Cannabis News Stop the Drug War!
  The Stars Come 'Out'
Posted by CN Staff on June 15, 2004 at 07:26:08 PT
By Ellen Komp, AlterNet 
Source: AlterNet 

cannabis What do Rodney Dangerfield, Michelle Phillips, Bill Maher, Jesse Ventura, Frances McDormand and Jennifer Aniston have in common? They've come clean about pot and they want others to as well.

Comedian Rodney Dangerfield's new autobiography, It's Not Easy Being Me: A Lifetime of No Respect But Plenty of Sex and Drugs (HarperCollins), contains surprising news: he smokes marijuana. Dangerfield, 82, says he's been smoking pot for nearly 50 years, joking, "I was a hippie long before hippies were born."

Dangerfield's neglectful parents left him with little self esteem, and he admirably channeled his despair into his act. The ugly, unloved kid had quite a full life, and his book is full of interesting anecdotes, interspersed with hilarious jokes. His first "I don't get no respect" joke was "I used to play hide and seek. They wouldn't even look for me." As well as giving us 50 years of great jokes, Dangerfield has helped foster the success of countless young comics, by hosting an HBO comedy showcase and running a comedy club in New York City.

Dangerfield tells of drinking heavily to counter his depression, but had better results with marijuana. He writes, "Booze is the real culprit in our society. Booze is traffic accidents, booze is wife beating. In my life I've seen many doctors and psychiatrists, and all of them have told me that I'm better off with pot than with booze." Dangerfield now has a doctor's recommendation from a California physician to use marijuana medicinally for high blood pressure and pain. He cautions against smoking on the job, however, saying his comic timing is off while "high" and he does not perform under marijuana's influence.

Dangerfield's admissions are part of a wave of revelations that is being compared to the gay movement's "outing", a strategy that ultimately helped gays achieve greater civil rights. The Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) has launched a campaign to enlist VIPs to their cause with an advisory board that includes Michelle Phillips, Bill Maher, Jesse Ventura, Dr. Andrew Weil, and former US Surgeon General Jocelyn Elders. tells stars' stories and issues "Outie" awards to celebs who come clean. Another site -- -- encourages ordinary folks to come out, too.

Academy Award-winning actress Frances McDormand and Emmy winner Jennifer Aniston have come "out," McDormand to High Times magazine and Aniston to Rolling Stone and the foreign press. Arnold Schwarzenegger admitted he smoked pot in the 1970s just before winning the governorship of California. The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) recently ran ads quoting New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg saying of marijuana smoking, "You bet I did. And I enjoyed it."

Talk show host and former Navy intelligence officer Montel Williams devotes a full chapter to medical marijuana in his new autobiography, "Climbing Higher" (New American Library). Williams, who suffers from multiple sclerosis, uses marijuana for medicinal purposes. When interviewed after marijuana was found in his bag at a Detroit airport in November 2003, Williams made no apologies. "I think it's time for a change," he said. "I hope to inspire others to take a stand." Williams said he uses marijuana to ease pain and depression, in lieu of pharmaceutical drugs. "Oxycontin and Vicodin are extremely addictive. Percocet didn't work. Marijuana is the best tool for me," he said.

Basketball great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was similarly outed in 1999, when marijuana was discovered in his bag at a Toronto airport. He was merely fined when he said he uses marijuana to alleviate the nausea associated with migraine headaches that have bothered him for years. Former NBA star and Senator Bill Bradley admitted to smoking pot on a pundit show during his run for the 2000 Democratic presidential nomination, prompting Sam Donaldson to out himself also. At the time, Bradley was running against admitted pot smoker Al Gore. John Kerry also inhaled.

More surprising is the fact that Newt Gingrich smoked pot, and introduced a bill to ease federal restrictions on medical marijuana in 1981. On March 19, 1982 he wrote in the Journal of the American Medical Association, "We believe licensed physicians are competent to employ marijuana, and patients have a right to obtain marijuana legally, under medical supervision, from a regulated source. Federal policies do not reflect a factual or balanced assessment of marijuana's use as a medicant."

Out With The Old

Celebrities coming out for marijuana decriminalization, based on their own experiences, is nothing new and it isn't just entertainment figures and politicians who have spoken out.

