10 Really Successful Pot Smokers

These folks challenge the stereotype of marijuana users as lazy, unmotivated slackers.


A few weeks ago, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said that there is no "responsible way to recreationally use marijuana."

Rubio's statement isn't wrong because it's unpopular. Plenty of people on every part of the political spectrum believe what he believes. It's wrong because it is flatly contradicted by millions of people who use pot both recreationally and responsibly. In this sense, marijuana is absolutely no different than intoxicants such as beer, wine, and alcohol.

Now that pot is fully legal in Colorado and Washington and a growing majority of Americans agree that marijuana should be treated similar to alcohol, it's more important than ever to drive home the fact that responsible drug use is not a myth but a lived reality for many successful people.

Here's a list of 10 really successful people who have admitted to using pot.

Hat tip: Marijuana Policy Project's "Top 50 Most Influentical Marijuana Users." 

10. Gov. Sarah Palin. "I can't claim a Bill Clinton and say I never inhaled," the self-styled Mama Grizzly told The Anchorage Daily News in 2006. The iconic conservative didn't deny the statement when she ran for vice president on the Republican ticket in 2008. She doesn't support legalization—like Marco Rubio, she thinks that sends a bad message to society—but there's no reason to believe she thinks she and other users should go to jail.

9. Andrew Sullivan. Whatever you think of the controversial and trailblazing "blogfather," journalist Andrew Sullivan is an unabashed weed smoker who defies every slacker-pot-smoker stereotype imaginable. An incredibly hard worker who helmed The New Republic for years and now runs his own website, Sullivan was busted for possession in 2009 while vacationing at Cape Cod (the charges were dropped). Check out The Cannabis Closet, the collection of first-person accounts of responsible marijuana use that he edited in 2010.

8. Phil Jackson. One of the greatest figures in NBA history, Phil Jackson won 11 championships as a coach and two as a player. He almost never got a shot at coaching, though, because he readily admitted to smoking dope during his playing days. Though it's recognized as ubiquitous in today's NBA, 40 years ago, pot smoking was officially frowned upon. "In 1975," reports Salon,

he wrote Maverick, a memoir about his days playing in the NBA. Among other things, Jackson spoke frankly about marijuana use and experimentation with LSD. It was a critical success, but the book cemented a loose-cannon reputation that would alienate him from the NBA establishment for years.

7. Rick Steves. The beloved travel writer and PBS host is the go-to guy for information on authentic European getaways. He's also a longtime supporter and regular user of marijuana. "I'm a hardworking, tax-paying, kid-raising, church-going citizen of this country," Steves told Reason TV in 2011 (watch below). "And if I work hard all day long and want to go home and relax with a joint, that is my civil liberty."

6. Martha Stewart. In 2009, the felonious homemaker extraordinaire (who never should have been prosecuted in the first place) rapped about pot brownies on-air with none other than Snoop Dogg:

Snoop: "Trying to make some brownies, but we're missing the most important part of the brownies."
Martha: "Which is, which is, which is …"
Snoop: "No sticks no seeds no stems."
Martha: "You want green brownies."
Snoop: "Yes."
Martha: "He wants green brownies. Brownish green brownies."
Snoop: "The greener the better!"

Last year, during an appearance at New York's 92nd Street Y, she told the audience, "Of course I know how to roll a joint."

To view this article as a single page, click here.

Library of Congress

5. Margaret Mead. While it's unclear whether the legendary anthropologist was a regular user per se, she testified before Congress in 1969 that regular marijuana use was "not nearly as bad" as tobacco or alcohol. Discussing her study of pot's use in various societies, she said that people around the world "smoke to keep working and then they smoke to relax, and all of these things fall under this general question of whether that man has any right to use natural or distilled or pharmaceutically produced aids to permit him to live the kind of life that he wants to live, and in most cases we find this combines work and relaxation or religion, work and relaxation."

In the wake of her testimony, Mead was pilloried by many, including the increasingly reactionary Al Capp in his Li'l Abner comic strip as "the lady anthropologist" who "explained how harmless heroin is for children."

