Emergence of Recreational Drugs at TowsonState in the Sixties and SeventiesThe sixties and seventies were a timeof societal upheaval where the youth began a new conception of self-identitythrough rebellion and acceptance of societal taboos. University students turnedto Led Zeppelin over Elvis Presley, started wearing bell-bottoms instead of widecircle skirts, grew their hair long, and moved away from swing dance to themore risqué disco moves like the Hustle. Paralleling with these societalchanges, is the unprecedented rise of peace and equality movements shaping agenerational divide that split the United States into two divisions. The older,more conservative traditionalists contrasted with the younger, counterculturaluniversity students who actively fought for freedom categorizing a generationfocused on self-actualization and liberation. Drugs arose as an outlet foryoung people to experiment and enhance their ability to interact with the world. In the early seventies, the Nixonadministration reacted the growing drug sub-culture with a declaration on theWar on Drugs.
To some who participated in the use of recreational drugs thissparked an insurgence feeling as though “the government’s drug enforcementapparatus was an instrument of repression and that a truly democratic societywould legalize drugs.” (Kurlansky 183) Emergence and expansion of the nationaluse of recreational drugs and alcohol had a profound impact on Towson Statestudents in the sixties and seventies shaping their daily lives and views aboutthe world around them in direct concurrence with the adoption of Nixon’s War onDrugs laws.Showcasing the start of governmentalintervention in health and advisory of United States citizens is the 1964Surgeon General’s Report which outlined how long-term use of smoking is linkedto lung cancer. The publication garnered widespread news coverage and was thereason that many college students and Americans in general, quit smoking. “AGallup Survey conducted in 1958 found that only 44 percent of Americansbelieved smoking caused cancer, while 78 percent believed so by 1968.” (U.S.National Library of Medicine) Smoking cigarettes steadily declined after thisreport and provided further stigma attached to smoking cigarettes.
Federal Cigarette Labeling andAdvertising Act of 1965 required cigarette companies to put health warnings onthe carton. This was the first real push from Congress that showed a desire todiminish the prevalence of smoking. The Public Health Cigarette Smoking Act of1969 “required package warning label— Warning: The Surgeon General HasDetermined that Cigarette Smoking Is Dangerous to YourHealth.”(Legislation) Starting in 1971, cigarette companies wereprohibited from advertising on Television and Radio. (“Nixon signslegislation”) “Salem refreshes your taste,” read anad for Salem cigarettes in 1962 in the Towerlight. In 1978, as a public serviceannouncement, the American Cancer Society ran an ad in the TowerLightannouncing that If someone smokes, they smell and taste repulsive. “Non-smokersare the best people to love. They live longer.
” (American Cancer Society) Thisconveys the massive shift in public attitude towards smoking by the late 1970s.Instead of the plentiful ads that ran in the early 1960s, advocating for theuse of cigarettes, now organizations are doing just the opposite. FederalLegislation severely limiting cigarette company’s role in the lives ofAmerican’s was reflecting in the sharp decrease in prevalence of smoking by thelatter part pf the decade. Widespread protests to the VietnamWar argue that men who were not even old enough to vote were being drafted intoa war that they had no say in. Due to the rampant outrage, in 1971, Congressratified Amendment twenty-six of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 lowering theright to vote from twenty-one to eighteen.
The passage of this constitutionalamendment provided the framework for state legislatures to start lowering thedrinking age to eighteen in many states. In Maryland, the drinking age was twenty-oneup until 1974 when the legislature lowered the drinking age to eighteen forbeer and wine consumption and twenty-one for liquor. The lowering of thedrinking age allowed for almost the whole student body at Towson to legallyparticipate in drinking at bars and purchasing alcohol for consumption.Demonstrating the change in state policy on university students is the emergingplethora of advertisements selling beer and wine to students in The Towerlight.This statute provided the foundation for alcoholic beverage companies to marketdirectly to Towson State students directly through the student newspaper. Twoads on the same page of the Towerlight exemplify this shift in marketingdirectly toward university students. The first, “Educated Beer Tastes PreferBeck’s Imported Beer,” (Beck’s Beer 4) appeals to the intellectual scholarswhile the second, an ad for grenadine syrup, panders to the mediocre studentsthat did not do the best in the last semester, “learn how to make a Tequila Sunrise(this way the semester won’t be a total loss.
