High society’s highest members

The Arizona Supreme Court decided to let Prop 205 remain on the November ballot, ending the possibility for appeals by the Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy.

Yavapai County Attorney and co-Chair for ARDP, Sheila Polk said "we hope all citizens will read the lengthy legalese before voting," which is as probable as Willie Nelson going dry.

The ARDP claims its gripe with the bill comes from the "irreparable damage this law would bring to our state" in the way it affects employment, families, DUI's, landlord/tenant relations and welfare law.

It seems the ARDP doesn't think Arizonans are capable of smoking responsibly. Well, I'd hate to break it to you guys, but about half of us smoke it already and we seem to be doing OK.

In fact, as with any substance that has potential for abuse, the vast majority of users seem to somehow refrain from crippling our society. Even better are those who excel in our society even while partaking in the occasional (or habitual) use of marijuana.

Let's celebrate the state Supreme Court's decision by showing the ARDP some of the people whose lives weren't completely ruined, and perhaps enhanced, by the devil's weed.

First up, my personal favorite: Carl Sagan. Sagan arguably did more for the popularity of science than any scientist since Thomas Edison (and he was much cooler about it too.)

If you've ever caught the original "Cosmos" on PBS then you've probably wondered if Sagan was stoned with his relaxed, rhythmic tones accompanied by the soft music. It wouldn't be surprising if he at least wrote part of the series with his head in a cloud of smoke.

The way he presented our universe from such an impactful and unique perspective seems like the perfect example of how marijuana can open the trained consciousness to seeing the world in a new way.

Speaking of relaxed, rhythmic tones, Morgan Freeman hasn't been quiet about his enjoyment of the occasional joint. While he certainly isn't afraid to voice his political ideals, there's no denying that the man has spent some serious time thinking about his personal philosophy.

Not only has the Academy Award winner appeared in, produced or directed over 120 movies, he also founded the relief fund PLANIT NOW to help people living in areas affected by hurricanes.

Obviously his employment and contribution to society haven't been affected by marijuana, but then again, he is Morgan Freeman.

On the other side of the political spectrum, we have beloved radio show host Rush Limbaugh. Despite his lunatic ravings that don't make him the best example of sanity under the influence of marijuana, at least opponents on the right may appreciate his mention.

Limbaugh's use is a little different since he's actually a card-carrying member of the medical marijuana population, but he's said before he "wouldn't have been able to make it through hundreds of shows" if he hadn't lit up beforehand. Perhaps that explains some of his content.

Though credit where credit is due, Limbaugh is one of the few republicans to come out in favor of legalizing marijuana, adhering to the fundamental conservative value of deregulation over the party's decaying social agenda.

Perhaps another surprising user—or perhaps not—was the late Maya Angelou. In the second installment of her autobiography, Gather Together in My Name, published in 1974, Angelou recounts her experiences with marijuana in a way only her beautiful prose could portray.

She wrote, "From a natural stiffness I melted into a grinning tolerance. Walking on the street became high adventure, eating my mother's huge dinners an opulent entertainment, and playing with my son was side-cracking hilarity. For the first time, life amused me."

More than any other pot proponent, Angelou cuts to the core of why so many people enjoy the high. It doesn't have to be a mindless departure from reality; walks down the street become fascinating, food tastes better and children become tolerable. What's not to like?

Certainly no one will contest that Angelou's works have had a profound effect on American literature and culture. In fact, she was honored for her contribution at the inauguration of our first black president, which brings us to the final candidate on our list.

Sure, it's no secret that Barack Obama smoked pot in his high school years, but he deserves kudos for the honesty. Straying from Bill Clinton's example, Obama admitted that he "inhaled frequently. That was the point."

Obama has since then disavowed that lifestyle, keeping a safe distance from stoner culture for the generation that may still find smoking pot uncouth. But I think his story more accurately reflects most people's experience with marijuana use than others on this list.

For the vast majority of us, it isn't something to which you spend years of your life uncontrollably beholden (unlike certain other legal substances). But like the future president of the United States, you smoke for a while—some more occasionally than others—then you move on.

This list is far from exhaustive. We could continue to list gold-medal Olympian Michael Phelps, billionaire Bill Gates, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, Willie, Snoop and Chong and countless other movie stars, musicians and TV personalities who have experimented with or regularly smoke marijuana.

The point here isn't that you should go out and smoke yourself into oblivion every day, but to illustrate that marijuana is not the life-ending, soul-sucking, brain killer that many of its opponents make it out to be.

We're all adults here; we know how to roll with joints.

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