4. Michael Phelps. When the unparalleled swimming champion got caught smoking pot in 2009, two things were immediately clear. First, Phelps knew his way around a bong. Second, he was going to distance himself from his actions to preserve his prospects as a pitchman for various products and services.

"I've never made the same mistake twice," Phelps told Details in 2012 while discussing the flap concerning his pot use. You don't have to parse his language very much to realize he thinks the mistake was in getting photographed, not necessarily in using pot.

3. Megan Fox. The actress, married mother of two and multiple Teen Choice Award winner maintains a busy work schedule. She's also outspoken about marijuana use, saying in 2009,

 America's war on drugs is propaganda… I can't tell you how much bullshit I've been through because I will openly say that I smoke weed. People look at it like it's this crazy, hippy, fucked-up thing to do. And it's not! I hope they legalize it and when they do I'll be the first fucking person in line to buy my pack of joints.

To view this article as a single page, click here.

2. Gary Johnson. Back in 2001, when he was still governor of New Mexico, Gary Johnson told Reason that he had quit "being a chronic marijuana smoker" when it started to interfere with his youthful goal of being a professional skier. The tee-totaling Johnson, the most successful Libertarian Party presidential candidate in over 30 years, is a staunch proponent of legalization and, as important, of recognizing the reality of responsible pot use.

From that 2001 interview:

Reason: You've obviously been a big success. How about your buddies that you smoked pot with in high school and college? Have most of them been successful?

Johnson: Yes.

Reason: Gone on to sort of normal lives.…

Johnson: Every one of 'em.

Johnson is currently heading up the Our America Initiative, which seeks to "redefine the liberty movement in America." For more information, go here.

1. Paul McCartney. If there's one person who defies all pot-related stereotypes, it's Paul McCartney, the most successful songwriter in human history.

Legend has it that Bob Dylan turned the Beatles on to pot in 1964 and Paul was by his own account a regular user through 2012. McCartney told Rolling Stone that as a 69-year-old father of a young child, it was time to call it quits. "I did a lot, and it was enough," he said, adding that cannabis was "such good stuff."

During his 48-year run as a pot smoker, McCartney was a hugely productive member of The Beatles and Wings and enjoyed an incredible solo career. He developed a reputation as a good guy, a dedicated husband, and a responsible business partner. He had repeated run-ins with the law regarding pot, even being deported from Japan in 1980 for carrying the stuff.

Would he have written such songs as "Yesterday," "Hey, Jude," "Let It Be," and "Maybe I'm Amazed" and recorded dozens of albums if he hadn't smoked pot on a regular basis? Perhaps, but the point is that he did smoke pot while creating one of the richest musical legacies of all time.

That's certainly not an argument to use marijuana, but it is a fairly definitive rebuttal to claims that there is no "responsible way to recreationally use marijuana."

If you need more convincing, the essential text on responsible drug use is Saying Yes: In Defense of Drug Use, by Reason's own Jacob Sullum.

NEXT: Brazil Prepares for World Cup by Seizing Homes, Chasing Vendors Away; Protesters Respond With a World Cup of Their Own

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. There’s a significant difference between people who have tried pot at some point in their lives, which is probably the majority of American adults, and those that use it regularly, a much smaller number. I find a pretty reliable inverse correlation between success and regular pot use among people I’ve known. I’m an ameteur rock music enthusiast, so I’ve been around a lot of pot smokers. Smoking anything is terrible for your health. Pot is typically smoked where you hold it in your lungs for as long as you can stand; even worse than how tobacco is typically smoked. And regular pot uses degrades brain functions. I don’t mind seeing it legalized, but I’d also like it to be just as culturally shunned as tobacco is nowadays.

    1. Personal experience along with a study I read once show that not holding it in for a long time, but rather exhaling right away gets you the same high with less lung damage.

    2. Maybe the inverse correlation you witnessed had more to do with hanging around a bunch of amateur rockers than with the pot they work smoking? Correlation does not imply causation. Pot doesn’t make people lazy – lazy people like pot. Amateur rockers who don’t achieve great success like pot – the pot doesn’t make them unsuccessful. I see the exact opposite as you. I’m successful. My friends are successful. We smoke pot.

