vape (while pretending it was a jay), and delved deep into the cannabis culture of the late ’70s and early ’80s. I didn’t even have to use any gigawatts! All I had to do was download all 10 issues of Homegrown magazine, Europe’s classic cannabis culture periodical, which creator Lee Harris published from 1977 to 1982 and recently archived online.
The cannabis culture presented in Homegrown is eerily similar to today’s cannabis culture. Like MERRY JANE, Homegrown writers covered topics like marijuana legalization, medical uses, racism, the paranormal, music, and more.
Every issue starts with a simple greeting from Harris: “High.” And it gets even better from there. Here are 10 must-see articles and illustrations from the annals of Homegrown.
“The Ganja of Love,” translated by Bhaskar Bhattachary (Vol. 1)
With a classic combo of illustration, prose, and tales of “mystic bards,” this piece kicked my time traveling trip off right. Translated from an ancient song about how great ganja is—plus instructions on how to smoke it—it’s basically an educational children’s song for stoners. (Question: who does one contact about becoming a mystic bard?)
A close second from this volume was a photo spread of naked dudes smoking joints—soooo European! #uncircumcised
“Confusion Intrusion Anxiety,” by Michael Marten (Vol. 2)
I love conspiracy theories and this article DELIVERS. This piece discusses several CIA plots, such as Project MKUltra, the purpose of which was “to research and develop chemical, biological, and radiological materials capable of employment in clandestine operations to control human behaviour.” Another study about LSD concluded that LSD-infused aerosol spray cans would not make effective weapons. (But they would probably make really fun party gifts!)
“Close Encounters,” by Lee Torrey (Vol. 3)
UFOs. Cults. A psychic name Joan. This article has all of my favorite things. In my dreams I have already made this into a made-for-TV movie.
A close second from this volume is an article on the “Headlines” page that starts with “Warlocks are back in the news again.” [SPOILER: There’s some grave-robbing and skull-stealing involved!]
The Prison Letters of Danny de Souza (Vol. 4)
Danny de Souza, a Londoner who was busted in Turkey in 1975 and charged with importing five kilos of hashish, was sentenced to 18 years in prison. His letters paint a harrowing picture of life in Turkish prison, with “daily knifings” and a murder rate of one per month. [SPOILER: His pen-pal was nice enough to send him a guitar, so at least he got to rock out sometimes.]
A close second from this volume is this cartoon of a cat.
Let me take a moment to mention how KICK-ASS the advertisements are. It’s like if Don Draper from Mad Men was a pothead instead of an alcoholic—they are THAT GOOD. Here are a few of my faves.
Question: What is the “Power Hitter”? What does it do? Why does it look like a beautiful ketchup bottle to smoke weed out of? And one of the colorways GLOWS IN THE DARK, you guys.
Also, I need all of the clothing from Attar, STAT.
“A Jazz Man’s View of Dope,” by George Melly (Vol. 5)
This essay taught me about Louis Armstrong and Bessie Smith’s relationship with Mary Jane, the intersection of racism and marijuana, and lots of cool new names for weeeeed, like muggles, Mary Warner, gage, and shuz-zit. Unlike racism, these names are no longer in use.
“Alien to Alien,” by Patti Smith (Vol. 6)
As I was reading, vaping, and consuming a box of white wine, I thought to myself, “Where are all the ladies in this magazine?” And finally, in Vol. 6, Patti Smith appeared to me in a Chardonnay-fueled fever dream. Her essay is part poetry, part narrative, and begins like this: “it was all a dream, i hadn’t washed my hair for forty days for forty nights.” And thus the scene is set for the prose to come. If you buy only one issue of Homegrown, please let it be this one, for this rad piece of writing from an historical badass.
“Spaced Out in Amsterdam,” by Bryan Talbot (Vol. 7)
This epic illustrated adventure is a mix of Robert Crumb and Edward Gorey-ish ink drawings that tells the tale of a dude partying in Amsterdam. It covers three pages and contains drugs, booze, and even cartoon titties (a truly timeless art).
A close second from this volume is “The 1st Legal Cannabis Smoker in the West,” by Robert Randall, the pioneering patient who successfully used marijuana to treat his glaucoma.
“I Get Paid For Paranoia,” by Anonymous, from William Novak’s High Culture: Marijuana in the Lives of Americans (Vol. 8)
This anonymous essay is written by a pot dealer (who happens to be a lady) and is a super engaging read. If you’ve ever wanted to know what it’s like behind the green curtain, then this essay is for you. The illustration is by Mikki Rain, which is the coolest name for an illustrator EVER. She’s still around making neato art, and you should check it out.
“HOODOO, VOODOO, and BOOHOO – Part One: Herbaceous Borders of the Mind – The Story of Man, Magic, and Mind Trips,” by Harry Shapiro (Vol. 9)
WARNING: This one’s by far the spookiest piece in Homegrown, so be sure to read it while eating lots of Halloween candy. It’s all about witchcraft/magic plus drugs throughout the ages and has a part about drunk Greek women eating men alive and a magical vaginal ointment that causes visions of flying on a broomstick. THIS ESSAY RULES SO HARD.
This entrancing page of spooky-ass art by Peter Dawson accompanies the essay, making it even better. Whatever you do, DON’T GET LOST ON THE STAIRCASE….
The selected poems of Kim Whybrow (Vol. 10)
There’s a lot of poetry featured in Homegrown, and yet MERRY JANE still hasn’t published any of my limericks…. My favorite poems are the ones by Kim Whybrow. Kim was an artsy stoner dude who died tragically in a car crash at the age of 22. He left behind hundreds of poems, many of which speak of higher planes of consciousness. One titled “Just a Holiday” tells the story of a human tired of being reincarnated over and over again. After complaining to the “clerk” and to Jesus, Christ offers to switch places with him. It sounds more Christian-y than it is—I’m a pagan, so don’t worry—and ends with: “Peace little Brother, you’re just into the role—there’s nothing to fear, just a misplaced soul. It’s there inside you—just look around. Me? I’m off on vacation in the City of Coloured Sound!”
Sounds like a fun place! I wonder if I can use my miles to get there….
To download all 10 issues of Homegrown costs £80 (or about $104), and it is WORTH IT. The kindly picture of creator Lee Harris made me want to not only give him my money but also make a giant cannabis cake and send it to him. Harris is the gentle ganja guardian who nurtured cannabis culture in Europe and his impact is still felt to this day.
Reading Homegrown made me appreciate how far cannabis culture has come. Yes, there is still a long way to go, but currently I’m able to legally vape while reading a magazine online that was deemed a “horror on the bookshelves and threat to your children” not so long ago.
Visit the Homegrown website to get your own little nuggets of history today.