THE HOMEGROWN YEARS
CAMPAIGNS • APARTHEID • ALCHEMY
Ten years after the Summer of Love in 1967, I wanted to celebrate that sublime and fickle moment in time. During that summer I attended the Legalise Pot Rally in Hyde Park,London, wearing leaves of a hedge row in my hair, a Zapato moustache, and a kaftan with a badge saying "No search without a warrant".
After considering hiring the Roundhouse for a night of Love and Peace, I stumbled on to the idea of publishing a cannabis magazine like the new American High Times, and called it HomeGrown, Europe's first dope magazine.
I was in the throes of publishing Bryan Talbot's trilogy Brainstorm Comix, the adventures of Chester P Hackenbush, the psychedelic alchemist, now an underground classic. I published many HomeGrown graphic illustrators and cartoonists in the Mixed Bunch and Brainstorm Fantasy Comix. I had experience of publishing, editing, advertising, distribution, street selling and printing underground publications.
I published the Alchemical Almanac and Handbook of Herbal Highs in 1972. And an account of the overland journey to India, the Guide to the East in 1973. In the late Sixties I wrote articles, theatre reviews, and interviews for the underground press, I. T. (International times), Oz magazine and Other Scenes in New York.
I was the right person at the right time to publish a magazine on cannabis and the psychedelic experience. I Published ten issues of Homegrown from 1977 to 1982, a re-issue of No. 1, and a Best of Homegrown in 1994, altogether 170,000 copies.
HOMEGROWN is now being digitally delivered to a new generation on a global scale. The iconic dope magazine is now available online for the first time.
Homegrown was my "labour of love” and it captured the spirit of the times. It covered diverse subjects; the plight of cannabis smugglers languishing in prisons abroad, Free Festivals, the biggest LSD bust, Operation Julie, the Smokey Bears picnics, the campaign to legalise cannabis, the CIA drug experiments, the coffee shops of Amsterdam, Rastafarians and reggae, and the first International Cannabis Legalisation conference at the Kosmos in Amsterdam in 1980.
I was assisted by many contributing writers, co-editors, art directors, graphic illustrators and photographers over the five years. The three-part Beat Generation articles were written by me, as I fictionally placed myself in New York during the early Beat years, signing off as the Angel-headed Hipster.
I would like to give thanks to the many readers of Homegrown, some of whom still have their treasured copies, for the support and heart-warming feedback I received. What makes the magazine special for me, are the letters, campaign pages and adverts (which helped me break even), and friendships I made over the years.
Now in my eightieth year I can look back, moved and nostalgic, to the multitude of people who touched my life and whose life I have touched through the Homegrown years. We left a foot-print in the sand of time.
I will not dwell on the many hardships I endured, trials, police raids, censorship, financial difficulties, lurid sensational press coverage, and personal envy and animosity. Suffice to say it made me stronger and more motivated. I was lucky Io have a loyal and loving wife and two youngchildren during this period.
Some emotional highlights:
Publishing Danny De Souza's prison letters from Turkey where he was caught smuggling five kilos of cannabis, and sentenced to 30 years imprisonment. He served twelve years and I met him when he came home to the UK. He now lives in Turkey.
I first met Rick the Vic, Richard Mayes, aged 30, at his trial at Southend Crown Court where he was sentenced to nine month imprisonment for smoking cannabis with members of a punk rock group. He was disqualified from the priesthood even though the bishop who ordained him described him as “the best man of his year”. When he came out in 1979 we went to the stonehenge Free Festival Together. He has lived in Tipee Valley in Wales for many years and is now a grandfather. He is my Facebook friend.
John Higgins was a young medical artist working at a hospital when he showed me some of his artwork. He had not been published before and he did two covers for Homegrown issues No. 2 and 3, my favourite cover artwork. He went on to work for the comic 2000 AD and is the colourist for Alan Moore's watchmen. I met him in May this year for the first time since those halcyon days.
I published Harry Shapiro's early work on music and drugs, which he later turned into a book, Waiting For The Man, the story of drugs and popular music. He is editor of Drug Link and director of Drugwise. We are in regular contact.
My favourite photographer must be the great Laurence Chemiak whose photos from The Great Book of Hashish, Volume 1, I published in issue No. 6. About ten years ago I bumped into him at Canna Business in Germany.
Out of the many cannabis enthusiasts who read and loved Homegrown, I single out Frank Kirk who bought a copy of Homegrown No. 1 at the Alchemy stall in the indoor market on the Portobello Road and gave his copy to the Cannabis Museum in Amsterdam where it lies to this day. Frank is my Facebook friend, and although we haven't met in person since then, when I was writing this piece I got a Facebook comment from him which just said “One Love’. I know that Frank has not been well, and I would like to wish him "One Love".
Welcome to 'Homegrown', Europe's first dope magazine, hope you enjoy it.
Howard Marks Tribute
“He was an exquisite loveable rogue, a clever boy from the Valleys, a great brain who fitted in well with Oxford culture. He was a great adventurer who took great risks, but he became a legend because he was like the Scarlet Pimpernel, they could never find him. Later on he did all those sell out shows and people came who would never have thought of smoking of a joint. He was much loved and will be much missed”
Lee Harris : April 2016
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