By Ed Murrieta
SACRAMENTO — The California Hall of Fame honors people who have made distinguished achievements in the arts, education, business, labor, science, sports, philanthropy and public service in the Golden State.
Since its creation in 2006, the California Hall of Fame has quietly proven that cannabis is no barrier to success.
Eight people, including three well-known cannabis users, will be inducted Oct. 28 in an official state ceremony at the California Museum in downtown Sacramento.
Of nearly 100 inductees in the past nine years, here are the California Hall of Fame’s top 10 potheads:
ROBERT DOWNEY JR., Actor, 2105 inductee
The actor might be called the living embodiment of the Gateway Drug Theory — if only the druggy gates of Downey’s Hollywood childhood weren’t totally unhinged from the start. Downey’s debauched dad gave him his first joint at age 8. Later, Downey snorted coke with actor Jack Nicholson, smoked crack and heroin and served prison time. He’s kicked coke, crack and smack but still smokes pot. In 2010, he told Rolling Stone he’s against legalizing any drug, pot, which he called “the biggest ambition crusher of them all.”
DAVID HOCKNEY, Painter, 2015 inductee
The 77-year-old Englishman told British media last year that while he rarely leaves his Los Angeles home because of his deafness, he does go out to visit “the doctors, the bookshop and the marijuana store.” A cannabis smoker for much of his life, Hockney said he uses the “harmless and pleasant plant” for medical reasons. “And it’s very nice actually. I don’t smoke much, but sometimes of an evening, because I don’t have alcohol any more, a bit of marijuana’s nice.” Hockney has long called for cannabis legalization in the UK.
BRUCE LEE, Martial arts actor, 2015 inductee
Contrary to conspiracy theories, the Hong Kong-born hash-eater did not die from cannabis consumption at age 32 in 1973. Lee’s cause of death was determined to be cerebral edema caused by the prescription headache medication Equagesic. Lee ate hash to ease the aches and pains of his martial arts training. In a rebuke to the Los Angeles Times’ assertion of Lee’s addiction, his widow wrote, “a renowned pathologist testifying at the inquest stated that the small amount of cannabis found in Bruce’s stomach had no more effect on the cause of death than if he had ‘taken a cup of tea’ shortly before he died.”
KAREEM ABDUL-JABBAR, Basketball player, 2014 inductee
The NBA legend first smoked pot at 17, an event he called “one of my first major individual decisions.” “I’ve certainly smoked more than my quota of weed,” he wrote in his 1983 autobiography, “Giant Steps.” “For a while there at UCLA I didn’t want to hang out with anyone who didn’t smoke reefer.” He smoked cannabis throughout his 20-year basketball and afterward, using it, he says, to alleviate migraines and control nausea induced by the headaches. He was arrested in Toronto’s Pearson International Airport in 1998 while carrying 6 grams. In 2000, he was arrested in the San Fernando Valley on suspicion of driving under the influence of pot. He supports legalization.
DR. DRE, Music producer/Headphones marketer, 2014 inductee
The hip-hop-performer-producer-turned-Apple-headphones-vice-president is cagey about cannabis, claiming he doesn’t blaze it up “’cause it’s known to give a brother brain damage.” Whatever. Dr. Dre gave the world four of the weediest words in pot culture’s lexicon: The Chronic and Snoop Dogg. #SmokeWeedEveryday
THE BEACH BOYS, pop music band, 2012 inductees
The Beach Boys’ main man, Brian Wilson, wrote many of the band’s greatest hits while high. In 1965, “God Only Knows” came to him as he smoked pot while listening to “Rubber Soul,” the Beatles’ “pot album.” Later, while preparing to write and record “Smile” — a psychedelic project that was aborted due to Wilson’s emotional and substance problems — Wilson purchased a couple thousand dollars’ worth of pot and hash. He had a hot-box tent installed in his house. A recovering addict of several substances, Wilson supports cannabis legalization “if people do it in moderation.”
CARLOS SANTANA, Guitar god, 2012 inductee
In 1991, the Mexican-born guitarist was busted with 5 grams of his native-country weed at an airport in Houston. Santana said he was carrying “a joint the size of a toothpick.” In 2009, Santana made an impassioned plea to President Obama: “Bring the brothers home and the sisters home [from war] now, legalize marijuana, and take all that money and invest it in teachers and education. And you will see a transformation of America.
MERLE HAGGARD, Musician, 2011 inductee
The man who wrote and sang country music’s most famous anti-pot anthem has changed his tune. “At the time I wrote ‘Okie From Muskogee,’ I didn’t smoke,” Haggard said recently. “It was ’68. I thought it was responsible for the flower children walking around with their mouths open. It was not so. But if a guy doesn’t learn anything in 50 years, there’s something wrong with him.” Haggard converted to cannabis when his doctor recommended it in lieu of his Valium habit. He favors legalization as way to save America’s economy. Earlier this year, Haggard teamed with legendary country music pothead Willie Nelson to make a pro-pot song and video, “It’s All Going to Pot.”
HARVEY MILK, Politician/Gay rights icon, 2010 inductee
The openly gay, totally liberal San Francisco supervisor who was slain by a right-wing homophobe was a close friend of legendary pot dealer/entrepreneur Dennis Peron and supported legalization. With Milk’s support in 1978, San Francisco voters overwhelmingly approved Proposition W, a nonbinding policy statement that “demand[ed] that the District attorney, along with the Chief of Police, cease the arrest and prosecution of individuals involved in the cultivation, transfer, or possession of marijuana.” “They can’t bust us all,” Milk said. But Proposition W’s will wasn’t to be. After the murder of Milk and Mayor George Moscone, misdemeanor marijuana arrests nearly tripled under drug-hawk Mayor Dianne Feinstein.
JANE FONDA, Actress/Activist, 2009 inductee
Branded “Hollywood’s Wildest Pot Smoking Rebel” by Uncensored Tabloid Magazine in 1970, a year before her toking-hot turn as a high-class hooker in “Klute,” Fonda still fires up at age 77. She was spotted by the National Enquirer smoking a joint with her brother, Peter Fonda, at the 2001 Vanity Fair Oscar party. Earlier this year, she told a French magazine DuJour , “I’ll smoke pot every now and then.” But within limits. “I cannot see a movie on pot,” she said. “The number of movies I’ve seen thinking, ‘This is probably the best I have ever seen,’ and then I’ll see it again sober and think, ‘What was I thinking?’”
CALIFORNIA HALL OF FAME HAPPENINGS
2015 inductees will be honored Oct. 28 with a Spirit of California medal presented by Gov. Jerry Brown. Their accomplishments will be made permanent record in the California State Archives.
An exhibit running Oct. 29 through Aug. 28 at the California Museum will display artifacts and ephemera on loan from the inductees’ personal collections.
Don’t expect to see Bruce Lee’s hash box.
Citizens can nominate future inductees. Do you know any famous and worthy cannabis advocates who meet these criteria?
- Lived in California for a minimum of 5 years
- Transcend the boundaries of his or her field to make a lasting, significant contribution to the state, nation and world
- Embody the spirit of California and the California Dream
- Motivate and inspire people to further their own dreams through his or her unique story and accomplishment
Maybe we’ll see Dennis Peron, Ed Rosenthal, Steve DeAngelo, George Zimmer and Snoop Dogg at the 2016 California Hall of Fame gala.