Anthropologist Margaret Mead testified before Congress in favor of the legalization of marijuana in 1969, and she told Newsweek that she had tried it once herself. Noted scientists Richard Feynman and Carl Sagan used pot, and Sagan said it inspired some of his work.

Paul McCartney helped pay for a 1967 advertisement in the London Times that called for legalization of pot possession, release of all prisoners on possession charges and government research into marijuana's medical uses. "I think we could decrimalize marijuana, and I'd like to see a really unbised medical report on it," he said after being deported from Japan for bringing nearly half a pound of marijuana into Tokyo for a Band on the Run concert tour in 1980. (John Lennon told a Paris newspaper that their band smoked pot at Buckingham Palace before being decorated by the queen in 1965.)

Village Voice jazz critic Gary Giddins discovered that Louis Armstrong's manager suppressed parts of the 1954 autobiography Satchmo: My Life in New Orleans that dealt with marijuana. Armstrong planned to publish a sequel which he said he would call "Gage"--slang for marijuana. Giddins also "outed" Bing Crosby in the biography Bing Crosby: A Pocketful of Dreams, (2001, Little Brown & Co.), writing that Crosby smoked it before it became illegal and surprised interviewers in the 1960s and 1970s by suggesting it be decriminalized. Bing's eldest son, Gary, told Giddins that Bing advised him to use marijuana instead of drinking. Gary recalled, "there were other times when marijuana was mentioned and he'd get a smile on his face. He'd kind of think about it and there'd be that little smile."

Alcohol and Tobacco Backlash?

Acclaimed film director Robert Altman has been on record as a marijuana smoker for over a decade. A review of Altman's movie "The Player" in the New York Times, April 5 1992, quotes him saying, "I was a heavy drinker, but the alcohol affected my heart rather than my liver. So I stopped. And I miss it. I really like that kind of life. I smoke grass now. I say that to everybody, because marijuana should be legalized. It's ridiculous that it isn't. If at the end of the day I feel like smoking a joint I do it. It changes the perception of what I've been through all day." Altman serves on NORML's advisory board.

TV star Larry Hagman comes to similar conclusions in his autobiography, Hello Darlin': Tall (and Absolutely True) Tales About My Life. Hagman writes, "Why that stuff should be illegal is beyond me. It's so benign compared to alcohol. When you come right down to it, alcohol destroys your body and makes you do violent things. With grass you sit back and enjoy life."

Willie Nelson told Country Music Television's Inside Fame program, "I used to smoke three, four packs of cigarettes a day. I used to drink as much whiskey and beer as anybody in the world. I would have been dead if it hadn't been for pot, because when I started smoking pot I quit smoking cigarettes and drinking." While adding that he doesn't encourage drug use by young people, he said that marijuana is the best vice in dealing with stress. "The highest killer on the planet is stress, and so many people medicate themselves in one way or another," said Nelson. "But the best medicine for stress, if you have to take something, is pot."

With so many stars saying that marijuana is more beneficial to them than are than pharmaceuticals, alcohol and tobacco, one wonders whether those industries are behind the movement to keep pot illegal. Companies like Phillip Morris and Johnson & Johnson are known to be major contributors to the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, the group that once ran the fried egg "This is your brain on drugs" ads and admitted it used a brain scan of a coma victim to falsely depict a drug user's brain. The group is now headed by former drug "czar" Bill Bennett, a former chain smoker who acknowledged last year his compulsive gambling cost him $8 million, but wouldn't admit it was an addiction. Our federal government is still spending millions on rabid anti-marijuana ads, despite studies showing they have little effect.

Former US Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala admitted to smoking pot in college in an interview with Diane Sawyer before her appointment. Later, she stood with Attorney General Janet Reno and Drug "Czar" Barry McCaffrey, threatening to revoke doctors' licenses for recommending medical marijuana (a successful civil challenge later backed the government off). "Marijuana is illegal, dangerous, unhealthy and wrong," Shalala said. "It's a one-way ticket to dead-end hopes and dreams." But her indulgence doesn't seem to have dead-ended Shalala.

Aniston, in her Rolling Stone interview, said, "I wouldn't call myself a pothead. I enjoy it once in a while. Everything in moderation." Aniston also drew a line between marijuana and harder drugs. Those are reasonable messages young people should be hearing from someone they admire and trust, but they won't hear them in our zero tolerance school programs, or in government-sponsored drug education programs, which preach abstinence as the only option.

