The 50 most influential marijuana users

Oprah Winfrey and George W. Bush are just a couple of names on the Marijuana Policy Project's newly released list

Published September 20, 2013 12:30PM (EDT)

George W. Bush
George W. Bush

This article originally appeared on Alternet.


Marijuana Policy Project, the nation’s largest marijuana policy organization, released a list of the “Top 50 Most Influential Marijuana Users” in the United States on Wednesday. At the top of the list is none other than our in chief Barack Obama, who has sent more pot smokers and other nonviolent drug offenders to prison in his five years as president than any before him. Just below Obama are media mogul Oprah Winfrey, former President Bill Clinton, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, and television show host Stephen Colbert. Others include the Daily Show's host Jon Stewart, entertainer and entrepreneur Jay-Z, Secretary of State John Kerry, business magnate George Soros, and comedian Bill Maher. So much for the notion that 'stoners' are lazy work-o-phobes.

“The goal here is to dispel the myth that marijuana users are ‘losers’ who lack motivation and highlight the fact that they are typically productive and oftentimes quite successful,” said Mason Tvert, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project. “As this list demonstrates, many of our nation’s most successful citizens have used marijuana.”

The list is composed of Americans who have used marijuana at least once during their lifetimes, including some who speak openly about their current marijuana use. They were selected based on their “power to influence cultural and social attitudes, political clout, individual wealth, and … media profile”—the same criteria Out Magazine uses to select its “Power 50” list of LGBT Americans. The list includes known supporters and opponents of marijuana policy reform.

“We hope this list gets people thinking about the fact that marijuana prohibition laws cause more harm than the substance itself,” Tvert said. “Some of these folks might not have made it to where they are today had they been arrested for using marijuana.”

The list:

1. Barack Obama

"When I was a kid, I inhaled frequently. That was the point."

(Source: YouTube)
2. Oprah Winfrey

"[Television show host Andy Cohen] asked the last time Winfrey had smoked marijuana. 'Uh … 1982,' Winfrey replied. 'Let's hang out after the show,' Cohen joked. 'Okay,' Winfrey laughed. 'I hear it's gotten better.'"

(Source: Bravo)
3. Bill Clinton
"I experimented with marijuana a time or two."

(Source: YouTube)

4. Clarence Thomas

"The White House said today that Judge Clarence Thomas, President Bush's Supreme Court nominee, had smoked marijuana while in college."

(Source: New York Times)

5. Stephen Colbert

"First, [in high school], I smoked a lot of pot...and that’s how I got to know the people ‘half in’ the society of my high school and we waved at each other over the bong. Then I got to know people by making jokes.”

(Source: San Francisco Chronicle Interview (January 2006))

6. Jon Stewart

“Do you know how many movies I wrote when I was high?”

(Source: The Daily Show)

7. Jay-Z

"I smoked some weed, and that’s how I finished ‘Izzo.’"

(Source: XXL Magazine)

8. John Kerry

"Yes." In response to the question: "Which of you are ready to admit to having used marijuana in the past?"

(Source: On The Issues)

9. George Soros

"He said he had tried marijuana, enjoyed it, 'but it did not become a habit and I have not tasted it in many years.'"

(Source: Reuters, 2/6/97)

10.  Bill Maher

"Look, I have never made a secret of the fact that I have tried marijuana... About 50,000 times."

(Source: YouTube)

11.  Bill Gates

“As for drugs – well, Gates was certainly not unusual there. Marijuana was the pharmaceutical of choice…”

12.  George W. Bush
"I wouldn't answer the marijuana questions. You know why? Because I don't want some little kid doing what I tried."

(Source: New York Times)

13.  Andrew Cuomo

"I did experiment with marijuana when I was a youth."

(Source: New York Daily News)

14.  Rand Paul

"According to this woman, who requested anonymity because of her current job as a clinical psychologist, "He and Randy came to my house, they knocked on my door, and then they blindfolded me, tied me up, and put me in their car. They took me to their apartment and tried to force me to take bong hits. They'd been smoking pot."

(Source: GQ Magazine)

15.  Sanjay Gupta

"I have tried it."

(Source: CNN)
16.  LeBron James
“James also revealed he and his teammates smoked marijuana one night after getting access to a hotel room in Akron.”
(Source: ESPN)
17.  Rush Limbaugh

"I wouldn’t have been able to make it through hundreds of shows if it weren’t for the benefits of medical marijuana"

18.  George Clooney
“The owner of a local cannabis café told reporters George Clooney was no stranger there.”

(Source: The Weed Blog)

19.  Michael Bloomberg

'You bet I did. And I enjoyed it.''