    3. Correlation isn’t causation, and to loosely imply that it is pretty irresponsible.

      I had my PHD in Applied Mathematics by the age of 25, published over 50 academic papers, changed careers and am now a software engineering manager, and I smoke pot at least 6 days a week. Granted, one data point is no more meaningful than confusing correlation for causation, but you sound like someone from the 1920s implying that a “regular wine drinker” is very unlikely to be a “success”.

      Yeah, there’s a difference between someone who has tried it once and someone who “uses it regularly”; but the bigger difference is between someone who uses it regularly and someone that *abuses* it. I know shittons of people that drink wine, and I know a couple of lousy stinking drunks, and the two have nothing to do with each other.

      Tobacco is not “culturally shunned”; it is socially engineered *by the state*. Most people don’t give a shit; a vocal minority have used the violence of the State to impose their preferences on everyone else.

      And don’t even start with me on the bullshit about “regular pot use degrades brain function”: again, you’re making no distinction between use and abuse. As one of the other posters here mentioned, Carl Sagan is an example of one of many extremely intelligent and creative people who use – use, not abuse – pot to help them with their brain function, in particular, creativity and outside-the-box thinking.

      1. If pot makes you dumber you are abusing it. If it makes you smarter you are using it. The FBI is looking for some smart pot smokers.

        1. If it makes you smarter you are using it.

          *I wholly admit that weed is not my drug of choice and others should be free to choose differently.*

          But I wish this crippled mindset would die. If we were talking about alcohol and someone said, “I work so much better when I’ve had a little to take the edge off.” Any question of defining their habit wavers between certainly abusing and probably abusing.

          There are plenty of Paul Erd?ses, Cary Mullises, and E. A. Poes who couldn’t function without their drug of choice. Ascribing their achievements to their substance abuse (like some of them did) is a discredit to their work and the work of their colleagues.

          On top of that, it’s as disingenuous as ascribing a basketball player’s ability to play on the shoes they wear or Michael Phelps ability to win on the suit he’s wearing.

          And I don’t care who the FBI is looking to employ, if they can’t go one full car ride with an FBI agent without needing to light up (or jerk off, eat a twinkie, w/e) they aren’t very smart. Talented, maybe, smart, no.

          1. if they can’t go one full car ride with an FBI agent without needing to light up

            What if they just don’t want to.

            1. You either need to, and have a problem, or want to. Needing it that bad is pretty stupid.

              If you just want to, you’re either ignorant of the FBI’s stance against, which is pretty stupid, it or are just being a dick to the FBI which, again, is stupid.

              I guess I’m one of those weirdos that doesn’t equate (im)morality and intelligence.

    4. I am a professional and therefore tend to hang out with other professionals. Probably a third of us smoke weed regularly. That includes: business owners, doctors, a nurse practitioner, several lawyers, an economist, a think tank policy guy, an engineer, a couple of accountants and then a few musicians and artists. Then I have met many, many more successful professionals that smoke pot at weddings or other gatherings. Its not at all uncommon. Sure it can be abused just as alcohol can, but used in moderation it appears to be a relatively harmless inebriant.

    5. You speak for yourself.

      I’ve used pot for 45 years myself and am considered quite successful and a leader in my field.

      I wouldn’t say “regular pot use degrades brain function” any more than, and perhaps less so, than regular sugar consuption.

  2. You forgot the greatest pot head of all time – Carl Sagan. He attributed many of his insights to letting his mind wander after smoking pot.

  3. So what. Hemingway drank, Dorothy Parker popped pills, HST did God only knows what, etc. Like most libertarians, upper and lower case, I don’t really care what people drink, snort, smoke, swallow, or inject into their bodies unless doing so directly and negatively impacts my life and property. But I also don’t think I’m the first to point out that anti-statists making marijuana legalization their seemingly central issue is cutting of our noses to spite our faces. This country isn’t going to go to hell in a hand basket economically if people can’t light up with impunity. But rarely do I hear or read libertarians voicing similar outrage over, say, Obummercare, one of the most insidious laws ever to be foisted on our citizenry. And while I’m a long-time Gary Johnson supporter, his team needs to quit bombarding my in-box with virtual fist pumping victory laps about which state is now going to allow 4:30-ers to foist their fuck-yeahs on me with the regularity of beer drinking frat boys. Or I’m going to start drunk dialing him.

