January 19, 2018 / 10:30 PM

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Marijuana and Country Music: An Old Trend That Mainstream Listeners Are Just Realizing [VIDEO]

If you've enjoyed music produced by every scene ranging from '40s bebop to '90s grunge, you're aware that heroin has played a role. Ecstasy and "molly" use in the EDM scene have recently become a concern for parents and concert organizers after a rash of overdoses. However, marijuana has somewhat lost its edge. Although we don't encourage any drug use, a reference to taking a toke hardly raises an eyebrow, whether the artist is Sublime or Wiz Khalifa. One scene that's late to the party is country music, and a Billboard report indicates that those surrounding the traditionally family-friendly genre are concerned with a rash of weed references in popular country music.

"Listener feedback leads me to believe that the increase in references to getting high is barely tolerated by those with more traditional values," said Bob Barnett, an operations manager for Entercom radio. "It still boils down to the family friendly nature of the format. Parents are concerned with the message being sent to children/teens via the music. Country has been a bit of a musical safe haven over the years."

Eric Church has long been a more "progressive" vocalist, referencing marijuana openly during his 2009 single "Smoke A Little Smoke," which rose to no. 16 on the country charts. Luke Bryan doesn't say it outright, but his lyric "I got that real good, feel good stuff/up under the seat of my big-black jacked-up truck" from the current no. 1 country single "That's My Kind of Night" is probably not referencing Peanut M&M's.

Still, it's not as if drugs are just now finding their way into country music. They've always been an element in the "outlaw" and alternative country scenes, populating the music of artists such Hank Williams Jr. (and Hank3). Now that some alt-country artists are gaining popularity, namely Kacey Musgraves and her great track "Blowin' Smoke," what was normal for one scene is becoming the new scary thing to another.

Country music might need to accept that its stars engage in counterculture just like many musicians. For every "I Walk The Line" by Johnny Cash, there's a "Cocaine Blues" by Johnny Cash.

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