In the last 20 years, grassroots activists, scientists, and politicians have lobbied for legalization of marijuana use with varying degrees of success. However, one of the biggest assets in the fight for cannabis recognition has been celebrity influence. Speaking openly about their own use and about weed’s many benefits, celebrities can help normalize perceptions of the drug, paving the way for more progressive legislation. Here’s a look at six celebrities who smoke weed.
No list of celebrity cannabis advocates would be complete without Willie Nelson. For people of a certain generation, he is almost synonymous with marijuana -- the musician penned both a song and an autobiography titled “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die”. After achieving crossover success as country-rock star in the 1960s and 70s, Nelson threw his celebrity weight behind a number of progressive causes, including pacifism, renewable energy, and LGBT rights. Most of all, Nelson supports cannabis legalization. Nelson serves as co-chair of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) and as of 2015 has expanded into cultivation, establishing the brand Willie’s Reserve, with plans to open stores in states where recreational use is legal. Nelson, who allegedly smoked on the roof of the White House, has secured a name for himself as a 420 friendly celeb!
Neil deGrasse Tyson
“Do you agree that planetarium shows are much better when you’re high?” host Peter Sagal asks Neil deGrasse Tyson in a 2015 episode of NPR’s Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me. Without hesitation, Tyson fires back: "Is everything better when you’re high?" Although Tyson has not admitted to smoking weed, Tyson has been very vocal in the media about his perspective on it. In 2018, Elon Musk smoked weed in a Joe Rogan Podcast. In an interview with TMZ
With a career spanning decades of comedic and dramatic roles, Susan Sarandon is one of the preeminent actresses of her generation. She also happens to be an avid pot smoker. As recent as 2013, she came out as a cannabis enthusiast, admitting on Bravo’s Watch What Happens Live to being stoned at almost all Hollywood award ceremonies “except the Oscars.” She subsequently sat down for a lengthy interview with High Times magazine, where she talks about her views on Cannabis use. "I’m a huge believer that if more people smoked—not just for medicinal purposes, but for lifestyle purposes, instead of drinking—the world would be a better place." Susan told High Times, "There’s a lot of very clear scientific support for medical marijuana. But I don’t want to focus on the idea that you have to be sick to use it. It’s more of a lifestyle choice—like yoga or meditation. It’s also a really lovely way to socialize and be with people—and to be with yourself and de-stress." Susan calls for widespread legalization, pointing to the economic, social and medical benefits the plant provides. It is clear that Susan Sarandon gives two thumbs up to marijuana use.
Woody Harrelson has spent much of his life in the public eye extolling the benefits of cannabis and hemp. Shortly after his big-screen breakout in Natural Born Killers, Harrelson, with a CNN camera crew in tow, symbolically planted four hemp seeds in Kentucky soil to protest that state’s failure to make a legal distinction between recreational cannabis and industrial hemp. His subsequent arrest marked the beginning of a career in the organized counterculture -- like Willie Nelson, Harrelson is a prominent member of NORML. To commemorate New York City’s 2014 decriminalization of possession of fewer than 25 grams for personal use, he appeared in a Saturday Night Live skit that resonated with stoners everywhere. Harrelson appeared on the Ellen Degeneres show and spoke about he quit smoking weed for two years. But ironically enough, Willie Nelson got him to start again.
It’s hard to say where Ilana Glazer ends and her Broad City heroine Ilana Wexler begins. Both are outspoken feminists, both are thoroughly sex-positive, and both smoke weed daily. With a healthy dose of raunch and irreverence, Glazer and her partner Abbi Abrams have put female stoners front and center in primetime for the first time ever.
A celebrity in his own right, neuroscientist Oliver Sacks did more in his lifetime to popularize hard biological science than maybe anyone before or since. An explorer of the human brain, Sacks wrote fascinating and accessible books like The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and An Anthropologist on Mars, demonstrating the endlessly complex ways in which our brains perceive the world around us. Sacks was obsessed with bizarre and rare neurological conditions because they highlighted the ways in which reality can be subjectively understood. Instrumental in his scientific and deeply existential studies was his use of cannabis and other hallucinogens, which Sacks felt opened up invaluable channels of human perception.
Leading The Way
These are just a few examples of the many celebrities who approve of recreational and medical cannabis use. As more celebrities open up about the benefits of smoking cannabis, weed will likely become more socially acceptable. The fight against marijuana prohibition is going strong, as legalization spreads like wildfire.