Green Heroes: Champions of Cannabis Culture
By Herbert M. Green
Breaking a taboo takes a lot of guts, perseverance and passion. As the world is slowly warming up to the idea that adults should be free to use cannabis, it is time to reflect on the deeds and accomplishments of certain individuals, cannabis advocates and pioneers alike, who have made it their mission in life to break the taboo surrounding cannabis, or at least our perception of cannabis, and bring it into the limelight.
If you consider yourself a cannabis enthusiast, then here are a few names you should know:
Raphael Mechoulam (5 November 1930)
The man whom in 1964 became the first person to isolate and synthesize THC, together with other cannabinoids like CBD and CBG, effectively becoming the ‘godfather of Cannabis Research’. Not only did he pioneer the research around cannabinoids and the way the endocannabinoid system works, discovering some interesting tidbits about the inner workings of the human brain along the way, he and his colleagues also paved the way for other researchers to follow in his footsteps. Besides that, he is still a vocal advocate of making medicinal cannabis accessible for every human being on this planet.
Dr Lester Grinspoon (24 June 1928)
When Dr Lester Grinspoon, now an associate professor emeritus of psychiatry at the Harvard Medical School, started to research the effects of cannabis in 1967, he was convinced that his friend Carl Sagan and all other potheads around him were endangering themselves with this harmful drug. By the time he published his first book “Marihuana Reconsidered “ in 1971, he had turned that opinion around and became an outspoken advocate for the benefits of cannabis use. He even ended up testifying before a senate committee, about the benefits of cannabis and was an expert witness in various legal proceedings, including the deportation hearings of John Lennon. To this day he is a spokesperson and advocate for (medicinal) cannabis use and created the websites Marijuana: The Forbidden Medicine and marijuana-uses.com
Ed Rosenthal (1944)
Known as the “guru of ganja” for over 40 years, Mr Rosenthal has written more than a dozen books about cannabis cultivation. Rosenthal is a horticulturist, author, publisher, and cannabis grower known for his advocacy of the legalization of cannabis use. He served as a columnist for High Times Magazine during the 1980s and 1990s. After the passage of California’s pioneering Proposition 215 in 1996, he worked together with state and local governments to implement the state approved delivery of pharmaceutical-grade cannabis to patients with a doctor’s recommendation. Even though he was deputized by the City of Oakland to provide marijuana for patients, he was arrested by federal agents in 2002 for the cultivation of our beloved plant. His arrest and subsequent trial shifted public opinion in favor of state medical cannabis laws and focused attention on the question of whether cannabis laws had become more harmful to society than the behavior they were intended to regulate.
Jack Herer (June 18, 1939 – April 15, 2010)
The author of the famous book ‘The Emperor Wears No Clothes’, unofficially dubbed the ‘Hemp Bible’, has been continuously in print for 31 years. Jack Herer, repeatedly called the “Emperor of Hemp” by his peers, was an American cannabis activist who fought to decriminalize and legalize cannabis and to expand the use of hemp as an industrial cash crop. He also founded and served as the director of the organization Help End Marijuana Prohibition (HEMP).
Ethan Nadelmann (13 March 1957)
If it weren’t for the founder of the Drug Policy Alliance, Ethan Nadelmann, and his colleagues, the world probably wouldn’t be nearly as far along in paving the way to cannabis legalization worldwide or, at least in the US. Way before there was talk about people being able to get their bud from legal sources, Ethan and co. were pointing out red flags surrounding the War on Drugs. There were few people more outspoken about cannabis legalization in 1996, the year California became the first state to allow medical cannabis. Now that Trump is president and picked US Senator Jeff Sessions as the new Attorney General, we will need exceptional individuals like Ethan Nadelmann more then ever!
José Mujica Cordano (20 mei 1935)
José Alberto “El Pepe” Mujica Cordano, now former president of Uruguay, surprised the world in June 2012, with plans, later passed by the House of Representatives, that made Uruguay the first country in the world to legalize the cultivation, sale and use of cannabis for its inhabitants. In doing so, Mujica set the stage for the international discussion about cannabis legalization we are having today. Mujica, former guerrilla leader turned politician, is also known as the ‘poorest’ president in the world. While in office, he lived at his small ramshackle farm just outside the Uruguayan capital, with his wife and three-legged dog, Manuela, drove around in his banged up 1987 Volkswagen Beetle and gave away 90% of his presidential salary.
Troy Dayton and Steve DeAngelo
As founders of ArcView Group, Steve DeAngelo and Troy Dayton laid the groundwork for the, now booming, cannabis industry. These activists turned entrepreneurs effectively put cannabis on the map as a billion dollar product and help cannabis entrepreneurs, who are looking to grab a piece of that pie, by connecting them to investors and raise venture capital.
To be continued???
I hope that after reading this article some of you will realize that the long road to cannabis legalization worldwide didn’t happen on its own. It took perseverance and sometimes suffering through considerable hardships that these daring individuals helped us get to where we are right now!
I would also like to note that this list is far from complete and that there are a lot of other people out there (alive or dead, men and women) that deserve to be recognized as Green Heroes. So if you feel like I left any notable persons out and would like to see this list grow in a follow-up article, please leave a comment below and hopefully, we might just make this Green Heroes list a recurring segment.