Hugh Hefner is no longer with us but he left us a long lasting legacy of open mindedness, which includes his impacts on the cannabis movement. In 1970, Mr. Hefner donated $5,000 to the then new NORML, to help the organization get off the ground. NORML, The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, is one of the most influential non-profit lobbying groups in Washington D.C. fighting for the legalization of cannabis.
Hugh Hefner is a controversial figure for his very progressive attitudes towards civil rights, social activism, gay rights and environmental causes, not to mention sexual openness. Many may feel that he objectified women, however cannabis advocates cannot deny that he was many decades ahead of the rest of the country in terms of his feelings towards cannabis. Did Hugh Hefner impact your life at all?
Hugh Hefner is an American media mogul that truly needs no introduction. While he’s most famous for his role in Playboy magazine (and his larger-than-life lifestyle), Hefner has a history of championing social causes and political activism. Throughout his life, he’s fought for gay rights, environmental causes, free speech and animal rights.
Of particular interest to this column is his legacy of Cannabis legalization advocacy — a cause that stretches back decades for Hefner. For starters, he was one of the founding members of NORML with a $5,000 donation back in 1970. One must assume that Cannabis was an important ingredient in the Playboy all-night parties that Hefner threw in the late 1960’s. In Patrick Anderson’s excellent book “High in America: The True Story Behind NORML and the Politics of Marijuana,” Hefner talked about his own experiences with Cannabis, saying “smoking helped put me in touch with the realm of the senses.” He went on to say that he “discovered a whole other dimension to sex.”
While his Playboy empire’s ideals of a man-first society (patriarchy) is somewhat outmoded in our modern perspective, one can still appreciate the fact that he took such a progressive stand on so many taboo issues in the past and today. Perhaps it was Cannabis that helped to open his mind a bit to the many issues facing society then and now.
Most recently, Hefner has taken a harder stand against anti-drug laws and prohibition in the United States, saying that they had “corrupted” the country. In his decades-long campaign against the criminalization of Cannabis, he’s become convinced that current legislation is “irrational.” In a recent interview with Esquire, Hefner asked, “what is the rational justification for these laws? Moral views based on what? Not on reason. These laws are truly hurtful to society.” He went on to state that “prohibition gave us organized crime. Our laws in terms of drugs not only put all kinds of people who have drug problems in prison, but in the process completely corrupt entire countries.”
Over his 90 years on the planet, Hefner has seen great change when it comes to the attitudes surrounding Cannabis, and the outlook is only getting better as time passes. Asked about his home state of California’s upcoming legalization measure on the ballot, Hefner said, “I don’t think there’s any question that marijuana should be legalized because to not legalize it, we’re paying the same price we paid for prohibition,” he told Fox News. “In other words, it is a medical concern and should be handled that way.”
Sure, Hugh Hefner isn’t a saint, but he is an American icon. Thankfully, he’s also an advocate for Cannabis, one of the many voices of authority we can count on to help mainstream acceptance of our favorite herb.