When most people think ‘Tommy Chong,’ they think Up in Smoke. That was the title of his 1978 film with long-time comedic partner Cheech Marin of ‘Cheech and Chong’ fame. In more serious matters, Chong has in many ways become the celebrity face and martyr of the movement to legalize marijuana. In 2003, he was charged for helping finance and promote Chong Glass/Nice Dreams (a drug paraphernalia company started by his son Paris). To protect his family, he pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute drug paraphernalia. Chong served his sentence from October 2003 to July 2004.
Amidst a sea of vocal male celebrities in the legalize Marijuana movement, Alanis Morissette is often cited as one of the few female celebrity proponents of the drug. In a 2009 interview with People magazine, the Grammy Award winning singer-songwriter admitted to occasionally indulging in medicinal marijuana. This doesn’t of course make her the poster child of the movement like some of the others on this list. But in a celebrity world in which every little personal admission is weighed heavily, hers was quite the victory for medicinal marijuana and ‘legalize cannabis’ advocates.
Marijuana advocacy is no laughing matter; not even to comedic actor and musician Jack Black. The Tropic of Thunder star is serious and very public about his support of the cause. Along with ‘bud buddies’ Bill Maher and Adam Carolla, he is also on the advisory board of the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP).
The original ‘natural born killer’ is also a natural born marijuana advocate. Harrelson’s name always comes up when celebrities and the cannabis cause are mentioned in the same sentence. Not only was he arrested in his native Kentucky in the ‘90s for planting four hemp seeds as a political act, but he has also been a member of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana (NORML)’s advisory board since 2003. The Transsiberian star often lends a hand appearing at cause-related events like THC Expo in Los Angeles.
The star rapper’s relationship with marijuana has been a roller coaster ride in the public eye. In his career, he’s played marijuana dealers. In his personal life, he’s sworn off hemp and then returned to it. He has been fined and arrested for marijuana possession several times. Once, in 2006, he was arrested after an appearance on The Tonight Show. He was even arrested in Sweden for suspected use in 2007. Despite his less than clean record, he remains one of the key vocal celebrity supporters of legalizing marijuana. He has spread the message from TV talk shows to his own live performances.
The radio and TV host has paid lip service to the marijuana legalization cause but has also spread his message through more official channels. He is a member of the advisory board at the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). The Washington , D.C. based organization, of which Bill Maher incidentally sits on the advisory board, emphasizes removing criminal penalties for marijuana use and attempts to make marijuana medically available to ill people with doctor approval. There have been rumors that Carolla is no longer a weed smoker himself. Regardless, he remains a notable supporter of the cause.
If you’ve ever watched one episode of HBO’s comedic political talk show Real Time With Bill Maher, you know what his stance is on marijuana. But beyond defending his own beliefs on his show, Maher is one of Hollywood’s leading proponents of marijuana legalization. He is on the board of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana (NORML), a D.C. based organization that supports the regulated legalization of the drug. Maher is also often an eager participant in pro-marijuana festivals and events. Like the vast majority of other supporters of the cause, he proudly admits to being a regular marijuana user.
When he’s not out romancing every beautiful starlet in Hollywood, somehow singer-songwriter John Mayer finds time to contribute his creativity to the marijuana cause. In 2009, his single “Who Says?” sent some light shockwaves around the media. The tune’s lyrics begin, “Who says I can’t get stoned?” Though Mayer’s response to the media on it seemed to differ from outlet to outlet (he sometimes said the song was not about marijuana, other times he defended legalization), he qualifies as a celebrity advocate. At least he had no problem whipping out his marijuana vaporizer in the middle of a 2006 interview with Rolling Stone.
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By Shana Ting Lipton