Some claim that smoking pot was all right in the 1970s, but believe that marijuana is much stronger now, a "fact" not backed up by the government's own studies. Nothing has changed about pot in the last 30 years but the political climate. And it looks like that's changing again.

When the news of Dangerfield's marijuana use first broke in August 2002 (when he surprised nurses by lighting a joint in a hospital bathroom), his publicist Kevin Sasaki said his office was flooded by calls - all of them positive - after the story hit the stands. "Everyone wanted to tell him, 'You go!' He's become a hero of sorts," Sasaki said. With 80 million admitted pot smokers in the US alone, Dangerfield was suddenly reaching an untapped fan base. He got my respect.

Ellen Komp manages the website --

Sources for this story appear there.

Source: AlterNet (US)
Author: Ellen Komp, AlterNet
Published: June 14, 2004
Copyright: 2004 Independent Media Institute

Related Articles & Web Sites:

Marijuana Policy Project



NORML's Ad Campaign Pictures

Montel Speaks for Medical Marijuana

Celebrities Join Call for Rational MJ Policies

Celebrities Join Legal Marijuana Campaign

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Comment #14 posted by The GCW on June 15, 2004 at 19:37:04 PT
Remember when
the Democratic prez nominees were asked if they inhaled?

The ones that didn't inhale were compelled to apologize etc.

The same should go for the big names... they might be compelled to apologize if they haven't...

[ Post Comment ]

Comment #13 posted by mayan on June 15, 2004 at 16:23:55 PT
"With so many stars saying that marijuana is more beneficial to them than are than pharmaceuticals, alcohol and tobacco, one wonders whether those industries are behind the movement to keep pot illegal."

Gee, ya' think?

[ Post Comment ]

Comment #12 posted by E_Johnson on June 15, 2004 at 11:20:41 PT
It's fat Virgil and fat sticks to fat
Everything fat-soluble that enters the body gets stuck in the fat and is released into the urine slowly, that is my understanding.

THC is lipophilic -- fat-soluble. Like vitamin A, which also builds up in the body while water-soluble vitamin C washes out very quickly.

[ Post Comment ]

Comment #11 posted by Virgil on June 15, 2004 at 10:57:30 PT
My question is-
Why does the body store THC when it is introduced to the body?

Alcohol is a toxin and the body works unceasingly until it is flushed from the body. Now this would be true of many medicines and other things unwanted by the body. But not only does the body store the THC and maybe other cannabinoids for all I know, it can store them for long periods of time.

Now would that not be some indication that the body does not want to piss away this nutrition? Really. Why does it do that?

[ Post Comment ]

Comment #10 posted by Virgil on June 15, 2004 at 10:46:17 PT
Restoring trust
"The highest killer on the planet is stress, and so many people medicate themselves in one way or another," said Nelson. "But the best medicine for stress, if you have to take something, is pot."

If you say so Willie. The finest universities and research centers in the world have learned at least one thing concerning NIH and NIDA research on Miracleplant. It is not to be trusted. All over the world doctors and researchers are gaining knowledge in the miracle that is cannabis. That ship has set sail with the only purpose to find the untold story of Miracle Cannabis.

How can the US ever regain the trust of the world. It has to admit to past aggressions and atrocities and vow a new path. The arrogant empire has not yielded yet, but the world and truth will eventually humble us.

Kerry can fight on with his lies and distortions and crimes against humanity and prove to history that he cannot see decades of unjustice, failure, and inflicted misery. Who is going to believe him besides the blissfully ignorant? Silence is not immunity from the crimes against humanity for carrying on the War for Prohibition.

As America spins and spins, the great question before us is "Are we a democracy?" and the answer is no. There would be the hair splitters that would answer "We are a Republic." The answer is that we are not a Republic or a Democracy, but a polyarchy. When we answer the big questions with intellectual honesty everything else will fall in place. To end CP without drawing on a true reality of the biggest of pictures is like wanting the sun to come through the portal of your room on the ship. The sun is going to do what it is going to do and the window will not move unless the ship itself turns.

