It's controversial, it's contentious and it's so very California: the marijuana legalization cause. LA County alone is said to have the largest concentration of medicinal marijuana dispensaries in the state. Hundreds of thousands of Californians signed a petition to get a 'legalize marijuana' measure on the ballot. In the land of the famous, marijuana is as big a political cause as any. Celebrity marijuana advocates in Los Angeles like Woody Harrelson and Bill Maher champion the cause through official channels, while others express their support in their own ways.
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 n 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.
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.