Thoughts On The Dead

Musings on the Most Ridiculous Band I Can't Stop Listening To

Flip Your Lid

We have a question before us, Enthusiasts, and it may be one that we are in a unique position to answer. I’ll go so far as to state that if we can’t figure this one out, then no one can: What was a lid?

For the youth: before Pokemon Go and the innertubes, teens smoked dope and fucked. The carpets were thicker, but the skateboards were skinnier. (Also, the people were skinnier.) On a normal weekend, you would hang out in a parking lot. On a fuckin’ sick party weekend, you would go down to the Sportatorium and see a rock and roll show. You might hitchhike there, because the past is a third-world country. Mostly, you smoked dope and fucked.

The fucking was mostly the same, except that condoms were only used by prostitutes, sailors, and your mom, but the dope was different. There was no shatter, dabs, extract, hash oil, honey oil, truffle oil, dragon eggs, unicorn sweat, or chewy nougat. Nor were there celebrity-endorsed weed strains (Happy birthday, Oteil) or vapes; I mean, the chemical reaction known as vaporization existed, but you couldn’t walk around in public sucking on your skinny robot dick and blurfing out giant clouds of root beer-smelling bullshit.

You rolled joints on The White Album. It was a simpler, seedier time. And stemmier: weed was mostly terrible. On the bright side, it cost a nickel, like everything else back then: until 1973, the US was a nickel-based economy.

Which brings us back to the mythical and morpholinguistical “lid.” I asked about this on Twitter not an hour ago, and have gotten ten different answers:

  • An ounce.
  • 7/8 of an ounce.
  • 3/4 of an ounce.
  • You would hold your hand up to a baggie and measure four fingers worth, like asking for two fingers of scotch. (Do people ever ask for two fingers of scotch in real life?)
  • A lid’s worth: like, you just poured the weed into the top of a coffee can, or a saucepan, or a frisbee.
  • The amount of weed it took to give a picture of G. Gordon Liddy a modest afro.

And, sure: the last one’s made up, but the others are real; I have no reason to think anyone’s lying to me, so there is only one conclusion to be reached: the word “lid” was operating by Smurf rules. It meant whatever you and the person you were speaking with decided it meant. The past just made it up as it went.

(Please chime in in the Comment Section: I’m genuinely interested.)


  1. I always took it to be a small amount, like a dime or even a little less- like a matchbox full of schwag. But after I saw the Finn post I did the same research it looks like you did and while I have no leg to stand on here I’m buying the hellman’s mayo /coffee can top theory –

    I will say with unwarranted conviction that there is absolutely no way it’s an ounce. That’s too much to be a lid of anything

  2. Didn’t Willis buy a lid on Different Strokes one time?

  3. 3/4 oz OR 4 fingers. truly one of the mysteries of the universe

  4. I have also heard an amount measured with the lid of a coffee can, used to measure an oz when no accurate weights/measure tool available. The border of the lid constrains the bottom diameter and it is piled on like a hill of gravel- as high as you can go until it starts rolling off and landing outside the lid… It gets ya in the ballpark

  5. I like the “robot dick” analogy! My “douche flute” has kept me tobacco smoke free for 2.5 yrs now, but it is pretty dorky!

  6. Seems to me you said it all on this score, TotD.

    (Youngsters, listen up: the man just dropped some authentic social history on yallz. Not that easy to find on these still-taboo subjects of discussion.)

    Okay, I do have some maybe-possibly supplemental grist for further research: the “lid” may have at one time been a volumetric measure, based on the standard of the amount required to fill one metal tin of Prince Albert tobacco.

    However, that was before my time. Possibly even the era of the penny-based economy. So, unsure.

    However, under no circumstances was a “lid” (quotes always added) the equivalent of a matchbox. A matchbox = a “nickel”, aka $5 worth.

  7. My dad lived in sf during the late 60’s and early 70’s. His brother grew throughout the 70’s and early 80’s, at least till CAMP became a thing. They both said a “lid” was roughly the equivalent of an ounce. Back then though weed was so cheap it was mostly whatever a dude threw in a back and wrapped up for you. It was expected to be a certain size, but it wasn’t worth throwing on a scale.