    1. Ah. But attacking a weak point – pot prohibition in this instance – is sound military doctrine.

    2. But rarely do I hear or read libertarians voicing similar outrage over, say, Obummercare, one of the most insidious laws ever to be foisted on our citizenry.

      Does Obummercare put nonviolent people in prison?

      Is Obummercare used to justify the police using military tactics against nonviolent people?

      Does Obummercare give opportunity for organized crime to make money hand over fist, and kill for the privilege?

      I think the drug war is much worse for society than Obummercare.

      1. I believe Obamacare is worse for society than the drug war. It affects everyone, to the tune of thousands of dollars in additional expense for no additional benefits.

        The drug war certainly harms many people, and more so than Obamacare does, for a single arrest is likely to cost you more than Obamacare costs for several years, and that doesn’t include the other effects such as going to jail, and the loss of future income as employers avoid hiring someone with a criminal drug using record.

        Unlike RenaD, I think fighting for freedom on all fronts is important. The price of liberty, is eternally fighting those who’d like to use government to oppress your “offensive” behavior.

        And the first guy who says people should be locked up for “offensive” behavior that harms no one except perhas those engaging in it, I’ll point out that his position is offensive to me, and he should lock himself up until I’m no longer offeneded by his position.

    3. But rarely do I hear or read libertarians voicing similar outrage over, say, Obummercare, one of the most insidious laws ever to be foisted on our citizenry.


  4. “which state is now going to allow 4:30-ers ”

    It’s 4:20, not 4:30, which kind of hints that you don’t know as much about this as you want us to infer that you do.

    1. Golly gee, did the fact that I mistyped the equivalent of the pot smoker’s secret handshake just get me branded as a square? 4:20, 4:30, whatever. Go back and read my comment. Nowhere do I offer an opinion on what pot does or does not do to the brain or the body, or whether or not those effects are relevant to the argument against prohibition. Again: I don’t CARE what anyone smokes or drinks, and I think pot’s prohibition is ridiculous. But equally ridiculous is that it’s become the libertarians’ central issue when we have bigger political fish to fry. If anything about this article specifically rankles, though, it’s the assumption that just because some successful people smoke pot, that must mean the drug is harmless and therefore should be prohibited. Nope. It’s still a drug, which means everyone is going to respond differently to it. The way to fight prohibition is not to convince the “squares” that pot is benign; the way to fight it is to convince them that it doesn’t MATTER.

      1. it’s become the libertarians’ central issue

        How do you figure? I don’t see any “central issue” to libertarians other than the State is too big. Victimless “vice” incarceration, including weed, is a big part of that. Seems like you’re having trouble seeing the forest (the State is too big and too intrusive) for the trees (ZOMGZ! Pot!!)

    2. I assumed he meant that some potheads are so lazy that they end up smoking their pot ten minutes behind schedule.

      1. At least they’ve now managed to get out and vote for legalization legislation on the proper day!

  5. “. . . that must mean the drug is harmless and therefore should NOT be prohibited.” (not only am I a square, I can’t proofread.)

  6. What about Barry?

  7. On the other hand, only someone who has irreversibly baked their brain, and/or Shikha Dalmia, would recycle a 2-weeks-old thread.

      1. I’ve got to use my special getting high powers one more time.

  8. I have never heard of half of those successful people.

    1. And some of those I’ve heard of I don’t have any respect for.

  9. Matthew McConaughey?…..70×503.jpg

  10. *Sigh* Hassan-i Sabbah never makes it onto these lists. I call having a fanatical death clan devoted to you fairly successful.

