Considering how verboten marijuana was less than a decade ago, it’s practically miraculous that nine states have legalized it since 2012 with several more possibly in November. The cast of characters here represents the new respect for cannabis that’s sweeping the nation. These 25 people have either been at the forefront of the legalization movement or have jumped aboard recently, taking advantages of opportunities presented by the Green Rush economy.
Profiles written by Steve Bloom
The Queens-born rapper has built a career out of his oversized appetite for marijuana. Best known for his TV series on Viceland — the food shows “F*ck, That’s Delicious” and “The Untitled Action Bronson Show” — he’s earned his cred in other ways, too: as when he got arrested at a music festival in Kosovo in August for lighting a joint on stage.
Married to Scott Campbell, who created the vaporizer line Beboe, the actress and director has become a major cannabis advocate. She appears on the cover of the latest issue of MedMen’s magazine, Ember, and recently revealed her affinity for growing marijuana at home. Among Bell’s movie credits are 2013’s “In This World” and last year’s “I Do… Until I Don’t,” which she directed. As an actress, she’s appeared in such films as “Million Dollar Arm” (2014) and “It’s Complicated” (2009).
In May, the comic actor hosted a dinner party for 150 potential cannabis industry investors at his $38 million Los Angeles mansion. “I believe in this medicine,” Belushi reportedly told those gathered. “I want to send the message out that this takes opioids off the street.” He’s already in the business with Belushi’s Vault, a line of cannabis products grown by Rogues Lair and sold by pot shops in Oregon. The younger brother of John Belushi, who died in 1982, he’s appeared in such films as “Salvador,” “About Last Night,” “Red Heat” and “Taking Care of Business,” all released between 1985 and 1990.
The co-founder and CEO of popular dispensary brand MedMen, Bierman operates 14 retail outlets in California, Nevada and New York. MedMen’s New York store, fashionably located on Fifth Avenue, opened with a big splash April 20, while chic shops situated in Beverly Hills, West Hollywood, Venice Beach and Las Vegas have upped the status of the Culver City-based company. The market cap for MedMen Enterprises on the Canadian Securities Exchange as of Sept. 2018 is an eye-popping $2.4 billion.
The San Francisco-born, Mexican-American rapper has recorded for Wiz Khalifa’s Taylor Gang label since 2012. In January, he opened Cookies Los Angeles, a pot shop in Maywood. His first Cookies store was in the Bay Area. Berner’s latest album, “The Big Pescado,” topped the hip-hop charts. He’s also appeared on all three of B-Real’s “Prohibition” albums.
Cypress Hill’s frontman received a license to operate a dispensary in Santa Ana, Calif., in 2015. Three years later, on Aug. 15, he finally opened his Dr. Greenthumb shop in Sylmar, 30 miles north of Los Angeles. B-Real is certainly keeping busy: He’s the new host of Viceland’s canna-foodie show, “Bong Appétit.” Cypress Hill has also partnered with Bhang Chocolates and plan to release the CHB product line soon. “Elephants on Acid,” the group’s first album in eight years, will be available Sept. 28.
The chief Parrothead likes weed so much that, more than 40 years ago, he named his group the Coral Reefer Band. Buffett has trademarked the brand and, earlier this month, signed a licensing agreement with Georgia-based Surterra, which has a marijuana dispensary in Florida with plans to open more. Coral Reefer products will include vape pens, edibles and topicals. Now Parrotheads will really be able to waste away in Margaritaville.
Lauren Cynamon and Chris Grosso
These two executive producers are responsible for much of marijuana-themed content you see on Viceland, such as “Bong Appétit” and “F*ck, That’s Delicious,” and prior to that on Vice’s food vertical, Munchies. Both got their starts on Vice’s original video platform, VBS, over a decade ago.
Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong
This year marks the 40th anniversary of “Up in Smoke,” Cheech & Chong’s breakthrough stoner comedy. When they’re not touring as the redoubtable comedy team, both are running cannabis companies: Cheech’s Private Stash and Chong’s Choice. The two product lines are currently available in California and numerous other legal marijuana states. Asked if he’s worried about a crackdown against companies like his by the White House, Marin tells Variety: “No, not at all. I would welcome a showdown with Trump.”
In 2017, the Grammy-winning singer-songwriter was arrested in connection with marijuana possession at the Canada-U.S. border, later pleading guilty to a misdemeanor charge. “I’m in good company,” Etheridge told Variety at the time. “I feel like a rock star now.” Her Santa Cruz-based pot company Etheridge Farms, announced in 2016, has yet to get off the ground, but Etheridge is held in high regard as a longtime advocate; she’s backed medical use since she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004.
Mark Von Holden/Variety/REX/Shutterstock
TV Host, Activist
Since last year, “The View” host’s marijuana line, Whoopi & Maya, has expanded from California to Colorado. Geared toward women, it includes a bath soak, raw cacao, a body balm and herbal tincture; they’re all infused with cannabis extracts. In June, Goldberg discussed using a vape pen to treat her glaucoma at the Cannabis World Congress & Business Expo in New York. “This is something makes sense to me,” she said. “Medicine is medicine.”
