The fight to end marijuana prohibition in California just got some reinforcements from the entertainment industry. Here are 10 celebrities who have endorsed California's Proposition 64 - a 2016 ballot initiative that would legalize recreational marijuana use in the Golden State.
1. Danny Glover
“This November, there are many important reasons why we should go to the polls. In California, the question on whether to legalize marijuana for adult use is a policy change that will have a lasting impact on historically marginalized communities. Marijuana laws have been used as a tool by law enforcement to racially profile, harass, intimidate and criminalize mostly young African American and Latino men for decades. Ending the arrest and conviction of adults who use and sell marijuana is a social justice issue and simply a smart, sensible and practical policy solution for the mass arrests in and the over surveillance of racially targeted communities.
"Prop. 64 creates a safe, legal system for use of marijuana. Legalization is about reducing harm by expunging the records of those arrested for possession or sale of small amounts of marijuana, offering drug counseling and treatment, investing revenues in repairing communities damaged by a flawed policy and safeguarding poor and vulnerable communities from over-surveillance and criminalization.
"If we truly care about radically reducing the number of people in our jails and prisons for nonviolent recreational use of marijuana; the consequential destabilization to families and communities; and, the crisis of prisoner re-entry into over-policed and economically neglected communities – Prop 64 is an opportunity to send a strong public policy message. Please vote YES on Prop. 64.”
2. Jay Z
In September, Jay Z spoke out against marijuana prohibition by writing and narrating a video history of the War on Drugs that highlighted his own experience growing up in New York during President Ronald Reagan's crusade against street dealers.
Back in 2010, the British rocker criticized America's draconian drug laws by penning a blog for the Huffington Post titled Let's End the War on Drugs.
“The War on Drugs has failed - but it's worse than that," he wrote. "It is actively harming our society. Violent crime is thriving in the shadows to which the drug trade has been consigned. People who genuinely need help can't get it...We are spending billions, filling up our prisons with non-violent offenders and sacrificing our liberties...Literally hundreds of billions of dollars - dollars denied to urgent problems ranging from poverty to pollution - have been spent."
4. Sarah Silverman
Not all Prop 64 supporters have a sociopolitical agenda. Celebrities like Sarah Silverman are casual cannabis consumers who don't think marijuana should be illegal. Here she is telling Conan O'Brien about getting high with her parents.
5. Melissa Etheridge
Rocker Melissa Etheridge supports Prop 64 as both a recreational toker and a medical marijuana patient. She became an advocate to encourage other people to come out of the "cannabis closet."
"I tell a lot of people it's actually like the LGBTQ movement. There are a lot of closet cannabis users," Etheridge told Civilized. "We need to come out of the closet. We need to show people that we are functional people. That it's not a stereotype. We're not potheads that are smoking and dropping out of society. That's not what it is at all. We're using it to cope with our society. We want to get it in, play the game, live our life and have fun. And we find great relief, just at the end of the day, this is my chance to unwind."
6. Harry Belafonte
The celebrated calypso singer is no stranger to activism. In 2013, he signed onto an open letter urging President Barack Obama to reform America's policy on cannabis and other drugs.
"Countless numbers of children have been waiting decades for their parents to come home, and America is made safer if we break the cycle of mass incarceration," the letter said. "Time is of the essence, for with each passing year that we allow injustice to prevail, our nation loses another piece of its soul. We must carefully examine the impact of the War on Drugs and the millions of living, breathing Americans who’ve been affected. It is, quite simply, the right thing to do.”
7. Russell Simmons
In 2013, the music mogul and television producer called for an end to the War on Drugs by opening up about his own drug experience.
"I've seen the suffering first-hand and I've been involved in the suffering too," he told The Guardian. "I used every drug there is, back in the day, but it didn't make me a bad person: it just made me a sad person, a diseased person. It didn't make me a criminal.
8. Shailene Woodley
Last summer, the The Fault in Our Stars actor spoke out against the injustice of marijuana prohibition via Twitter. (She also spoke out in defense of Hillary Clinton at the same time.)
9. Michael K. Williams
“Arresting people, or ruining people's lives for a small, nonviolent charge, like marijuana, drug addiction, or mental illness, is not the way to go," he told The New Yorker. "Those are health issues, not criminal issues. It's the grace of God that I wasn't imprisoned for my antics growing up.”
10. Ricky Williams
Last summer, the former Heisman Trophy winner and current medical marijuana patient told Sports Illustrated that he wants to make cannabis advocacy part of his legacy as an athlete.
"I remember when I was a kid and I thought about being a professional athlete, what I was inspired by most - by guys like Jim Brown, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Muhammad Ali - they were great athletes. But they also stood for something. And there's finally something to stand for that I believe in, so I'm excited about it."
Banner image: Charlie Nguyen / Flickr.com