)” After giving the recipe, the adreassures the student, “Aint you glad you learned something new this semester.”(Giroux 4) Nixon’s declarationof the War on Drugs in 1971 signaled a policy shift in U.S policy and outlinedhow the government reacted to the rise of a drug culture. President RichardNixon used language in his speech to congress referring to a real war in termsthat would parallel with a real conflict with a foreign power. In his speech toCongress, Nixon said, “America’s public enemy number one in the United Statesis drug abuse.
In order to fight and defeat this enemy, it is necessary to wagea new, all-out offensive.”(Nixon). With the Controlled Substances Act in 1970,the government classified drugs into five categories; schedule 1 being the mostdangerous addictive drugs with no medicinal value to schedule 5, the least dangerous. (FindLaw) Marijuana, LSD, and otherpsychedelics are listed as Schedule 1 drugs even though there is no scientificbasis to the scheduling. Even though two years later the Shaffer Commission recommendedMarijuana should be decriminalized and lowered from Schedule 1, Nixon ignored thereport. (Martin) The report even contended that the laws hurt the public more thanthe drugs themselves. He also reinforced mandatory minimums for drugsentencing, increased federal funding for drug-control agencies, and thecreation of the Special Action Office for Drug Abuse Prevention. The DrugEnforcement Administration is established in 1973 as a single governmental agencyto overseeing all aspects of drug use and consolidate its enforcement.
(“War onDrugs”) Locally, the Baltimore County Chamber of Commerce began a TIP (Turn ina Pusher) program to curb drug use. This anonymous program gave a cash rewardup to five hundred dollars if the tip leads to an arrest and conviction. (“Countystarts anti-drug program.”) The program demonstrates how desperate laws enforcementbecame to try and rid the Towson of the prevalence of drugs. Rapidestablishment of agencies, commissions, new laws restricting drug use, andenlisting harsher punishments for those convicted of drug-related crimes did nothave a significant decrease in drug sentiment or drug use. The plethora of liberal protest movements in the sixties and seventiesallowed for strong responses to the War on Drugs.
Most protest movements hadintersections with anti-war and civil rights movements fighting under theumbrella of progressive issues. Most movements were deep set in the use ofmarijuana as a part of their day-to-day activities and protests. In 1977, Towson State sanctioned Lee Vanderhoff and Susan Vanderhoff theco-directors of NORML or the National Organization for the Reform of MarijuanaLaws as guest speakers. They spoke to Towson State Young Democrats about potdecriminalization refusing to speak to anyone under the age of 18 andreaffirmed their stance on not advocating the use of drugs.
The Vanderhoffsargue that the Legislatures are misinformed, and should decriminalize an ounceor less of marijuana with a petty fine as punishment. Backing up theirargument, they reason that jail is irrational and ten million dollars of taxpayer money is being used to prosecute non-violent criminals. (Braves 4) NORMLwas one of the leading groups in the United States that tried to lobbylegislatures and end the drug war through passage of bills in federal and statelegislatures. In 1978, TSU NORML was recognized as a Student GovernmentAssociation by an almost unanimous vote. (Mayne) They would rally for protestsand lobby in the Maryland State Legislature for decriminalization laws. Another protest group, the Yippies! were famous for theatricaldemonstrations through the medium of comedy to advance the interests of thecounterculture movement.
Their protests involved radical uses of allegory andirony with a shock-value evoking gasps among conservatives. Among their mostfamous theatrics is the initiation of Smoke-Ins all over the country in theseventies as a response to anti-pot laws. About four hundred people showed up in April of 1978 to the 1st annualSpiro Agnew Memorial Smoke-In at Wyman Park “protesting ant-pot laws in opendefiance’s” (Whistler 9) Sponsored by the Yippies!, the protest involved music,speeches, art, and even breast painting as Towson State Students smokedpre-rolled Columbian joints provided free of charge by the Yippies!.
TheSmoke-In demanded “an end to all marijuana laws, immediate freedom andretribution for all imprisoned, and a weekly stash of marijuana for every man,woman, and child in the U.S. for the next 40 years – the same number of yearsthat the weed has been kept illegal.” (Whistler 9) Although there was heavypolice presence with a helicopter circling Wyman Park, police followed ano-bust strategy thus avoiding a confrontation between students and police.
