Ever engage a person who is staunchly against legalization of marijuana for recreational or even medical use? Often times, when you ask them what their arguments against it are, they’ll paint a verbal picture of what they believe the marijuana users to be – potheads.
Many people have a major misconception about what the average marijuana user looks like. Hollywood is largely to blame for these stereotypes. It started in the 1970s with films like the Cheech and Chong movies, and continued through the 1990s and 2000s with movies like “True Romance” and “Half Baked”. While many of these movies are hilarious, they have definitely done damage, giving many people a false impression that people who use marijuana have dropped out of life and exist only to get high.
With the rise of medical marijuana use, there are some accurate portrayals of real marijuana users in the media. The Discovery TV reality show, “Weed Wars” introduced some; showing people like recreational pot smoker turned millionaire, Steve DeAngelo. Many well-known and very successful individuals have admitted to using marijuana recreationally, including:
CEO of Dr. Bonner’s Soaps, David Bonner, has said he uses cannabis almost every night. In just 15 years, he has managed to grow his company from a $5 million business to a $100 million one.
Actor Woody Harrelson has pushed hard for the legalization of marijuana. He says that although he uses cannabis, his reason for getting behind the movement is due to freedom. He believes that marijuana use hurts no one, so people’s rights to use it should be protected.
Brad Pitt has admitted that he used cannabis heavily during his early days in Hollywood, and during those days he received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his role in “Twelve Monkeys”. While he says he did grow bored with the lifestyle, it certainly didn’t hold him back from becoming a success.
Snoop Dogg has always been open about his use of marijuana. He has designed an herbal vaporizers (see Vapor Plants), and spoken freely about cannabis in many interviews. He also happens to be worth more than $135 million, due to wisely investing his money from rapping and making smart business decisions.
Cameron Diaz went to high school with Snoop Dogg, and has said in interviews that she often bought pot from him. Today, she is one of Hollywood’s most successful actresses and has produced a number of films.
Lady Gaga has explained that she has written most of her songs while under the influence of marijuana. She has sold more than 28 million albums over the course of her career and made more than $300 million in album sales.
Carl Sagan, a notable scientist, was a longtime cannabis user before his death in 1996. He wrote several essays on the benefits of pot under the pseudonym “Mr. X.”
Barack Obama has admitted to smoking pot, and there are many photographs of him holding joints that were taken when he was in his 20s.
The list of famous people who have admitted to using cannabis also includes Oliver Stone, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Phil Jackson, Richard Branson, Bill Mahrer, and countless more. It’s obvious that cannabis use doesn’t automatically make someone a pothead who will never go further than their living room sofa.
Still, despite how many successful people openly admit to its use, the penalties for marijuana possession and use are harsh in many states. There is a push for reform coming from younger Americans; with marijuana facts spreading around the nation, people under 35 tend to be more open to the idea of legalizing marijuana across the board. When they turn out to vote in record numbers, legalization bills like the ones in Colorado and Washington can pass.
But for all the progress, there are still many people who are stuck on the notion that legalizing marijuana will suddenly mean that the country will be besieged by lazy do-nothing pot heads. Those who want to see marijuana use decriminalized will need to work to fight these stereotypes, educate those with misconceptions, and demand that Hollywood be more responsible going forward about how marijuana users are portrayed in movies and on television shows.
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