Modern cannabis has evolved from its original medicinal origins, navigating the byways of human interference and classifications in the process. What was once a widely accepted form of medicine spent decades largely forgotten only to be designated a drug akin to crack cocaine and heroin and carrying identical jail sentences for its possession. How we got from strict criminalization to this slow wave of recreational legalization has much to do with the modern cultural icons who wore their cannabis use proudly, defining and shattering the archetype of a cannabis user. These weed pioneers set the stage for the demystification of weed, and their legacies persist today.
Cheech and Chong
Oh, there’s no way you can put together an “Icons of Weed Culture” article without shouting out the comedy duo that not only defined a generation of stoners but normalized the use of cannibis without multicultural celebrities Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong. Today Cheech Marin is a television star and Tommy Chong is an author, activist, and bong magnate. Both are still embracing their weed icon status. (Photo: Publicity photo of the comedy team Cheech and Chong, ©1972 William Morris Agency)
Lester Grinspoon, a senior psychiatrist at the Massachusetts Mental Health Center and emeritus professor at Harvard Medical School, wrote the book on modern medicinal marijuana, 1971’s Marihuana Reconsidered. At the ripe age of 84, Dr. Grinspoon is a current board member NORML and remains an outspoken marijuana advocate.
You’ve seen the name emblazoned on dispensary menus throughout the Pacific Northwest, but Jack Herer is more than a prizewinning strain of cannabis. Herer was a trailblazing activist for the industrial and retail use of hemp, Without Herer’s tireless efforts, we might not be able to buy hemp body lotion at our local drugstores.