Lighter, Cannabis… Action! Toking with the stars

It is no secret that for centuries, we humans have been consuming cannabis to reduce stress levels and treat a number of medical conditions. Used properly, this herb can also be a valuable key to unlocking our artistic sides and for opening our minds to alternate creative processes. Considering all of these benefits, it should come as no surprise that a growing number of Hollywood A-listers are passionately pro-cannabis and thankfully, they’re not remotely ashamed or afraid to say so!

Despite the painfully regressive stance of the US federal government on cannabis legalization, these outspoken celebrities are aiding in the de-stigmatization and normalization of cannabis use. The ever-lengthening list of celebs who unabashedly consume cannabis includes Oliver Stone, John Stewart, Dave Chapelle, Jennifer Aniston, Brad Pitt, Jennifer Lawrence, Matthew McConaughey, Seth Rogan, Zach Galifianakis, Seth MacFarlane, Whoopi Goldberg and Megan Fox … just to name a few. The paparazzi has also sneakily snapped some heartwarming photographs of Drew Barrymore and Cameron Diaz conversing, sunbathing and sharing a joint. Even back in 2007, Kirsten Dunst was quoted saying, “I think America’s view on weed is ridiculous. If everyone smoked weed, the world would be a better place.”

Justin Timberlake echoed a similar, yet beautifully simple sentiment when he said, “Sometimes I have a brain that needs to be turned off. Some people are just better high.” And recently in a radio interview, Lady Gaga declared that she “has to be high to be creative.”

Considering the notoriously high-stress nature of the television and film industry, as well as the lifestyle often associated with that unique type of fame and stardom, one could conclude that cannabis could be a useful tool for success. A low-risk drug that can help alleviate stress, enhance creativity and actually has medical benefits? That sounds like exactly what the doctor would order … if the government didn’t make it federally illegal to order it.

Hollywood is certainly no stranger to substance abuse and addiction, another arena in which cannabis products are believed to hold significant promise. But unfortunately, until our federal government decides to declassify cannabis as a Schedule 1 substance, they will not be aiding or funding any of this desperately needed research. Luckily, we live in a country with fiercely intelligent and independent citizens who love and understand what “freedom” and “scientific evidence” means to the world, and therefore, this research is still being conducted at the state level as well as independently.

Some celebrities are seriously stepping up to the plate and utilizing their larger-than-average platforms and social influence to more formally advocate for policy change. Tommy Chong, Woody Harrelson, Bill Maher, Ann Druyan and Ron Mann are all the advisory board of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. Individual reasons for demanding reform vary widely, from personal medical conditions to socio-economic injustice intolerance. In a 2011 interview with a British publication, Jack Nicholson voiced a well-known, embarrassing and frustrating truth about marijuana law in the United States.

“I don’t tend to say this publicly but we can see it [cannabis] is a curative thing … More than 85% of men incarcerated in America are on drug-related offenses. It costs $40,000 a year for every prisoner. If they were really serious about the economy, there would be a serious discussion about legalization.”

Another one of the most prominent and vocal cannabis activists in Hollywood is none other than Morgan Freeman. When commenting on the impact of American cannabis prohibition he stated, “You’re just making criminals out of people who aren’t engaged in criminal activity. And we’re spending zillions of dollars trying to fight a war we can’t win! We could make zillions, just legalize it and tax it like we do liquor… It’s stupid.”

Freeman uses cannabis primarily for pain management and says that it’s the only treatment that relieves the symptoms of his fibromyalgia. Patrick Stewart has also said that he is a daily cannabis user, applying it topically for the arthritis in his hands. He, too, says he hopes that opening up and talking about it will help remove the “prejudice, fear, and ignorance” surrounding cannabis.

Celebrities using cannabis to treat medical conditions is part of what helps them perform at the level their fans expect. SNL’s Pete Davidson has been very open about his use of cannabis to mitigate the symptoms of his Crohn’s disease when Western medicine failed to help him. He illustrated the magnitude of change that cannabis has on his quality of life when he told High Times, “I wouldn’t be able to do SNL if I didn’t smoke weed… I wouldn’t be able to do anything really.”

These stars choose to use cannabis for a wide variety of reasons, many of which apply to people across all types of careers and lifestyles. Unfortunately, countless people who were never graced by the limelight have vanished into the dark prison cells of our nation because they never won the hearts and minds of the American public. Their cases were not newsworthy, they were not televised and the backlash of the American public was not a factor. To varying degrees, all Americans today are needlessly suffering the consequences of our government’s “official” stance on cannabis.