Video: Viral Beatles Parody Urges California Pot Legalization

"When I'm 64" transforms into "Yes on 64."

Photo Credit: tarasov / Shutterstock.com

A new viral YouTube video takes a classic Beatles tune and turns it into a Baby Boomer’s anthem for legalization.

About 8,800 Californians are arrested each year on felony marijuana charges. A measure on the state’s November ballot, Proposition 64, would legalize nonmedical marijuana for adults and release people currently incarcerated for marijuana offenses.

“Yes on 64” takes Paul McCartney’s 1960s hit song about growing older, from the Sgt. Pepper’s album, “When I’m 64,” and turns it into a parody version of Paul getting arrested for marijuana — as he was during the 1970s in Japan — and asks the listener, “will you please free me? Yes on 64.” (Click here or on the link below).


The video was created by a Beatles fan as a tribute to the song, to the Beatles and to the role that the band played in popularizing cannabis as an alternative to drinking. Many people believe, for example, that it was the prevalence of marijuana instead of  alcohol at the original Woodstock Festival that resulted in such a peaceful gathering. Compare that with the later Woodstock reunion events where alcohol was served and cannabis was hard to find. Those later events suffered from drunkenness, fights and destruction of vendor booths and personal property.

Prop. 64 is leading in the polls and, if enacted, will legalize personal possession of an ounce of cannabis and eight grams of concentrate per adult, age 21 and up, and six plants per household in a discrete garden. It is retroactive and is estimated to have the potential to release 10,000 or more non-violent marijuana offenders. The current illicit market would be replaced with a regulated market that requires purity and potency testing of products and a state and/or local license. To keep marijuana away from children, Prop 64 has strict labeling and packaging requirements, child-proof containers and rules against sales or even promotion to minors. A violation would result in the loss of the vendor’s license and possible prosecution.

Recent data from the Center for Disease Controls show that, while use by minors has decreased with legalization victories, use by adults and especially Baby Boomer seniors is increasing, both for medical use and for relaxation. A lot of todays seniors grew up in a time when smoking cannabis was common, then backed off during the Reagan and Bush Drug War era. Many of them have rediscovered cannabis to placate the aches and pains of old age and also to recapture the enjoyment of life from their younger days. The CDC also reports that adults who consume cannabis today engage in more responsible behavior and less misuse of the herb.

With Colorado, Washington, Alaska, Oregon and Washington DC having legalized, and five states including California having legalization on the ballot, change is in the air, and so is cannabis smoke or vapors from vaporizer pens. To many people who grew up listening to the Beatles, that is the smell of freedom.

The parody was made by a fan with no financial gain, in accordance with sampling and copyright laws. Check it out:


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Author, educator, and  West Coast Leaf publisher; Chris Conrad is a court-qualified expert on Cannabis Hemp (Marijuana) who is cited in numerous Appellate Decisions and at least one California Supreme Court ruling.