7 Successful, Famous, Cannabis-Smoking Geniuses


The following article first appeared in the Hemp Connoisseur Magazine. Find the Hemp Connoisseur on Facebook here.

Marijuana makes you stupid and lazy, or so "they” say. A key argument made by prohibitionists that persists even today relies upon this ethos. The ubiquitous perception that everyone who uses marijuana ends up slouched on the couch, bleary-eyed, watching sophomoric comedies as life tears past seems to be ingrained in the communal perception of chronic use of the chronic.

But maybe, just maybe, there are some exceptions. People that use marijuana who are still on the upper cusp of mental function, who are in fact well beyond the simple-minded prohibitionists who seek every opportunity to avoid any serious contemplation of their existence; perhaps these people do exist.

In this spirit, we  have compiled a brief list of high-functioning nerds that use, or at least support, the use or legalization of marijuana. 

Rick Steves

A renowned world traveler and travel expert, Rick Steves has built an empire out of his passion for exploration and understanding of the world abroad. While Steves has an encyclopedic knowledge of world travel, he is also a persistent advocate for marijuana legalization.

Steves, a board member of NORML and a regular speaker at Seattle’s Hemp Fest, is an impassioned advocate for the reform of drug laws, preferring the European approach of dealing with controlled substances as a public health matter rather than a criminal one.

In 2012, Steves told the LA Weekly: “Marijuana refreshes your perspective and allows you to see things in a different way. It’s humbled me about my ability to really appreciate things. When you’re not high, it reminds you that there might be more to appreciate about something than you’re seeing, hearing or tasting.”

So what makes Steves a nerd? Well, anyone whose knowledge of anything can be described as encyclopedic probably fits the bill. Besides, just look at the guy.

Carl Sagan

Alpha Nerd Prime Carl Sagan has set more minds adrift on a sea of wonder than possibly any other single person in history thanks to his television series “Cosmos.” A legendary advocate of human understanding, Sagan held a PhD in both astrophysics and astronomy from the University of Chicago. With rock-solid credentials like these it’s easy to categorize Sagan as a nerd.

A little more mysterious is Sagan’s use of marijuana. Sagan had extensive knowledge of the plant through his own use, and credits its use with awakening a deeper understanding within him. In 1969 Sagan penned an essay under the pseudonym Mr. X, concluding that “the illegality of cannabis is outrageous, an impediment to full utilization of a drug which helps produce the serenity and insight, sensitivity and fellowship so desperately needed in this increasingly dangerous world.”

Unfortunately, Sagan felt his views would ostracize him among his scientific peers and largely kept these views to himself until later in life. Who knows what effect this towering intellect could have had on the prohibitionist’s argument had he been openly advocating marijuana use throughout his career.

Seth MacFarlane

The creator of “Family Guy” and its many spin-offs, MacFarlane is no stranger to marijuana (though he has claimed to no longer be using it.) Evidence of MacFarlane’s attitude toward marijuana is woven throughout “Family Guy,” perhaps most quotably in the catchy tune “A Bag of Weed” from the series’ 4/20 episode in season seven. The song features the family’s intellectual dog belting out a jaunty tune advocating the legalization of marijuana. Additionally, MacFarlane is featured amongst the Marijuana Policy Project’s list of 50 most influential marijuana users for 2013, earning him a definitive spot on this list.

So MacFarlane’s weed credentials are in order, how about his nerdom? A guy who has the gravitas to release a completely non-satirical album of old-school crooning is way too cool to be considered a nerd, right? Perhaps not. MacFarlane’s nerd status is confirmed by his undeniable status as a Star Wars fanboy. He’s even gone so far as to create three hour-long send-ups of the classic series using his Family Guy characters, often highlighting many of the gripes held by longstanding Star Wars nerds. Oh yeah, did we mention he is the executive producer of the new “Cosmos” series? Don’t let his silky-smooth exterior fool you, MacFarlane is a nerd at heart, and one who appreciates marijuana at that.

