Jesse Ventura has done so much in one lifetime. He was a Navy SEAL and served in Vietnam. He was in a motorcycle gang and worked as a bodyguard for the Rolling Stones. He spent 10 years on the pro wrestling circuit, and then became a colour commentator when he retired. He got into acting and landed roles in movies, including a part in the Arnold Schwarzenegger film, Predator. In the early 90s, he went into politics, serving as mayor of Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, and then as governor of the state itself. You'd think a guy would retire happily after what he packed into a few short decades. But no, he's also a prolific writer, and earlier this month published a book on a subject near and dear to his heart: the legalization of cannabis.
Civilized founder and publisher Derek Riedle recently spoke with him by phone about Jesse Ventura's Marijuana Manifesto for one of our Civilized Conversations - regular chats with entrepreneurs, politicians and entertainers such as Leslie Bocskor, Melissa Etheridge and Steve DeAngelo. You can listen to an edited version of their chat below. Here are a few nuggets of this very interesting and lively conversation:
On why he's so passionate about the legalization of cannabis:
Cannabis alone has given me my quality of life today. I’ve been married 41 years - and [my quality of life] would be gone today. The only thing that saved it was marijuana, believe it or not. I’m talking about a more elderly epileptic seizure disorder. It isn’t me, and I won’t say anymore. The person that had it had been on four pharmaceutical drugs for seizures and none of them worked. All of them had horrible side effects - horrible. And the person went to Colorado, at the time, because in Minnesota at that time it was illegal. The person went to Colorado and through channels out there got marijuana - that was two years ago - and since then has not had a seizure. I feel at 65, I’m getting up in years now, and I have to pick out things that I want to focus on now. I can’t be all over the board...I want to see marijuana legal before I die, across the United States of America.
On why he thinks we should let people grow cannabis at home:
I grew up in the inner city of Minneapolis - South Minneapolis. I went to Roosevelt High School. And we didn’t have big backyards, but we had little backyards with grass and front lawns and all that. And every year my mom would carve up a portion, probably a third of the back yard, and she would grow tomatoes. Every year. And we would eat my mom’s tomatoes. Well, you could do the same thing with marijuana. You could throw half a dozen plants in your backyard and grow them for your own private consumption if you desired to, and if it was legal.
On how cannabis can make you a happier person:
Tommy Chong - who I dedicated the book to - says there should be no distinction between medical marijuana and recreational marijuana because the whole plant is medical. For those who smoke it for the euphoric feeling, that’s mental health. It makes them feel better, gets them through the day. It’s no different than a cup of coffee. Life is tough, and you know, if people want to smoke pot to get through life or to enjoy life and have a smile [let them do it]...Generally pot smokers are pretty happy. What’s the matter with being happy?