The inaugural Civilized Cannabis Culture Poll - an online survey of more than 1,000 Americans conducted by Environics Research Group - found that nearly half (44 percent) of Americans support legalizing marijuana for recreational as well as medical use. But if you really want to appreciate changing attitudes, it's best to put some faces to those numbers.
Here are five surprising members of the Marijuana Majority, a website - founded by longtime activist Tom Angell - that profiles celebrities, politicians and other public figures who have expressed support for reforming marijuana laws.
1. Bill Gates
When Washington state voted to legalize recreational marijuana use through a ballot question in 2012, Bill Gates was one of many residents who voted "yes" for legal cannabis. "[Drug traffickers] are going to make a lot less money, and some of the perverse things about the illegal drug trade will be avoided" through legalization, the Microsoft co-founder told BuzzFeed News.
2. John McCain
When the Department of Justice decided not to interfere with states legalizing recreational marijuana use in 2013, Texas Senator Ted Cruz and other Republican Party stalwarts criticized the Obama Administration for allowing citizens to break the law. But Arizona Senator (and 2008 Republican presidential nominee) John McCain wasn't among them. Tim Steller, a reporter for the Arizona Daily Star, said that McCain gave an unexpected comment on the issue at a town-hall meeting in Tucson:
McCain: "Maybe we should legalize. We're certainly moving that way as far as marijuana is concerned. I respect the will of the people"— Tim Steller (@senyorreporter) September 5, 2013
Since then, Cruz and many other Republicans have joined the movement to assert the right of states to reform marijuana laws.
3. Ted Nugent
If there's one thing rocker Ted Nugent hates more than Obamacare and gun-control laws, it's hippies. But his loathing of flower power doesn't extend to medical marijuana. In a guest post published by The Daily Caller in February 2015, the Stranglehold singer wrote:
"Unlike Obamacare which will ultimately destroy our healthcare...data continues to pile up that medical marijuana can truly help some people, some of the time to relieve various pain and nausea, reduce the number and severity of seizures, and can alleviate the painful and harmful side effects of some authorized drugs and medical treatments that save people's lives."
He also revealed that people have lobbied him to support marijuana for decades. "Due to my decades-old militant stand against legalizing recreational Cheech and Chong ganja, literally thousands of people have approached me over the years urging me to support the legalization of medical marijuana. No urging required. I've always supported medical marijuana, especially for people with terminal diseases where marijuana may help to alleviate pain and suffering."
4. Molly Ringwald
Flickr / WBUR
As Claire Standish - the stuck-up teen from "The Breakfast Club" (1985) - Molly Ringwald sneered at John Bender (Judd Nelson) for smoking cannabis. "Only burners like you get high," she said before later sharing a joint with him and the rest of her detention-mates.
But the 80s icon doesn't share Claire's moralism. In a column for The Guardian published in May 2015, Ringwald wrote, "personally I don't believe it should be [illegal], or will be for much longer. I don't see much of a difference between using alcohol or cannabis, except that the former seems to incite a lot more violence."
5. Quincy Jones
The legendary music producer told The Guardian in 2014 that he supports cannabis legalization - and he was speaking from personal experience. "I think marijuana should be legalised. I've been through all of that, where you have to be secretive and don't want your parents to know."
So did he ever smoke Mary Jane while working with Michael Jackson in the studio? "No way. Never. Never, never, never. That's where you step over the line, brother. No, no, no. Not even close. Not even alcohol. No way. Not the way we work, man."
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