If you smoked weed or addicted with drug in college (you did), you’re likely or probably had a run-in with a guy or man wearing a drug rug. The drug rug (also known as Baja hoodie) is worn by all sorts of stoners, from Matthews Dave Band fans to Wiz Khalifa stans, to Phish heads, from joint rollers to hot-boxers, to bong-rippers. After staring at these colorful heavy sweaters suffice or enough times, trying to find or look the meaning of life in its various and distinct pattern, you may’ve asked yourself about the origins of the drug rug. Wonder no longer: Here is how the drug rug came to be.
However, the term “Baja hoodie” is not some marketing creation: The drug rug was really and popularized in Mexico, Baja. Locals, inspired by the thick blankets (also known as jergas) they had been using for generations, took the bold patterns and fabric and fashioned hooded shirts out of them. While there’s evidence that South and Central American cultures have been using Jergas as blankets and even as ponchos since the early 1300s, the long history of the Jerga collided with California youth culture in Mexico in the early ’70s. Surfers noticed the thick sweaters or jackets when on trips to Mexico, after making their way down, the coast is chasing the tremendous and best waves. Also, as adventurous surfers brought the shirts back from Baja in Mexico, many young counterculture Californians saw the knitted jacket or pullover sweaters as an opportunity or lucky to let their freak flag fly. However, Mexican locals saw an opportunity to push a must-own souvenir on American visitors. Known as a “sudadera de jerga” in Spanish, the drug rug proved to be excellent and perfect for barechested surfers to put and throw on as the beach day gave way to a chilly night.
Moreso, the legend of the drug rug grew from there, as what started as a counterculture item grew into a national craze. As the 1970s wore on, the Baja hoodie came to stand in for West Coast drug culture. As that culture, which has romanticized since the days of hippie communes in Topanga Canyon and mind-expanding (of hallucinogenic drugs) spiritual retreats to Big Sur, continued to capture the sales skyrocketed, American imagination. Also, the legend of the Baja hoodie grew to be so synonymous with drug culture that people started to believe the shirt was made of hemp, even though usually, it’s made of a cotton blend. (This point has been further confused because they’re sometimes made of cloth).
The popularity of the Baja hoodie grew even more in the 1980s, as mainstream norm and culture adopted the hoodie as a stand-in for stoner culture. Sean Penn enormously or famously wore a Baja hoodie in his portrayal of stoner hero Spicoli in Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Luke Perry’s Beverly Hills, 80310 characters, also Dylan wore drug rugs, as the writers sought to tie him to California cool. By the 1990s, the drug rug became a natural symbol of a particular lifestyle and an aspirational item for teens who longed for a laid-back coastal lifestyle while stuck in a landlocked suburb. Like bandanas and tie-dye, the drug rug was now forever a part of stoner iconography.
Like many counterculture pieces that catch fire and gain large style cache, individual takes on the Baja hoodies have landed on the runway and commanded a ridiculous price tag. Fashion industry observers also have rugs on sale and have noted drug rug selling at over $2,500 a piece, as 1970s styles came back into fashion and marijuana lifestyle gear has gained and earned traction with the renewed push for legalization.
Also, there are rugs on sale in that time too, and as far as construction goes on, most modern day rugs made via the same techniques used by ancient Weavers. Moreover, there are currently rugs on sale now that are machined made and processed, which explains they marked down prices.
Along with leather jackets and bell bottoms, the drug rug is now part of the American culture today, and will likely see repurposing, continued recycling, and reconsideration as the years’ march on and America’s relationship with drug norms and culture continues to advance.