Longform

Famous Tokers

Jazz legend Louis Armstrong. He preferred Mary Jane to booze and smoked it daily throughout most of his life, including before recordings and performances. Armstrong once proclaimed that gage, as marijuana was called in the '20s, "makes you forget all the bad things that happen to a Negro" and urged President Dwight D. Eisenhower to legalize it.

Tea Party rabble-rouser Glenn Beck. How do you think he comes up with all of those conspiracies about President Obama and his socialist agenda? By smoking weed every day for 15 years. All the THC has saturated his synapses.

Comedian Rodney Dangerfield. During a medical marijuana conference, Dangerfield's widow shared a joke describing her late husband's love affair with reefer: "He'd say, 'I tell ya, that marijuana really has an effect on you. The other day, I smoked a half a joint, and I got so hungry I ate the other half.' " Mr. I Don't Get No Respect toked for 62 years to treat anxiety. Judging by his jittery demeanor, we're not quite sure how well it worked.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. When a journalist asked him if he ever toked, hizzoner replied, "You bet I did. And I enjoyed it." The comment was used in an ad campaign by the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) Foundation.

Politician Newt Gingrich. Before he helped write the Contract With America and passed moral judgment on everybody else, Gingrich was the ultimate stoner in college. In 1982, he wrote a letter to the Journal of the American Medical Association supporting medicinal marijuana.

Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps. After winning a record eight gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the Baltimore Bullet was photographed showing revelers at a University of South Carolina house party the type of lung capacity needed to win eight gold medals — by taking a massive bong hit.

Novelist John Updike. Who says pot makes people lazy? Updike toked but didn't procrastinate. He cranked out 35 novels, winning a pair of Pulitzers and a couple of National Book Awards along the way.

Nobel Prize winner Richard P. Feynman. Deriving a way to analyze atomic interaction through simple diagrams probably required the mind-opening power that comes only from high-grade Kush, which explains why Feynman admitted to smoking pot.

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Although he claims he hasn't medicated himself with pot since the '70s, the Governator knows the value of marijuana as a cash crop. He is the reason Golden State residents in November will vote on legalizing weed for recreational use. And as recently as 2007, Schwarzenegger told British GQ he doesn't consider marijuana "a drug but a leaf."

Queen Victoria. Her Royal Majesty's personal physician, Sir John Russell Reynolds, found cannabis useful in treating the queen's menstrual cramps, dysmenorrhea, migraines, neuralgia, epileptic convulsions, and senile insomnia.


More on Marijuana:



Marijuana by the numbers

Medical marijuana: Taking a legal toke

Grow-house blues

Weed history: A timeline

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Francisco Alvarado was born in Nicaragua and grew up in Miami, giving him unique insight into the Magic City and all its dark corners. An investigative reporter with a knack for uncovering corruption, Alvarado made his bones as a staff writer at Miami New Times and remains in dogged pursuit of the next juicy story.