  11. Carl Sagan was a massive stoner.

  12. I was excited to open this article when I saw the headline, but was greatly disappointed by the examples you chose to include, and who you chose to exclude. In my opinion, the article lost a lot of credibility by including actors and musicians, especially Megan Fox (please, her only success is looking hot and even that is debatable). I was expecting to see actual successful people such as Sir Richard Branson, Steve Jobs, Mark Cuban. Entrepreneurs and business people that have built huge empires. I have no evidence that the 3 I listed regularly use, but they are very outspoken on legalization, I have more than a suspicion that they do. And as a fan of Gary Johnson, I am fairly positive that he does not use regularly. He competes in Ironman triathalons and has stated that he only used marijuana medically while recovering from an injury (mountain climbing, I believe). Would have enjoyed a more thought out, thorough list.

    1. Thanks for stealing my thunder. You even had the same examples I was thinking of. Megan Fox is (or at least was) a train wreck.

      If you had to stuff a politician in your list, why not pick the sitting President. He not only admits to using pot, he copped to using cocaine as well. This pile of B, C and D list names is not a compelling argument. McCartney excepted, of course.

      1. McCartney excepted, of course.

        Not to mention, putting a rock star at the top of the ‘Most Successful Pot Smokers’ simplistic, self-serving, short-sighted, sensationalist…

        For every pot smoking guitarist like Paul McCartney there’s a mountain of Amy Winehouses, Dimebag Darrels, Kurt Cobains, Jimmy Hendrixes, Randy Rhoads, Paul Grays… and having a rock star on the list is like having a basketball player at the top of a list of successful tall people.

        Marginally better than the Taboola ads Reason serves up anyway.

        1. Dimebag Darrel was murdered by a maniac. Not drug induced self destruction. And all of those other people were still successful in a getting off the dole and out of there moms basement level, which is all anyone else should care about.

          It still took enormous hard work, constant travel, punctuality, drive for even the famous drugged out train wrecks to get to the point where they could implode.

          Its a bit short sighted and churlish, but I’ve always respected Phil Lynotts stance that heavy drug use was like mountain climbing, some people fall off and die. Do you claim their whole life was a tragedy because of their chosen lifestyle? (He technically died of pneumonia, btw. Which was most likely exacerbated by his hedonism but I kind of lean towards the never brought up fact that the socialized medicine over there may have contributed to the actual death. He lingered for a week in a British hospital)

          1. heavy drug use was like mountain climbing, some people fall off and die.

            Except Reason wouldn’t publish an article ’10 Really Successful Mountain Climbers’. And if they did, putting a world-famous professional hunter or outdoorsman at the No. 1 spot would still be cheap to insulting.

  13. Oh, god.

    Nick…. or, ‘Dear Editor’…

    please be aware that the photo of Phil Jackson in front of the Knicks logo, as part of his recent deal to take over as president and part-owner of the team, causes severe anxiety, anger, and bowel dysfunction for many legacy fans, who have trouble squaring the man’s personality deficit, the taint of ‘lakers’ all over him, and his disgusting combination of “Ex-hippy turned management-guru and billionaire superstar piggy-back-artist” qualities that directly clash with everything NYC love(d) about its basketball team. Until he’s had a few losing seasons under his belt, please stick to stock photos of him in his glory days.

  14. Yeah, I’d rather see this list populated by scientists, doctors, litigators, and entrepreneurs (to name a few) than actors and musicians.

  15. There are people that can smoke all day everyday and function perfectly fine in what ever they do. Particularly if the strains are more Sativa than indica. Seen it plenty of times.

    I am not one of those. For the most I can only play video games, eat children’s breakfast cereal, and go lay down. But if it’s my day off, what’s it to you?

  16. How to buy drugs (and other) online with bitcoin:

    1. Download Tor Browser from

    2. Register at a Darknet Marketplace using Tor (invite only):
    Agora: http://agorahooawayyfoe.onion/register/mhwyZ5cSXR
    Abraxas: http://abraxasdegupusel.onion/register/PW8CRP5MUC

    3. Enjoy it!

  17. How about Bill Maher!

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.