Arkansas is known for its beautiful landscapes, clean water, and as of late, the medical marijuana program, which is flourishing. Even a few famous cannabis users have come from the Natural State.
With the famous “I did not inhale” from President Bill Clinton, to Johnny Cash’s Sunday Morning Coming Down, there have been more than a few famous people born in Arkansas with a love of cannabis.
But fame aside, many in the South still hold to some antiquated beliefs and stigmas that cannabis consumers are somehow lazy or less intelligent because of their use of the plant.
While that might have been a popular belief in the socially divided years previous, today we know that to not be true, in fact some of the world’s brightest minds have been full of THC.
In this article, we’ll list five absolutely genius people who used cannabis regularly at some point, or throughout their life. One or two puffs aside, the people on this list are not only credited for their brilliant works, but their love of the cannabis plant.
5 Genius People Who Used Cannabis
#5. Steve Jobs
Although probably more famous for the Mac, iPhone, and psychedelics, Steve Jobs was also a frequent cannabis user and supporter in the years of the inception of Apple.
Throughout the 70’s when Jobs was working at Atari, he was also indulging in cannabis, hash, and LSD.
In the years to follow, Steve would begin working with Steve Wozniak to design the first Apple circuit board, and later launch Apple Computers and the rest is history.
We know Jobs was indulging in cannabis because in 1988 Jobs filled out a questionnaire for a security clearance which was later obtained by Wired through the Freedom of Information Act.
In the questionnaire, Jobs noted that he used LSD 10-15 times between 1972 and 1974, after which he claims to have stopped using it altogether.
He also mentions smoking marijuana once or twice a week from 1973 to 1977 and smoking hashish about five times in total, claiming it helped him relax and made him more creative.
That’s right, the father of the iPhone smoked hash.
#4. William Brooke O'Shaughnessy
William Brooke O’Shaughnessy might not be a name you immediately recognize, but rest assured he was a cannabis fanatic, and an important figure in medical technology.
As a medical doctor he used cannabis to treat pain, muscle spasms, and was one of the earlier Western medicine practitioners that noted cannabis had a particular efficacy with muscle spasticity and seizures in children.
He even used cannabis to treat the symptoms of rabies and tetanus, but obviously that didn’t treat the diseases themselves.
He was credited as bringing Cannabis indica back to Europe from India, introducing it to Western medicine and continuing to write about its impressive medical properties.
O’Shaughnessy was born to a family of mostly clergymen in Limerick, Ireland in 1809. Instead of a career in the family business, O’Shaughnessy went to school to study forensic toxicology and chemistry and graduated in 1820 as a Medical Doctor.
In 1831, at only 22 years old, O’Shaughnessy was studying the blood of cholera victims. In his analysis of the choleric blood, O’Shaughnessy helped invent a new medical technology that would soon become one of the most common practices in medicine worldwide, intravenous fluid and electrolyte replacement therapy, or the IV.
Later, over the course of multiple travels to India, O’Shaughnessy would study galvanic electricity, botanical pharmacology, and even underwater conduction. He helped design and implement over 3,500 miles of telegraph wire in India, invented an independent design of an electrical motor, and published his first of several papers on the medical efficacy of cannabis.
William Brooke O’Shaughnessy was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1843 for his accolades described as "distinguished for his acquaintance with the science of Medicine and Chemistry, eminent as a Physician and as a promoter of education among the natives of Bengal".
#3. Stephen Jay Gould
Stephen Jay Gould is another name that might not immediately jump off the page, but he was instrumental in Canadian access to cannabis, and personally smoked cannabis after his diagnosis of peritoneal mesothelioma.
In 1982 Gould was diagnosed with 8 months to live, after which he became a medical marijuana smoker and went on to live 20 years past his life expectancy.
He was quoted saying that he could not understand how "any humane person would withhold such a beneficial substance from people in such great need simply because others use it for different purposes."
In 1988, his testimony in a trial against the Canadian government would ultimately lead to the right for patients to cultivate, possess, and use cannabis for medical purposes.
Stephen Jay Gould was an incredibly bright evolutionary biologist who is known for one of the most important breakthrough theories in biology, the theory of punctuated equilibrium. The theory described an evolutionary process called stasis, or long periods of time where species do not evolve.
In contrast to previous ideas of evolution that postulated species evolved over long periods of time, Gould’s theory changed how biologists look at species.
This theory revolutionized how evolutionary biologists understand species development, an incredibly important understanding of historical biology.
#2. Carl Sagan
Carl Sagan was not only one of the most prolific scientists of our lifetime, but possibly one of the most prolific lovers of cannabis as well.
Sagan’s contributions to science and space are immeasurable, as was his love of cannabis.
At this time cannabis consumption was often seen as a negative mark on one’s character, especially for scientists and medical practitioners, preventing a lot of voices from speaking out on the plant.
Sagan wrote an anonymous essay concerning cannabis, where he details his experiences and wrote “Cannabis brings us an awareness that we spend a lifetime being trained to overlook and forget and put out of our minds.”.
Sagan was also one of the most accomplished scientists of our time, with his work Cosmossecuring the spot for best-selling science book published in English
As a consultant for NASA, he briefed the Apollo astronauts before their flight to the moon and was an experimenter with numerous expeditions to other planets. Authoring more than 600 scientific papers and over a dozen books, he edited the esteemed scientific journal Icarus, was responsible for the Pale Blue Dot, and even wrote and starred in the popular 1980s TV series Cosmos: A Personal Voyage.
To say that Carl Sagan was a life-long cannabis user and supporter would be an understatement of his profound experiences and thoughts surrounding cannabis.
#1. Dr. Maya Angelou
Some might be surprised to see Dr. Maya Angelou on this list, but she was absolutely no stranger to cannabis, and in fact was quite the lover of the plant, writing in Gather Together in My Name about her excitement surrounding her first time trying cannabis.
Angelou wrote about her relationship with cannabis with romanticism and wonder, writing “Smoking grass eased the strain for me. I made a connection at a restaurant nearby. People called it Mary Jane, hash, grass, gauge, weed, pot, and I had absolutely no fear of using it.”.
Maya Angelou made one of the greatest impacts on earth you can make as a human, contributing to innumerable fields such as theater, music, written and spoken word, Civil rights, minority rights, American rights, women’s rights, it would be tough to have a conversation about American history without mentioning Maya Angelou.
And did we mention she grew up in Stamps, Arkansas?
Some notable people have used cannabis regularly in history. Aside from the casual one-timers, cannabis has found a place in the hearts and minds of many brilliant people.
This list encompasses people who were either regular users or used cannabis regularly at some point as opposed to people who have tried cannabis once or twice, which is a considerably larger pool of people.
Although some certain scientists and historical figures have been credited for their cannabis use, often it is the case that their consumption was tertiary to psychedelics, or in some cases it is even difficult to determine their contextual use of either cannabis sativa or hemp.
The impactful figures in this list were most certainly referring to cannabis containing THC, the main psychoactive compound in the cannabis plant. Their language, references, and beliefs are intrinsically tied to the psychoactive properties of the plant, often from a medical perspective.
That’s quite a different shade of “lazy”, these hardworking and genius-level historical figures were both overly driven to make changes to the world around them while simultaneously using the cannabis plant, putting an easy end to the false stigma that cannabis causes laziness.
So, the next time someone tells you stoners are dumb or lazy, have them try and calculate the total IQ of this list, they probably won’t be able to without a calculator.
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