During the Yippies!’ famous smoke-ins, police would often not intervene becauseof the sheer presence of people. When hundreds of protesters are bunchedtogether, there is safety-in-numbers. (Weigant) The Yippies used exaggerationand often created direct confrontation to advance their causes. Spiro Agnew was Maryland’s Republican Governor ten years prior. Duringthe 1968 Baltimore Riots after Martin Luther King Jr.’s death, Agnew called inthe National Guard leading to mass arrests.
Agnew invited about one hundredcivil rights leaders to a conference in which he pleaded with the leadersexplaining, “I call upon you to publicly repudiate, condemn and reject allblack racists.” (Agnew) Remarks made in this speech only isolated andinfuriated the very community he vowed to protect when running forgovernor. Due to Spiro T. Agnew’s lawand order stance during the riots, Agnew was handpicked by Nixon in 1968 to behis vice president.
Under Nixon, Agnewwaged a war on “moral pollution” of rock music, books, and movies. During arepublican dinner he explained how Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit” and TheBeatle’s “With a Little Help From My Friends” brainwashed youth into the drugculture combined with an unspoken nudge for censorship to curtail the rise inthe use of drugs. (Naughton) After reelection, in 1973 Agnew resigned due tonewly exposed evidence of corruption. (“Vice President Agnew resigns”) Celebratingthe “memoriam” or the end of a career, of a man who aided the efforts to haltthe counterculture movement and the rise of drugs with such an open and illegaldemonstration in the very city Agnew ran allowed for a clear response to theanti-drug sentiment. The Yippies! clever irony, demonstrated the effectiveability to provide double meaning to protests using a disgraced public figureto convey their frustration of Nixon’s War on Drugs.As well as national groups getting involved with university students,local and Towson State sanctioned organizations responded the A student groupon Towson State’s Campus, The Brotherhood of Man frequently posted articles inthe Towerlight as a group committed to a safe, peaceful drug experience.
“TheBrotherhood’s services include individual, family and group counseling; drugeducation, drug analysis, crisis intervention, referrals, and a speaker’sbureau.” (Brotherhood of Man 4) Through spreading information and informing thestudent body about prevalent drugs on campus, The Brotherhood of Man was ableto create knowledgeable drug users that potentially saved lives. On October 6,1972, in The Towerlight, Roy Tawsill of the Brotherhood of Man wrote an articletitled “Dangers of Overdose.” He outlines how to identify symptoms of abarbiturate overdose while describing how to help the person who overdosed.
Heeven explains how to not get caught by the police when asking authorities forhelp. At the end of the article, Tawsill provides students with a number toreach the Brotherhood of Man at 823-HELP. This number was used as a resourcefor students that needed help or requested general information regarding drugs.
In Stephens Hall in 1974, the Brotherhood of Man provided a lecture onaltered states of consciousness and the psychology of psychedelic drugexperiences in an attempt to lessen the number of devastating trips for users.(Brotherhood of Man 7) The Brotherhood provided meaningful and usefulpresentations aiding students with the emergence of recreational drugs. As a public service, the Brotherhood of Man offered free drug testing. Inthe Towerlight, Roy Tawsill wrote an article outlining what the user thoughtthe drug was with physical characteristics, and what the real drug was afterthe drug tests. One brown tablet, sold as “Chocolate Mescaline” was actually acombination of PCP and LSD. “If you’ve got any questions about PCP or you havesome strange substance you’d like analyzed, or you just want to rap to somepeople why don’t you drop by the Brotherhood of Man at 101 E. Joppa Rd. It’sopen 7 p.
m. to 1 a.m. every night.” (“Brotherhood lists dangers of PCP”) Thisservice that the student group provided is a huge beneficiary to students whilefostering an environment that does not condone drug use in theory but nurturesa campus toward less incidences of trips gone wrong. Services provided by the Brotherhood of Man were well-known on campus. In 1978, an article in the summer edition ofThe Towerlight, describes a fictional Tom Robinson frantically searching forthe phone to call the Brotherhood of Man when finding his brother using anunknown substance that makes his mouth crackle and pop.
