By Don Lattin
It could happen on Tuesday, finally: The end of the '60s counterculture.
All of us aging hippies and unrepentant cannabis connoisseurs will be forced to face the fact that "we" are "them." If California's Proposition 19 passes, legalizing the recreational use of marijuana, we must face the (rock) music and accept that the counterculture is now the mainstream culture.
There have been warning signs for years. Bill Clinton, the first baby-boomer president, broke the ice when he admitted having smoked pot. But then, in one of the defining moments of his political career, he claimed he didn't inhale.
Then someone asked Barack Obama if he inhaled, and he replied, "Wasn't that the point?" Then he admitted snorting cocaine, and a great nation yawned.
Legalized marijuana has been sneaking its way into our lives for several years now via another mainstay of the '60s counterculture: alternative medicine. When acupuncture didn't do the trick, a few tokes of medicinal marijuana were there to cure whatever ailed us.
There were other signs: yoga classes at corporate headquarters; organic veggies at the supermarket; holistic health guru Andrew Weil and his bushy beard making it onto the cover of Time magazine not once, but twice.
Let your freak flag fly! Jimi Hendrix asked, "Are you experienced?" and before we knew it, everyone was looking for mind-blowing spiritual experiences, with or without the acid. Spiritual, but not religious. Eastern mysticism, watered down for mass consumption, was dished up by Deepak Chopra, Wayne Dyer, and the rest of the gang on prime-time PBS. Marijuana is only the first step.
Pretty soon, your doctor may be prescribing Orange Sunshine. The federal government just authorized a research project in which shrinks are giving ecstasy - the psychedelic drug that fueled a million raves - to Iraq war veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder. Timothy Leary's not dead.
Getting stoned is now good for us. It's even good for the economy! Proposition 19 promises to create jobs, broaden the tax base, fight crime, and restore America to greatness.
This cultural shift had to happen eventually. As of 2010, we are getting closer to 2060 than we are to 1960. There's a whole generation with a new explanation. I'm not sure what its explanation is, but it's time for someone to start reminding us not to trust anyone over 30.