Of course some people could have sun if they only opened the window and unclosed their mind. The biggest thing for sun though is the Internet- it is like coming out from below to join everyone with free sun for everyone.

[ Post Comment ]

Comment #9 posted by E_Johnson on June 15, 2004 at 10:42:16 PT
Now I will embarass Alternet to death
"When the news of Dangerfield's marijuana use first broke in August 2002 (when he surprised nurses by lighting a joint in a hospital bathroom), "

The story was broken by the National Enquirer.

They're too high-falutin at AlterNet to give actual credit to the Enquiorer. That would spoilt their alterna-gravitas entirely.

The Enquirer deserves more respect. This is the publication that nailed OJ in the civil trial, when no other journalistic organization could get the goods on him.

They funded a search by a group of paparazzis through every photo of OJ ever taken anywhere before the murders. They found photos of him wearing those exact same Bruno Magli shoes he swore under oath at the criminal trial he never saw before in his life. Those photos discredited him on the witness stand and assured a guilty verdict in the civil trial.

Where was the New York Times and the so-called legitimate press when that went down?

The paparazzis and the tabloids were able to bring us the only truth justice found in that whole case.

The government let us down, the established press let us down. The Enquirer was there, oddly enough, with the truth.

[ Post Comment ]

Comment #8 posted by Virgil on June 15, 2004 at 10:42:12 PT
EJ- agreed
They are much more interested in pleasing the advertisers than really printing news and perspective. They are just sloganeering with "All the news fit to print." They would call it a slogan and some would say it was hollow at best. I regard it as an outright lie.

[ Post Comment ]
Comment #7 posted by goneposthole on June 15, 2004 at 10:39:22 PT
Fifty years
He ain't dead yet after all those years of smoking cannabis.

[ Post Comment ]
Comment #6 posted by Richard Paul Zuckerm on June 15, 2004 at 10:36:47 PT:

We need to contact Congress for support of next month's vote to cut DEA funding in order to leave the medical Cannabis users alone! Us regular folks and celebrities alike!!

[ Post Comment ]
Comment #5 posted by E_Johnson on June 15, 2004 at 10:30:41 PT
OOH I have an observation here
"He cautions against smoking on the job, however, saying his comic timing is off while "high" and he does not perform under marijuana's influence. "

In his work, Rodney has to become this poor benighted guy who gets no respect. In real life, the real Rodney is very well respected. the success of his work art relies on our believing that Rodney is this other guy, this poor schlump abused by both fate and circumstance together.

All performance art is a form of controlled dissociation from your true self. I think this is why pot interferes with his work. It's really hard to ignore your actual self and your actual feelings on pot.

Which is part of how it treats post traumatic stress, which involves being separated from your true feelings.

And also I think it is part of why pot is associated so strongly with a rebellious underclass everywhere in history that we find it mentioned.

When confonted by authority, many people are able to stuff their true feelings somewhere inside and just be what the authority wants them to be.

Not the potheads heh heh heh.

See what trouble we cause?

[ Post Comment ]

Comment #4 posted by E_Johnson on June 15, 2004 at 10:18:06 PT
The NYT is follower not a leader Virgil
The NYT editorial policy is:

Print all the news that makes us look important.

Every last little thing they do is ego-driven.

That's how they got themselves so deep into the Wen Ho Lee debacle and why they ended up having to apologize for their coverage of Iraq and why Jayson Blair was able to have his way with them for so long.

It's the NYT fatal flaw -- thinking they are too important to being a newspaper of record.

They are a newspaper of GRAVITAS.

Oh now for some anti-emetic.

[ Post Comment ]

Comment #3 posted by Sam Adams on June 15, 2004 at 08:46:17 PT
How long?
before Rodney Dangerfield and Snoop Dogg appear in a movie together?

[ Post Comment ]
Comment #2 posted by Virgil on June 15, 2004 at 07:46:14 PT
The stars will come out tomorrow and it is only a
day away.

More good works for AlterNet. Someone should tell the media whoring NYT that this fit to print.

[ Post Comment ]

Comment #1 posted by FoM on June 15, 2004 at 07:42:22 PT
This is Good News
All the celebrities that have been closet cannabis consumers need to speak out. We need change, we need it now and we need them!

[ Post Comment ]

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