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When large numbers of individuals with shared values engage in certain patterns of drug use, the political consequences can be serious. The Yippies of the late 1960s and early 1970s provide such an example.

Rather than quietly retreating from society as part of the baby-boom's countercultural (hippie) revolution, the Yippies shocked those with conventional values in the United States through spectacular media events. Thousands of young Americans shared the antimaterialistic values of Yippie leaders Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin. In 1967, Hoffman dumped dollar bills from the visitors' gallery onto the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. In 1968, another protest event was stagedthe Chicago Yippie Conventiontimed to coincide with the Chicago Democratic Presidential Convention and considered an opportunity to protest the Vietnam War.

Yippies challenged the establishment with a Festival of Life and invited drug-using hippies to attend; it included LSD seminars, rock shows, light shows, films, marches, love-ins, put-ons, guerrilla theater, and bizarre stuntssuch as nominating a pig named Pigasus for president. The protest escalated into a confrontation with Chicago authorities; the mayor called out the police; and, in a rioting atmosphere, Yippies were beaten and imprisoned; the presidential convention was disrupted; Yippie leaders were tried in a case that became known as the Chicago Seven; and the Democrats lost the 1968 election.

During that time, a team of scientists surveyed the drug-use activity of 432 Yippies (Hughes et al. 1969). These showed a strong preference for hallucinogenic substances. Weekly Marijuana use was reported by 79 percent, Hashish by 40 percent, Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD) by 29 percent, Mescaline by 10 percent, Psilocybin by 5 percent, and Peyote by 3 percent. Weekly use of nonhallucinogens was lowAlcohol 34 percent, Cocaine 4 percent, and Heroin 3 percent.

It may be too simplistic to attribute the 1968 political events to marijuana and LSD. Yet we do know that certain chemicals help free users from conventional values and ways of perceiving reality. Researchers need to further examine this issue in future outbreaks of antiestablishment protest.

(See also: Epidemics of Drug Abuse ; Hallucinogens )


Fiegelson, N. (1970). The underground revolution: Hippies, Yippies, and others. New York: Funk & Wagnalls.

Hoffman, A. (1989). On to Chicago. In Daniel Simon (Ed.), The best of Abbie Hoffman. New York: Four Walls Eight Windows.

Hughes, P., Zaks, M., Jaffe, J., & Ballou-Dolkart, M. (1969). The Chicago Yippie convention of 1968drug use patterns. Scientific Proceedings of the One Hundred Twenty-Second Annual Meeting. Washing ton, DC: American Psychiatric Association.

Zaks, M., Hughes, P., Jaffe, J., & Ballou-Dolkart, M. (1969). Chicago Yippie convention, 1968: Socio-cultural drug use and psychological patterns. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 39 (2):188-190.

Patrick H. Hughes

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