Written By Daniel Cina
Cannabis has been a part of human history for thousands of years, but as you all know we are only now reaching a point in time where cannabis is being viewed less and less as a harmful narcotic and seen for what it is. A simple yet amazing plant that is capable of bringing joy to and experiences to many people.
One of the driving factors of this is the public perception thanks to cannabis icons who have helped drive cannabis further towards social acceptance. So today I’d like to take the time to showcase 12 of the most influential cannabis icons in history!
Top 12 Cannabis Icons
Who else could we kick off this list of legends without the man himself. Bob Marley is perhaps the most iconic figure in the world of cannabis. He was a Jamaican singer and songwriter who popularized the Rastafarian movement, which heavily incorporates the use of cannabis in its religious and spiritual practices. Marley’s music and message of peace, love, and unity helped to de-stigmatize cannabis and bring it into mainstream culture. Today his spirit can be encapsulated by Marley Naturals, the cannabis brand managed by his estate.
Cheech and Chong
Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong are a comedy duo and lifelong friends who rose to fame in the 1970s and 1980s with their hilarious stoner-themed skits and movies. They helped to popularize the use of cannabis in comedy and entertainment, and their iconic characters and catchphrases are still recognized and loved by fans today. These two cannabis icons exemplify best buds and Tommy Chong now runs his own hemp brand, Tommy Chong’s Hemp!
Willie Nelson is a country music legend who has been open about his use of cannabis for decades. He has been a vocal advocate for cannabis legalization and has even launched his own brand of cannabis products. Nelson’s laid-back and rebellious image has helped to normalize cannabis use among older generations and in more conservative communities. Like many cannabis icons on this list, Willie Nelson keeps his cannabis roots going with his own brand called Willie’s Reserve.
Mary Jane Rathbun, a.k.a. Brownie Mary – Brownie Mary was a prominent advocate for medical marijuana in San Francisco during the AIDS crisis of the 1980s. She baked and distributed cannabis-infused brownies to AIDS patients, earning her the nickname “Brownie Mary” and becoming a symbol of compassionate care for those suffering from chronic illness. The result of this was brownie edibles being pushed further into the mainstream of cannabis. Her famous work has forever immortalized her name with cannabis. After all who doesn’t love smoking on some Mary Jane!
Snoop Dogg is a rapper and media personality who has been a vocal advocate for cannabis throughout his career. He has been open about his use of cannabis and has even launched his own brand of cannabis products. Snoop’s influence in the music industry and his larger-than-life persona have helped to make cannabis more mainstream and acceptable among young people. His amazing personality and attitude cannabis is especially accentuated when he collaborates with our next cannabis icon!
Wiz Khalifa is another rapper and media personality who has been incredibly vocal about his daily use of cannabis throughout his career. His music is largely inspired by cannabis and often features fellow cannabis icon Snoop Dogg. With cult classics such as Mac and Devin Go to High School, these two have defined cannabis to younger generations, and today Wiz Khalifa cultivates premium flower for his Khalifa Kush cannabis brand. He also likes to collaborate with many businesses to create limited edition products such as the Taylor Gang Santa Cruz Shredder!
Jack Herer was an American cannabis rights activist and the author of “The Emperor Wears No Clothes,” a book that has become a seminal text in the cannabis legalization movement. As a passionate advocate for cannabis, he worked tirelessly to educate people about its potential benefits. Today this cannabis icon and his work is fondly remembered through one of the most popular strains today that bears his namesake, Jack Herer!
Mila Jansen, also known as the “Hash Queen,” is a Dutch cannabis activist and entrepreneur who invented the Pollinator, a machine that separates cannabis resin from plant material. This invention has absolutely revolutionized the creation of hash by shifting from processes that have been in historical use for hundreds of years. She has been a vocal advocate for the legalization and normalization of cannabis in the Netherlands and beyond. Her work has truly made her an icon through her work to revolutionize hash. After all hash is one of the most sought after items for stoners due to its renowned potency!
Dr. Sanjay Gupta
Dr. Sanjay Gupta is a neurosurgeon and medical journalist who has been a vocal advocate for cannabis in recent years. He has produced several documentaries on the subject, including “Weed,” which helped to bring the issue of medical cannabis to a wider audience. Gupta’s medical background and credibility as a journalist have helped to legitimize the conversation around cannabis. What is incredibly interesting about this cannabis icon is he did not initially support cannabis. After doing his own medical research and interviewing many people within the community, he completely changed his attitude towards this plant!
(You can read his own words on cannabis here!)
Bruce Linton is a Canadian entrepreneur and the co-founder and former CEO of Canopy Growth Corporation, the largest publicly traded cannabis company in the world. A true industrialist and businessman at heart, this cannabis icon helped to build Canopy Growth into a major player in the cannabis industry and has been a vocal advocate for cannabis legalization and regulation throughout the years. His work is a true testament to further legitimizing the cannabis industry.
Rick Simpson is a Canadian engineer who became known for his advocacy of the medicinal use of hemp oil, particularly in the treatment of cancer. He is the author of “Run from the Cure: The Rick Simpson Story” and has been an influential figure in the medical cannabis movement. This cannabis icon is arguably most famous for the invention of RSO oil which is legendary within the cannabis community for its quality and potency as a product. It is most often used as a medical aid which is why the potency is so high.
Dr. Raphael Mechoulam
Dr. Raphael Mechoulam is an Israeli organic chemist and researcher who is known for his pioneering work in the field of cannabis science. He was the first to isolate and synthesize the psychoactive compounds in cannabis, THC and CBD, and has been instrumental in advancing our understanding of the complex mechanisms of cannabis. This cannabis icon has truly helped further cannabis in the field of science and his discoveries are integral to what we know about the plant today. Dr. Mechoulam recently passed away in 2023, and his accomplishments are remembered and revered by the community that would not exist without him!
Bonus Cannabis Icon: Bob “Snoddy” Snodgrass
Bob Snodgrass , aka the Godfather of Glass is an American glass blower and the inventor of glass pieces for cannabis consumption. He is credited for bringing glass blowing and smoking together, which forever changed how people consume cannabis. You can read more about this cannabis icon in our article on the history of cannabis pipes!
These cannabis icons have all played major roles in pushing cannabis further into the mainstream. While there are many others throughout weed’s history, it is cannabis icons such as these people who we can partly thank for utilizing their platforms to advocate for the plant we all love. They are an inspiration to stoners everywhere and proud members of the cannabis community. So hold your head high and be proud when you enjoy your cannabis, because thanks to the work of our communities, stereotypes and stigmas are on the decline.