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Celebrities Use Their Personal Experiences To Break The Cannabis Stigma

Leslie kahn

Kudos to the many celebrities who use their status, money and platforms to help break the stigma of cannabis usage that still exists today. Many are directly involved in pushing for federal legalization and social justice reform of our criminal justice system. In this article I highlight the advocacy efforts of the most high-profile cannabis activist celebrities. 

Melissa Etheridge 

Melissa Etheridge will be the first to admit that she came to be a medical cannabis user rather late in life; at age 43. At the time, she had been diagnosed with breast cancer. Through the urging of David Crosby, she tried it and discovered how much it helped her deal with the side effects of chemotherapy treatments. That was when she decided she needed to become a very vocal advocate for medical cannabis. She has been doing exactly that for the past 15 years. 

Her latest venture is a line of products directed at first-time cannabis users, particularly middle aged women. She has tapped into a demographic of women who are tired of using prescription medications and alcohol to help them unwind. As a result, they are switching to cannabis products. As is well-documented, people purchase products from those whom they admire and consider to be trustworthy. 

Etheridge and her partners are opening a 6,000 sq ft manufacturing and processing plant in Soquel, CA called Etheridge Farms. They were issued the first non-retail cannabis license in Santa Cruz County. Their estimated launch date is Spring 2020.

Products include:

  • Vape pens
  • Tinctures
  • Ointments
  • Flower
  • Products infused with cannabis as well as chamomile, valerian, nettles and arnica

Michael J. Fox

Michael J. Fox rarely speaks publicly about his CBD use to control the symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease. He uses his research foundation, the Michael J. Fox Foundation (MJFF), to speak for him.

The MJFF is advocating for the passage of 3 cannabis research bills:

  • The Medical Cannabis Research Act of 2019, in the House, which is specifically for Parkinson’s Disease research.
  • The Veteran’s Affairs Medical Cannabis Research Act of 2019, both in the House and Senate, which increases access for veterans.
  • The Expanding Cannabis Research and Information Act of 2019, both in the House and Senate, which would reschedule cannabis from Schedule I to Schedule III.

The MJFF sent 3 letters to the FDA in 2018, urging the following:

  • Rescheduling of cannabis
  • Global cannabis reform through the World Health Organization
  • Improved labeling and safety standards for cannabis products

Patrick Stewart 

Patrick Stewart is just one of many high profile celebrities who has come “out of the cannabis closet.” He is now publicly speaking out about how much medical cannabis has helped him deal with the ravages of osteoarthritis in his hands. He inherited this condition from his mother who had painful, badly distorted joints. He uses it daily to increase the flexibility in his finger and thumb joints and to reduce the swelling and inflammation. He can now make fists which he was no longer able to do before using cannabis.

When Stewart’s debilitating arthritis pain was affecting his quality of life, he sought medical attention from a Los Angeles doctor. He was recommended cannabis products and he quickly became a medical cannabis patient.

He uses a cannabis spray on his fingers and joints several times a day.  He uses a cannabis ointment at night. He also uses edible products to help him sleep at night. Together, these medicines provide enough relief from the constant pain and stiffness he experiences to allow him to live a more comfortable and active life. One might even say that his cannabis usage has allowed him to continue with his career. 

While he splits his time between the US and his native UK, Stewart is actively supporting the legalization of medical cannabis in the UK. He is actively trying to help change the law. He is using his celebrity status to support a UK study, the Oxford University Cannabis Research Plan. Funded privately by Kingsley Capital partners, the research will be conducted by the newly created company, Oxford Cannabinoid Technologies. Researchers believe that partnering with academics from Oxford University will generate the development of innovative new therapies for millions of people worldwide. 

Morgan Freeman 

Morgan Freeman has no qualms about publicly supporting all aspects of cannabis usage. He has been speaking out about it for several years. He doesn’t understand why it isn’t legal. He believes it has many uses, unlike alcohol. He currently uses all the delivery methods available to him to find relief from the fibromyalgia pain in his arm. He cites cannabis as the only medicine that offers any relief from his constant pain.

Freeman was in a near fatal car accident in 2008 which shattered his shoulder joint and damaged the rest of his arm. Despite several surgeries, surgeons were unable to restore the nerve damage. He lives with chronic pain. With the help of cannabis, Freeman has been able to learn how to deal with the pain. He continues to speak publicly about how CBD oil helps him manage his daily life by keeping his debilitating pain under control.

Danny Glover

Danny Glover has been an outspoken cannabis legalization advocate and activist for social justice reform for years. He views federal legalization as an integral step to reducing the prison population for non-violent recreational drug offenses which disproportionately targets black and brown men.

For Glover, this is personal. His brothers have been arrested for cannabis use. He wants to help stop the destabilization of families and communities that these incarcerations create. In addition, having to re-integrate such a large number of prisoners back into our communities after they are released is a huge burden. 

Many members of black communities all over the country are still opposed to cannabis usage. All they see is the ravages of their communities due to the incarceration of their young men for non-violent drug offenses. Support of cannabis usage by a high-profile black actor such as Danny Glover goes a long way to breaking the social stigma. Positive word of mouth experiences of medical cannabis usage seems to be the best way to convince members of black communities that it is a safe treatment option. 

Sources:, Melissa Etheridge Opens Etheridge Farms Cannabis, July, 2019, Dan Larkin, Morgan Freeman: The Only Thing That Offers Any Pain Relief is Marijuana, Jan 7, 2019., Sir Patrick Stewart Says He Takes Cannabis Edibles For Arthritis Pain, June 6, 2019, Mandy Froelich, Danny Glover Urges Support for California Prop 64, Oct, 18, 2016, Michael J. Fox Foundation Strongly Urges Support of Medical Cannabis Research, Oct. 18, 2019, Benjamin Adams