Former President George H.W. Bush - who turns 93 today - was one of the biggest proponents of the War on Drugs back in the 1980s and 90s. Which is ironic since he owes his life to marijuana's non-psychoactive cousin - hemp.
During World War II, young George Bush was a pilot running bombing missions against Japan. Back then, he was known as 'Skin' by his fellow airmen, who gave him that nickname on account of his lanky physique. And he survived by the skin of his teeth during a raid on the island of Chichi Jima in September 1944. After taking heavy fire, the engine of Bush's plane caught fire. But he managed to finish his run before ditching the doomed aircraft.
He would have gone down with the plane if it hadn't been for the hemp parachute that helped him land safely away from the wreck - as well as the hostile troops pursuing him. Bush managed to avoid capture by landing in the sea, but other airmen who were shot down in the raid weren't so lucky. Four of them were captured, tortured, brutally executed and then eaten by Japanese soldiers.
Bush had a hemp parachute because President Franklin Delano Roosevelt had signed an executive order allowing farmers to grow industrial hemp for the war effort. But when the war was over, the American government re-criminalized the crop even though it had saved the lives of numerous soldiers. Hemp prohibition stayed in effect in all 50 states from the end of the war, through Bush senior's administration and into 1999, when North Dakota became the first state to legalize hemp.