It’s been a long slog to mainstream acceptance, but as more states decriminalize marijuana, the socio-cultural revolution under way can only be compared to the seismic shifts that occurred in America during the Prohibition era. Major entertainment firms such as MCA and showbusiness dynasties such as the Bronfmans trace their roots to the days of bootlegging and speakeasies, as alcohol was the pot of its time. And as the cannabis business booms, credit is due in no small part to these 20 entertainers, politicians, entrepreneurs and activists who have played key roles in driving the movement forward.
The Oscar winner and current star of the pot comedy “Disjointed” on Netflix discovered the medical value of marijuana when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012. “I’ve had a prescription for some time,” Bates has said. “I’ve really become a believer.”
The Los Angeles-based standup comic has built a career around weed-themed concepts, starting with “The Marijuana-Logues,” a stage show, in 2004. He followed up in 2008 with “Super High Me,” a takeoff on Morgan Spurlock’s “Super Size Me.” Since 2013, he’s produced the web series, “Getting Doug With High” and earlier this year he appeared on Comedy Central’s “The High Court With Doug Benson.”
The New Jersey senator is among a growing group of congressional reps who want to end marijuana prohibition. On Aug. 1, he introduced legislation that would “legalize marijuana on the federal level and go even further in an effort to remedy many of the failures of the War on Drugs.” The bill, however, will likely never come to a vote.
A longtime legalization advocate, Cypress Hill’s frontman received a license in 2015 to own a dispensary in Santa Ana (though red tape has held up the opening of the shop). A longtime grower, several of his strains have won Cannabis Cups. B-Real’s latest venture: the series “Pimp My Grow.”
One half of iconic duo Cheech & Chong, the legendary stoner comic owns Chong’s Choice, a brand of pot products now available in Colorado, Oregon and Washington. At 78, he still tours with Cheech Marin and is launching a new web series, “The Search for the Most High.”
Snoop Dogg’s partner in pot, Chung oversees the Doggfather’s career while also running Merry Jane, Leafs by Snoop, Cashmere Agency, Casa Verde and Flower Shop. He delivered a keynote at the 2016 Cannabis World Congress & Business Expo in Los Angeles.
The rapper, along with his manager and business partner Ted Chung, has his hand in a number of cannabis enterprises: Leafs by Snoop, lifestyle and entertainment portal Merry Jane, and branded waterpipe line Pounds. He’s nominated, along with Martha Stewart, for an Emmy for their VH1 show, “Martha & Snoop’s Potluck Dinner.”
The singer is one of medical marijuana’s loudest advocates, going back to 2004 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer and discovered its effectiveness in treating nausea due to chemotherapy. She’s planning to release a line of cannabis products under the Etheridge Farms brand.
TV Host, Actress
”The View” host suffers from glaucoma and medicates with marijuana in the form of a vape pen. In 2016, she partnered with Maya Elisabeth to found Whoopi & Maya, which offers cannabis lotions and bath oils to sooth menstrual cramps. The products are currently only available in California.
Blues Traveler’s drummer co-owns the pot shop Paper & Leaf with Steve Kessler on Bainbridge Island, Wash. High Times recently named it one of “best cannabis dispensaries in America” because of the store’s “gallery-like vibe” and “massive assortment of flowers, extracts and edibles.”
The Grammy-winning rapper — often referred to as Snoop Dogg’s heir apparent — has his own marijuana strain, Khalifa Kush, described by Leafly as “similar to that of OG Kush: sour lemon and pine with an active cerebral buzz for morning and daytime use.” The 30-year-old Pittsburgh native also has a sponsorship deal with RAW papers and a new short-form series produced by Merry Jane.
TV Host, Comedian
The host of “Real Time” on HBO has the strongest voice on cable when it comes to pot, which he refers to constantly on the show and during his standup concerts. Unlike other star stoners, Maher has yet to jump into the cannabis business, though he’s joked that “Maherijuana” would make a great strain name.
The former Melody Maker (she’s Bob Marley’s only daughter with his wife, Rita) heads Tuff Gong Enterprises and Marley Natural, the family’s line of ganja products, now available in California, Oregon and Washington. She’s the author of a number of books, including 2017’s “Cooking With Herb: 75 Recipes for the Marley Natural Lifestyle.”
Back with the release of “Stony Hill,” his first studio album since 2005, the Grammy winner also co-owns a Stony Hill pot shop in Denver, named after where he grew up in Jamaica. The youngest son of Bob Marley recently purchased an ownership stake in High Times magazine and has a financial interest in Ocean Grown, a California cultivation facility housed in a complex that was once a jail.
The leading celebrity voice for marijuana legalization for more than 50 years, at 84, Nelson is still actively touring with his family band, and espousing personal pot use (see Nelson’s 2012 track “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die”). In 2015, a line of Willie’s Reserve cannabis products was released in Colorado; they’ve since expanded to Washington, Oregon and Nevada. Nelson’s infamously strong “Willie Weed” has been referenced in song (Toby Keith’s “Weed With Willie”) and by fellow entertainers like country singer Kacey Musgraves and → actor Timothy Olyphant, who, in recalling a time when he took “two hits” of the strain at a concert, told Conan O’Brien, “That was one hit too many.”
California’s lieutenant-governer has announced his intention to run for governor of California in 2019, a campaign likely to be supported by marijuana proponents in the state. That’s because Newsom was a major backer of Prop 64, the ballot initiative that legalized marijuana in California in November. In a recent letter, he urged Attorney General Jeff Sessions and President Trump not to increase federal enforcement against a “legal and publicly supported industry … and hand it back to drug cartels and criminals.”
The veteran music manager got his start with Sublime and Skunk Records in the ’90s. Now he runs Silverback Music, with its distinctly stony lineup of artists (Slightly Stoopid, Fishbone, Dumpstaphunk). In 2016, Phillips literally made a record album out of hash. He’s working on a Slightly Stoopid pot product line.
The comic actor who’s appeared in such stoner classics as “Pineapple Express,” “This Is the End” and “Neighbors,” is an investor in Merry Jane, which is home to “Talking Buds,” his web series featuring animated strains (currently in production).
Known in marijuana circles as the “Guru of Ganja,” he specializes in teaching people how to grow pot. His latest book, “Marijuana Harvest: How to Maximize Quality and Yield in Your Cannabis Garden,” is a follow-up to his famous “Marijuana Grower’s Guide.” He and his wife Jane Klein publish his titles and others under the imprint, Quick Trading Co.
The former TV talk-show host, who suffers from multiple sclerosis, is a major medical marijuana proponent and user. He’s working on a line of cannabis products specifically geared toward patients under the LenitivLabs brand.