  8. I first learned about a lid when my mom took my brother and I to a double feature at the drive in one night and the second film was Up In Smoke (I was 12, you do the math). Little brother and I had many questions that night.

  9. Back in the seventies, a “Lid” in the drug parlance of a certain time and place was the equivalent of an ounce. It was based more or less on an eye’s assessment of what was a verified, meaning pocket scales measurement, of an ounce. In what was the basic grocery store sandwich plastic bag of the time, no ziplock seal, just a foldover-tuckin top, if you stuffed stems with full buds containing seeds about double thick, an ounce measure would fill up to about the equivalent of holding the four fingers horizontal to the bag. So in street deals or where there weren’t scales pulled out to measure, the buyer would unroll the bag and assess its depth and height by four fingers to determine if he or she was getting the stated selling quantity. If I remember correctly, a dime bag was two fingers, about half, and a nickel bag half of that. The integrity of who you dealt with and the relationships usually made the difference as to whether the supposed lid, dime or nickel bag would measure up on scales. Purported premiums such as Hawaiian or Jamacian (sounds like coffee beans today) or sensimillia might be called the same but usually weighed a lot less. Once the cocaine mentallity of perpetually cutting upon every resale permeated the market by the mid to late seventies, all labels became less reliable. But to dispell one point in the article, just as acid then was more pure when enlightenement was the purpose and not money, there may have been some bad weed, but there was a hell of alot of good weed, especially when the south american DC3 connection occurred. this was before the repeal of the Posse Commitus Act, which has happened since 9/11 to justify military intervention in domestic affairs. The Posse Commitus Act arose shortly after this country began when George Washington? maybe another early president used the official continental congress military to crush a domestic rebellion (the whisky tax? – look it up in several sources if you wish to verify and pin down) and the response of the Continental Congress or maybe the newly established U.S. Congress was to bar any use of the military against U.S. Citizens. So back in the seventies as the U.S. Military used to track dozens of flights daily of DC3’s from Columbia and elsewhere south to this country but didn’t/couldn’t report to any domestic law enforcement. That’s all changed now and we have laws allowing our goverment to take over our computers and spy on us. Once upon a time though, a lid was the equivalent of an ounce of pot as best could be easily verified by assessing the height and depth of a baggy without a scale

  10. Luther Von Baconson

    August 25, 2016 at 10:53 am

    gonna go with a Prince Albert tobacco can lid (or Player’s/Export “A”/Sweet Caporal if you are from The Durham Region) and George Gobel for the block, Alex. fill it with weed.

    • I’m going to add Black Cat to that Luther, great for nuts, bolts, washers and weed….but yeah, the majority are Exports and Players.

      • Luther Von Baconson

        August 25, 2016 at 5:00 pm

        yes. No. 7. Woolco was also a favourite, those green plastic containers. truth be told, hash & oil (“a quarter”) were ubiquitous.

        • How much oil was in a fiver Luther, was it five grams? Also,my friends out west always made fun of me for referring to an eight as a half quarter…..

          • Luther Von Baconson

            August 26, 2016 at 11:12 am

            think so; i’ll ask my Mom. there is a goodly assortment of Wharton vials in my Dresser aka Chifforobe underneath my Underoos. Right next to my Variations Vintage Collection.

  11. Tuesday Jackson

    August 25, 2016 at 11:29 am

    a lid was whatever you thought it was.

  12. The Central Shaft

    August 25, 2016 at 12:45 pm

    Let’s Make a Dope Deal Host: “How many joints are in a lid?”

    Chong: “Two . . . two man.”

    Cheech: “He rolls big joints!”

    Host: “OK then, you’re right! He rolls big joints!”

  13. As your resident “Younger Enthusiast,” I’ll have you know that I did not read this because there was not a trigger warning on it.

    Also, holy shit, I’m glad I’m growing up in this generation. I don’t know how you’re all not dead from all the drugs and meaningless sex. I eat crackers when I get home from school and listen to Phish strictly from streaming services. I spit on you.

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