The beloved cannabis holiday falls on April 20th, aka 420, and you can find enthusiasts surrounded by smoke on this celebratory event across the country. The meaning behind 420 can get kind of hazy (no, it's not the police code for illegal consumption), but as legalization continues to spread across the United States, it's important to honor those that have allowed us to celebrate this commemorative day.
Below you'll find 9 cannabis advocates that fought to reduce the stigma by normalizing cannabis use and have paved the way for legalization. This list of medical professionals, athletes, musicians and policy influencers is just a mere sample of the thousands of advocates who have dedicated their lives to cannabis education and advocacy.
Referred to as the "Emperor of Hemp," Jack Herer authored the The Emperor Wear No Clothes, a non-fiction book about the history and uses of the cannabis plant before founding and serving as the director of the organization Help End Marijuana Prohibition (HEMP). Jack spent his life fighting for decriminalization of cannabis due to its renewable source of fuel, food, and medicine before passing away in 2010.
With the famous lyrics, "smoke weed every day," it's hard to think of any other rapper more famous for cannabis advocacy than Snoop D-O-Double-G himself. He's certainly not shy when it comes to his consumption, and in the last few years, he's launched several cannabis-related businesses including Eaze, a medical marijuana delivery service, the website Merry Jane, and his own product line, Leafs By Snoop. B
Bob Marley spent his musical career advocating for marijuana's spiritual and medicinal importance. In an interview with Quartz, Marley's son, Ziggy Marley stressed his father's message. "He was a person who wanted social justice in a real sense, in a real physical sense,” he said. “There's a lot more to it than the whole, 'Bob Marley, love and peace and smoke weed.' ... It's much deeper. And the message is always relevant.” Long after his death, Marley's family helped release the first ever international cannabis brand, Marley Natural.S
Known as "the Father of the Cannabis Industry," Steve DeAngelo founded several successful cannabis companies, including Harborside Health Center, Steep Hill Labs, and ArcView Group, and has been protesting cannabis prohibition for more than four decades. His activism began in Washington D.C., organizing smoke-ins after dropping out of high school to protest prohibition. He continues to encourage cannabis enthusiasts to fight for legalization and become involved in the industry.
Most famous for his talk show, Montel Williams was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1999, a disease that causes intense burning sensations throughout his entire body. He founded the Montel Williams MS Foundation in 2000 and has been open about his use of medical cannabis in treating symptoms related to the disease. As a supporter of legalization, especially patients and veterans like himself, Williams founded Lenitiv Scientific, providing his own line of hemp and cannabis products.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta MD, a Neurosurgeon and Assistant Professor of Neurosurgery at Emory University School of Medicine, Associate Chief of Neurosurgery Service at Grady Memorial Hospital in Georgia, and Chief Medical Correspondent at CNN was known for being anti-cannabis for most of his career. He has since apologized and reversed his stance, sharing his findings after a five-year investigation into cannabis' medical benefits (including a cure to the opioid crisis) in the documentary series, Weed.
Keith Stroup established NORML, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws in 1970 with a $5,000 donation from the Playboy Foundation. NORML aims to change public opinion about marijuana use and fights for adult-use legalization. With hundreds of chapters across the United States, Stroup (and NORML) still continue to advocate for policy reform and the decriminalization of marijuana offenses.
Criticized for being a "stoner" in the NFL for his many failed drug tests due to his cannabis consumption, Ricky Williams, the former two-time All-American and Heisman Trophy winner is changing the way people view cannabis use in athletes. Since retiring from the NFL, Williams has made it his personal goal to "elevate the legitimacy of cannabis as a medicine and the respect of medical professionals for cannabis users." He is the Founder of Real Wellness, his own California-based personal brand of cannabis-based products.
More commonly known as 'Brownie Mary," Mary Jane Rathbun is famous for distributing marijuana infused brownies to AIDS patients during her time as a volunteer at San Francisco General Hospital in the 1980s. She used her monthly Social Security check to purchase the baking supplies and was arrested serval times, bringing awareness to both the AIDS virus and the medicinal benefits of cannabis. Her international media attention and activism led researchers to propose clinical trials regarding cannabinoids and HIV, as well as help pass Proposition 215 in California.