Instead of gettinghigh, the brother was using Space Dust, a crushed candy that fizzes and buzzeswhen it hits saliva. (Robinson 6) This narrative about the new food crazedemonstrates the trust that students instilled in the Brotherhood of Man to aidwith fast medical care regarding drug trips and a secure source for students tocall when in trouble. Instead of calling the police or medical personnel, theBrotherhood of Man was the most trusted source for Tom to call in an emergency. When new synthetic drugs becamemore available and students got more curious, there was widespreadmisinformation and uninformed drug users. A section of the Towerlight dedicatedto students asking a doctor medical advice, “The Doctor’s Bag,” demonstratedthe misinformed public about the drug, LSD. A worrisome fiancé asked Dr. ArnoldWerner whether using LSD and mescaline (a drug derived from peyote plantsimilar to LSD) would have an effect on their children’s chromosomes.
Wernerassured the student that the unfounded scientific studies that claimed theseresults lacked controls and were proven to be false. Werner explains that theriskiest aspect of LSD, is “the number of adulterants in the materials beingpurchased.” (Werner 4) Also, cocaine, which gained prominence in the 70s hadthe widespread belief of not being addictive with no harmful effects to thebody. “Dr. Peter Bourne, drug advisor toJimmy Carter and Special Assistant for Health Issues, wrote, ‘Cocaine…isprobably the most benign of illicit drugs currently in widespread use. At leastas strong a case could be made for legalizing it as for legalizing marijuana.
Short-acting…not physically addicting, and acutely pleasurable, cocaine hasfound increasing favor at all socioeconomic levels.” (DEA) Health andgovernment officials were even under the façade that cocaine was not dangerousphysically or psychologically. Since the high of cocaine lasts less than anhour, dangerously, users would take several hits to return to the originalhigh. By the late 1970s, this led to the consumption of large amounts ofcocaine leading to addiction with harmful health effects trickling down to allclasses of people. Misinformation about cocaine furthers the supposition thatthe swift emergence of drug culture caused widespread distortion of a varietyof drugs and their effects on the human body. Widening the generational gap,self-exploration through drugs, sex, and rock music aligned with the newacceptance of social taboos among university students. In the late sixties,university students had a new morality and “the things youth were doingrepresented nothing less than a complete alteration in the values and mores ofsociety.
” (Kurlansky 191) There was a rise of a specific youth culture separatefrom adults. This youth culture represented a complete turn around from theconservative generations before them. Using drugs, participating in protestmovements, and listening to racy rock music contributed to this rift. The rise of psychedelia influencedthe greater transparency among rock stars about drug use, essentially engaging inendorsements for specific drugs. Grateful Dead concerts provided a communalsetting for people to use drugs openly without fear.
Deadheads would go toGrateful Dead shows and drop acid as a right of passage. Santana took LSDbefore their famous Woodstock Performance. Jefferson Airplane’s music provideda foundation for a trip. The music of the time provoked a stream ofconsciousness that went hand-in-hand with new mind-altering rugs like LSD.
The Beatles experimented with LSD which led totheir album, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. A song on that album, “Witha Little Help from My Friends”, referenced getting high. Almost all of thebands were using marijuana. Fleetwood Mac, Rolling Stones, The Eagles, Iggy Popall had albums and stage antics that were undoubtedly influenced by cocaine.
Not to mention the amount of marijuana consumed by bands of the sixties andseventies. Bill Hicks summed up the effect of drugs on music, “if you don’tbelieve drugs have done good things for us, do me a favor. Go home tonight.Take all your albums, all your tapes and all your CDs and burn them.” Thepeople buying these albums, going to concerts, and idolizing the rock stars,were university students. It is undeniable that young people resisted theeffects of drug culture.
They were active participants, using these very albumsas backdrops to their drug experiences. As university students aged intodecades with an emphasis on peace, freedom, and equality, the paralleledmovements such as the anti-war, civil rights, and sexual revolution provided afoundation for a rise in the aspiration to experiment with drugs openly andfreely in society. Through protest movements, influence of popular music, newscientific evidence, Nixon’s War on Drugs, and the spread of information aboutdrugs through the Brotherhood of Man, the rise of recreational drug usesignificantly impacted the lives of Towson State Students in the sixties andseventies.