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Rhythms and Reefer: The Role of Cannabis in Music History

By trovecannabis | | Cannabis Info, Education

Music is one of the best gifts we’ve been given. It’s transformative. You could be in the worst mood ever, but when your favorite jam comes on you’re all of a sudden elevated, transformed, and (hopefully) in a much better head space. 

Cannabis is no different. Cannabis can help your mood, body aches, and launch you into a different frame of mind. 

So what happens when you put the two together? Pure magic.

Music + MJ

Music and cannabis are a power couple. Think peanut butter and jelly, mac and cheese, or SpongeBob and Patrick. While one is great on its own, putting them together moves mountains. 

In this blog post, we’ll chat about the history of music and cannabis and highlight famous musicians who use cannabis.

Why Music Sounds Better High

Did you know that THC activates the part of the brain that is responsible for processing sound? Known as CB1 receptors, these cannabinoids get all hyperactive under the influence of the ganja and can actually help the high listener focus more on the present moment. This allows for more of a heightened experience when listening to music.

The History of Music & Cannabis

The relationship between weed and beats is as multifaceted and intricate as the cultures who have embraced both. This dynamic duo, which is deeply rooted in the social, political, and creative arenas, has evolved epically over the past centuries. From the jazz clubs of the early 20th century to the 90s hip-hop scene and ancient civilizations to the current licks of pop music cannabis has acted as a muse and companion to musicians and genres for damn near always. 

Jazz Clubs

New Orleans and Harlem were hotbeds for jazz and culture in the 1920s and 1930s. Weed in those eras was known as “muggles” (not to be confused with the Harry Potter Muggle) or “reefer”, and was all the rage. Legends like Louis Armstrong, Cab Calloway, and Duke Ellington weren’t just incredible jazz musicians, they were also OGs in the weed scene. Armstrong, specifically, did not shy away from his love of herb by saying it was key to his vibe and artistry.

“[Armstrong] probably turned more people on to pot than anybody else in the world.”

Armstrong’s friend and photographer Jack Bradley.

Check out: Louis Armstrong – Muggles

Counterculture Waves

Fast forward a bit to the 1960s; a revolutionary time all about shaking up the system, civil rights movements, and a counterculture that was here to flip the script. Music was the soul of this revolution, with heavy hitters like Bob Dylan, The Beatles, and Jimi Hendrix. Woodstock, a free music festival in the late 60s, appealed to audiences across the globe by promoting getting high on peace, love, music – and weed, of course. It’s well known that weed was one of the headliners of Woodstock and was rumored to be in better supply than water.

Check out: Jimi Hendrix – Purple Haze

Hip-Hop and Rap

When Hip Hop hit the scene in the 1980s and 1990s, listeners’ minds were blown and changed for the better. With major players like Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, and Cypress Hill, hip-hop embraced the love of the sticky icky by promoting it and shifting the view of the listener which helped pave the way for legalization. 

Check out: 50 Cent – High All The Time


We’re going to bust the stereotype that country music is just for stories about heartbreak, working, and hunting. Country music has acted as a platform for many well-known musicians to promote and advocate weed. Ever heard of Willie Nelson? Of course you have. Willie is the poster granddaddy for cannabis advocation and even has his own weed brand. Along with Willie, Kris Kristofferson (a fellow member of The Highwaymen alongside Willie) has also been an outspoken champion of pot through his music and public speaking engagements. These weed warriors have mixed classic country soul with laid-back weed culture, busting stereotypes and showing there’s room in country music for a little herb-inspired rebellion.

Check out: Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard – It’s All Going to Pot

Reggae Music

Okay, we might need to amend our nomination of “Best Dynamic Duo” to reggae music and ganja. Deeply rooted in Rastafarian culture where weed is considered sacred and a gateway to spiritual awakenings and one-love vibes, reggae is possibly the most memorable genre when it comes to music and cannabis. Icons like Bob Marley didn’t just sing reggae, they spread the green word through song making it a symbol of peace and healing. These songs are soaked to the gills in weed wisdom, preaching about its power and place in the fight for freedom and equality. 

Check out: Bob Marley – Kaya

Pop Music

Love it or hate it, pop music is deeply immersed in the green scene. Big names like Lady Gaga, Rihanna, and Miley Cyrus aren’t just hitting all the high notes, they’re hitting the notes while high AND spotlighting our favorite flower. This kind of spotlight does more than provide entertainment to our ear holes, it has helped shift the vibe around weed, making it less taboo and more accepted. Nothing to hate there.

Check out: Rihanna – James Joint

From the sultry jazz clubs of the 20s to the global stages of today, cannabis has been used as a muse, a catalyst for creativity, and a symbol of peace and love. As we continue fumbling around on a rock floating in space, the relationship between cannabis and music will continue to evolve and provide a platform for weed promotion and further legalization. 

We very much look forward to hearing what’s next for music and cannabis, and can’t wait to vibe out to future pot playlists.


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