There has long been a stigma with pot smokers that they are all lazy, useless stoners who can't be bothered to put down the game controller. In stoner movies — think Knocked Up, Half-Baked, Pineapple Express — potheads are unemployed or barely employed, they run into trouble with the law, and suck at intimate relationships. When marijuana users are talked about in the media, it is with the same sense of irresponsibility, unreliability, and generally silliness.
But the truth is, just like alcohol, the effects of smoking marijuana are different for everyone. It can act as an anti-anxiety, or it can produce paranoia. It can make someone feel very tired, or the high might give someone a nice buzz. The only thing for sure is that it isn't predictable, and it isn't the same for everyone. So, the generalizations about "stoners"? Well, they're indeed just that — generalizations. And thankfully, there are plenty real people out there, from artists to writers to politicians to activists, who openly talk about their marijuana use and their support of its legalization. They stand out as the exceptions to the "stoner" stigma. Hell yes.
Among the Harold and Kumars, between the Cheech and Chongs, there are successful, productive, happy, and healthy pot smokers who regularly contribute to society instead of act as a menace to it, despite what anti-marijuana activists would like to have you believe. Luckily for the smokers and book-lovers of the world, many of these shining examples are indeed authors. And with 4/20, the most epic holiday in stoner culture, having arrived, I've put together list of writers, dead and alive, to put on your dream list of smoking buddies this year:
Hunter S. Thompson
It will surprise no one to find Hunter S. Thomspon's name included on this list. Before his death, he was always very vocal about his love for Mary Jane, saying, "I still think of it as a basic staple of life, along with beer and ice and grapefruits — and millions of Americans agree with me." Forget the five people you would meet in heaven — I hope Thompson is one of the five people I toke with in heaven.
Another author you'd have to wait until the afterlife to light up with, Carl Sagan surprised everyone when he not only admitted to but advocated for smoking weed. If you could ever be lucky enough to find yourself passing a joint back and forth with Carl Sagan, you better be prepared to talk Kepler's Laws and Gaussian distribution, not the Grateful Dead and slam poetry. Who said pot isn't good for the ol' brain, eh?
The first kind of writing that comes to mind when you think of a pot-smoking author is probably not terrifying, complex thrillers. But for Lee Child, a veteran stoner of 45-plus years, smoking five nights a week has led him to more than 70 million books sold. Like Child himself has said, "I’m the poster boy to prove it doesn’t do you much harm," and it would be hard to disagree with one of the best-selling thriller writers to date.
After reading Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, Tom Robbins has been on my wish-list for authors I would love to meet, let alone share a peace pipe with. An outspoken advocate for the exploration and use of psychedelic drugs and a long-time supporter for the legalization of marijuana, Robbins participated in one of the first marijuana protests alongside Allen Ginsberg, and since 2013, he has served on the Advisory Board for the Marijuana Policy Project with the likes of Tommy Chong, Susan Sarandon, and Ani DiFranco, to name a few.
Have you ever thought about getting pointers on joint-rolling from your super-cool grandma? That's what I like to imagine smoking with Maya Angelou would be like — talking about great loves and losses between drags, and walking away with some solid wisdom and a new outlook on life thanks to her timeless wisdom. And although Maya Angelou doesn't publicly speak about her marijuana use now, her biography includes that she smoked "with abandon" in her youth, so there's always hope, right?
Shakespeare's idea of a good time was having a male actor dress up and act like a woman who had to disguise herself and act like a man, so I don't think too many people were surprised when traces of cannabis were found in the pipes in his garden. Not to mention, he uses the term "noted weed" in his "Sonnet 76: Why is my verse so barren of new pride," so it's not like he was trying to hide it. Wouldn't you love to go back in time and take a hit or two backstage at the Globe?
If you weren't lucky enough to be around in the 1960s when the author of One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest took his Merry Pranksters in a colorful school bus on a psychedelic road trip through middle-America, then you missed your chance to toke with Ken Kesey. But have no fear, because you can always read Tom Wolfe's account of the adventure in The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test , and pretend you were riding shotgun.
Though sober himself since the 1980s, Stephen King still supports the legalization of marijuana in his home state of Maine. In interviews, King has stated that "I think that marijuana should not only be legal, I think it should be a cottage industry." All in favor, say "aye."
If you ever had dreams of getting your unpublished manuscript edited by your favorite author over a frothy beer, you might want to reconsider the dream, particularly if your favorite author is Ian McEwan. Years before Scientific Reporter published a study whose findings show that marijuana is safer than alcohol, he was already making that argument.
It was the 1970s, so everyone was doing it, right? Jennifer Egan is no exception to this rule, and she has openly spoken about her experiences with drugs in her youth in San Francisco. Just put on some Patti Smith, climb up to the roof, and you can relive the glory days right along with her.