Neil deGrasse Tyson

Ok, disclaimer time: Neil deGrasse Tyson has never publicly advocated or admitted to marijuana use, in fact he has been on record decrying the negative effects of conscious altering substances as a pathway to understanding.  Now that that’s out of the way let’s begin the wild speculation that is such a hallmark of modern journalism.

With a mind like a hammer that cracks rocks of ignorance and a persona that makes learning as enticing as tipping back a cold Colt 45, Mr. “Da Grass” really is the Billy Dee Williams of astrophysics. Recently, a video of Tyson slowed down so as to appear stoned has been circulating the web. While this video is clearly altered for the sake of humor, what is telling is Tyson’s reaction to the video. Instead of shunning the video, Tyson has shown a certain appreciation for it himself, clearly finding the humor in the speculation that he gets stoned rather than trying to distance himself from it.

Tyson now helms the resurrected “Cosmos” series (quite a staple on this list, I know) and in a recent episode he went out of his way to mention that Robert Hooke (discoverer of the cell) experimented with cannabis and found no reason to fear it ­– a fact that was not at all necessary to the episode. Additionally, Tyson consistently advocates for reason and understanding to be the guiding force behind mankind, a stance that would seem not to allow for the prohibition of marijuana.

On a more speculative note, those interested in seeing what Tyson might actually be like stoned should consider watching the documentary “Apocalypse How” which features a red-eyed Tyson throwing out an oddly spirited rant about the ease of the cosmic destruction of all life on earth. 

Seth Green

Some people may recognize Seth Green from his roles in Austin Powers or Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The guy has consistently been typecast as the outsider and nerd, and in every one of these roles he seems to fit right in. Green is such a nerd that he’s even made a long-standing television show out of his love of action figures, a show that is consistently among the highest rated shows on Cartoon Network. For those not in the know, “Robot Chicken” is a stop-motion series that uses classic action figures, and it can be an absolute riot when baked.

As for marijuana use, Greens has always been one of those guys that tacitly admits to it with out actually coming right out and saying it. In an interview with Time Magazine Green stated that, “An alarming number of people want to smoke pot with me. A lot of things I’ve done, people who smoke a lot of pot find funny or entertaining. I wonder what that means.”

What indeed.

Bill Gates

With the ability to leap a chair from a standing position and more money in his bank accounts than some countries have in their treasury, the Gator may seem like a genuine badass. However, few people will deny that the Microsoft founder is a nerd. He famously said that people should be nice to nerds, as you will one day most likely be working for one.

It is rumored (and confirmed in at least one biographical account) that Gates used marijuana in college, and his support for the legalization of weed in his home state of Washington is no secret.  

MC Chris

A bit of an underground sensation in certain circles, MC Chris is one of the founding rappers of a genre known as nerd-core. Known for raps from the perspective of Batman and Boba Fett, MC Chris doesn’t shy away from his nerd persona. The high-voiced MC even has a recurring role on the Adult Swim series Aqua Teen Hunger Force as an often-resurrected evil spirit that uses rap music as a method of snaring unsuspecting listeners in his machinations.

For evidence of the MC’s love of marijuana we can turn to a song titled Wiid, which functions as a love song to the plant’s use. The song's hook states clearly “Weed is by my side/ it’s always been there.”

If you ever find yourself at one of MC’s shows don’t be surprised to be surrounded by cosplayers dressed as video game and television characters. Just don’t expect him to hit your weed, as in the song he claims “I used to smoke with kids at shows/but I had to stop because they all had colds.”

Steve Jobs

Former CEO of Apple and the man who brought you the iPod, iPad, iPhone, and nearly every piece of cool technology you can’t explain your desire or need for. According to an interview conducted by the Department of Defense later obtained by Wired Magazine, Jobs was a somewhat regular user of Marijuana back in the ‘70s. In the interview Jobs stated “The best way I would describe the effect of the marijuana and the hashish is that it would make me relaxed and creative.”

If Jobs’ cerebral prowess and tech savvy don’t earn him a spot on our list of nerds, certainly his iconic nerd attire of a black turtleneck tucked into acid-washed jeans does; I mean, James Dean couldn’t even make that look cool.     

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