(Source: New York Times)
20.  Lady Gaga
"I smoke a lot of pot when I write music."

(Source: USA Today)

21.  Brad Pitt

“I was hiding out from the celebrity thing, I was smoking way too much [marijuana].”

(Source: Daily Mail)

22.  Ted Turner

"CNN anchor Gwen Scott claimed it is common knowledge that Turner sits in his office and smokes marijuana."

(Source: Cannabis Culture)

23.  Tom Brokaw

“…what I did was experiment with a little marijuana like a lot of other people and walked away…”

(Source: Media Bistro)

24.  Michael Phelps

“[Phelps] firmly denies that he takes drugs, suggesting that the notorious photo of him smoking from a bong was a one-time lapse of judgment.”
(Source: Huffington Post)

25.  Jennifer Aniston

“I enjoy it once in a while. There is nothing wrong with that. Everything in moderation. I wouldn't call myself a pot-head.”
(Source: Daily Mail)

26.  David Letterman

"I went through one period when I smoked a surprising, a really breath-taking, amount of grass almost every night.”

(Source: Cannabis Culture)

27.  Morgan Freeman

"Never give up the ganja."

(Source: The Guardian)
28.  Angelina Jolie
“… the one that has the worst effect for me was pot. I felt silly and giggly - I hate feeling like that.”

(Source: Metro)

29.  Martha Stewart

"Of course I know how to roll a joint."

(Source: Laist)

30.  Seth MacFarlane

"I don't smoke much pot anymore."

(Source: Star Pulse)

31.  John Hickenlooper

'As I've already been open about in the past -- and as I assume many would expect -- I made personal choices when I was younger that I neither support nor condone for others and certainly wouldn't encourage through public policy,' Hickenlooper said."

(Source: Media Awareness Project)

32.  Andrew Sullivan

"The blogger and commentator Andrew Sullivan was busted in July for possessing a small amount of marijuana within the Cape Cod National Seashore."

(Source: Boston Globe)
33.  Susan Sarandon
"Cocaine didn't interest me. Not at all. I'm way way back in the early pot…"(Source: LA Times)

34.  Conan O'Brien

“I’ve tried pot, but it doesn’t do much for me.”

(Source: Pink is the New Blog)

35.  Matt Damon

“The first time I smoked was at home with my mother and step-father.”

(Source: Weed Quotes)

36.  Lincoln Chafee

"In 1999, then-Warwick Mayor Lincoln D. Chafee won accolades for his honesty in acknowledging he used marijuana and cocaine as a 1970s student at Brown University."

37.  Maya Angelou
“Angelou settled into a job as a waitress and began smoking marijuana with abandon.”
38.  Justin Bieber
"Bieber both confirmed that he'd been caught smoking weed and apologized for it."
(Source: Huffington Post)
39.  Sarah Palin
"I can't claim a Bill Clinton and say that I never inhaled.”

(Source: CBS News)

40.  Phil Jackson

"In 1975 he wrote “Maverick,” a memoir about his days playing in the NBA. Among other things, Jackson spoke frankly about marijuana use."

(Source: Salon)

41.  Johnny Depp

"I'm not a great pothead or anything like that… but weed is much, much less dangerous than alcohol."

(Source: Celebstoner)

42.  Madonna

"It [my behavior on the show in 1994] wasn't because I was excited about you [David Letterman]. I think it may have had something to do with the joint I smoked before I came on.

(Source: Vulture)

43.  Robert Downey, Jr.

“Robert Downey Jr. said he started smoking weed at age 8.”

(Source: NBC - New York)

44.  Bryan Cranston

"Pot always just made me sleepy.”

(Source: Highbeam Business)

45.  Miley Cyrus

"You know you're a stoner when your friends make you a Bob Marley cake."

(Source: LA Times)

46.  Hugh Hefner

“Smoking helped put me in touch with the realm of the senses.”

(Source: Schaffer Library of Drug Policy)

47.  Rihanna

"Kush rolled, glass full... I prefer the better things!"

(Source: Daily Mail)
48.  Oliver Stone

“I went to Vietnam, and I was there for a long time. [Using marijuana] made the difference between staying human or, as Michael Douglas said, becoming a beast.”

(Source: The Raw Story)

49.  Rick Steves

"I have used cannabis all over the world."

(Source: LA Weekly)

50.  Snoop Lion (Formerly Snoop Dogg)

“It makes me feel the way I need to feel.”

By April M. Short

MORE FROM April M. Short

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