Chairman and chief executive of High Times Holdings, finance industry veteran Levin put together the 2017 deal that purchased Trans High Corp., longtime owner of the venerable High Times brand, which includes a magazine founded in 1974. Since then, High Times Holdings has expanded its network of popular Cannabis Cup competition events from Amsterdam to Alaska, purchased the Reggae on the River festival and added Culture, Dope and greenmarketreport.com to its publishing stable.
TV Host, Comedian
The “Real Time” host remains the strongest voice for marijuana legalization on cable, rarely missing a chance to remind HBO viewers, as well as panel participants, that he partakes on a daily basis. Maher’s top nemesis: President Trump, the inspiration for the comedian’s regular rants on his show and in stand-up concerts.
Bob Marley’s youngest son bought a piece of High Times’ ownership last year and continues to develop his Ocean Grown Extracts product line based in Coalinga, Calif. His Denver shop, Damian Marley’s Stony Hill, in partnership with Tru Cannabis, features his own custom strain, Damian Marley SpeakLife OG.
The music industry’s most famous octogenarian (he’s 85) keeps barreling along at a clip usually reserved for someone half his age. He’s released two albums this year, “Last Man Standing” in April and “My Way,” a tribute to Frank Sinatra, earlier this month. His extensive Willie’s Reserve cannabis product line, available in multiple legal states, includes buds, cartridges and chocolates courtesy of his wife, Annie.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP/REX
The likely next governor of California (he’s lieutenant governor now) helped pass the state’s legal marijuana law, Prop. 64, in 2016. “As governor,” the candidate’s website reads, “Gavin will continue to step up and step into this debate.” If he wins, Newsom will certainly have his hands full untangling the state’s cumbersome marijuana regulations.
The upstart candidate for New York governor is a stage and screen actress best known for her role as spunky attorney Miranda Hobbes on “Sex and the City.” Nixon startled the New York Democratic establishment with her bold run against two-term Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Seizing the marijuana legalization issue in New York, which has lagged behind other states, she’s been able to push Cuomo to the left on a subject he hadn’t traditionally took much interest in. Despite losing the Democratic primary on Sept. 13, Nixon will continue to oppose Cuomo as the Working Families Party candidate on Nov. 6.
Maarten De Boer
He’s been preaching about pot through comedy since his earliest roles in “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” and “Knocked Up.” More than a decade later, Rogen’s song remains the same as recreational use extends to his home country of Canada (beginning Oct. 17). In April, he told Jimmy Kimmel about the time he smoked pot in front of director Steven Spielberg at a party. “That’s why I’m not the lead in ‘Ready Player One,’” Rogen cracked. The comic actor/screenwriter is also an investor in Snoop Dogg’s website merryjane.com.
Sthanlee B. Mirador/Sipa USA
The stony director and actor once appeared on the cover of High Times holding a mound of marijuana. Now he’s the brains behind “Hollyweed,” a series that may soon be available on Rivit TV. Set in a dispensary, Smith and “Chappelle’s Show” regular Donnell Rawlings play the sitcom’s odd-couple owners. “It’s ‘Clerks’ in a weed store,” Smith has said. Indeed, even his old comedy partner Jason Mewes shows up for a cameo.
The No. 1 weed rapper has a marijuana empire, starting with Leafs by Snoop, which has products available in Colorado and Canada, a first for an American cannabis company. Their edibles, which are gummies and drops, are dubbed Dogg Treats. Along with his manager-partner Ted Chung, Snoop Dogg owns the media portal Merry Jane and the investment firm Casa Verde Capital, whose portfolio includes the popular delivery service Eaze. He’s also the host of “The Joker’s Wild” on TBS.
Known in the cannabis world as “Big Mike” — no wonder: he’s 6-foot-7 — Straumietis has built a reputation in Hollyweed for throwing wild parties at his “marijuana mansion.” His fortune derives from Advanced Nutrients, a line of organic plant minerals popular among pot cultivators to ward off pests and increase growth. The company claims to have annual revenues of $90 million with sales in 93 countries.
Activist, TV Host
Popular on the cannabis conference circuit, the former TV talk-show host has his own line of products under the Lenitiv and Select CBD brands. His CBD gel caps are available to online customers and his stonier THC blends will soon be sold in pot shops in California and Oregon. Williams is himself a medicinal user as he suffers from MS.
The rapper has put his name to a signature strain called Khalifa Kush, a popular item at Reef Dispensaries in Arizona and Nevada. He also has a line of RAW products, including Wiz Khalifa Raw rolling papers and trays. Wiz’s latest album, “Rolling Papers 2,” came out in July. The rapper wrapped his Dazed & Blazed Tour, co-headlined by Rae Sremmurd, following appearances in Turkey, Belgium, Norway and more.