Most people go about their lives, rarely saying anything of particular importance. But every once in a while, somebody says something so inspirational or poignant, which is then shared again and again. The best examples stand the test of time, and become part of the collective cultural knowledge.
The seven quotes below represent some of the most interesting, insightful or even irritating things that have been said about cannabis. Some of them reflect the medicinal values of the plant, while others speak to the plant’s psychoactive effects; many relate to its legal status and a few more highlight the racial tensions that spurred prohibition in the first place.
Accordingly, it is wise for cannabis enthusiasts and advocates to familiarize themselves with these quotes. Some of the good ones make excellent rhetorical arrows in your debating quiver, while others are likely to be directed at your argument, and in need of refutation.
1. “Of course I know how to roll a joint.”-Martha Stewart
Martha Stewart’s humorous 2013 admission served as a message to America: It’s time to grow up and get over your fear of weed. If the world’s most famous queen of style and etiquette knows how to roll a joint, maybe you should too.
2. “The illegality of cannabis is outrageous, an impediment to full utilization of a drug which helps produce the serenity and insight, sensitivity and fellowship so desperately needed in this increasingly mad and dangerous world.”-Carl Sagan
Carl Sagan was a scientists, educator and writer who introduced much of the world to astronomy and physics, through his Cosmos miniseries. Accordingly, when Sagan uttered these words, many – even those who were formerly uncomfortable with marijuana – began to look at it in a different light.
3. “I have always loved marijuana. It has been a source of joy and comfort to me for many years. And 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.” –Hunter S. Thompson
One of America’s most beloved writers, Hunter S. Thompson has never made a secret of his love of marijuana (or any number of other mind-altering substances). His quintessential work – Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas – is filled with references to cannabis (and yes, plenty of other substances too – how else are you going to survive bat country?)
4. “We have been terribly and systematically misled for nearly 70 years in the United States, and I apologize for my own role in that.” –Dr. Sanjay Gupta
As medical marijuana use has become more widespread, many former skeptics – including doctors – have come around and admitted that cannabis is a valuable medicinal substance. Because of Gupta’s high-visibility, his words carried additional weight.
5. “In strict medical terms marijuana is far safer than many foods we commonly consume… Marijuana in its natural form is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man.” –Hon. Francis Young, DEA
This revealing quote – one of the first such quotes by an important legal figure — has been festooned on T-shirts and bumper stickers for decades. Although Young’s efforts to have marijuana rescheduled failed, he helped get the decriminalization ball rolling.
6. “When I was in England, I experimented with marijuana a time or two, and I didn’t like it. I didn’t inhale and never tried it again.” –Bill Clinton
Bill Clinton’s candidacy was unique for the role young people played in the election – he even went on MTV to record a town-hall style interview with dozens of first time voters. When asked about his cannabis use, Clinton famously tried to tell the “truth,” (we know you inhaled, Mr. President) while not eliminating his chance to elected.
7. “I never understood that line; the point was to inhale. That was the point.” –Barack Obama
What a difference 16 years can make, huh? While Bill Clinton was trying to stay atop a tightrope stretching between the truth and inauguration day, Barack Obama just came out and admitted to using marijuana as a youngster.