Builders Of The Cannabis Community
This is a living list that will change and be updated
These are personal sketches of some of the people who we personally believe have made important contributions to building and defining the cultural community around Cannabis.
Cannabis culture is now worldwide, and every country has cultural warriors leading the still-incomplete fight for legalization. But this global movement began with a lot of hard work and personal risk on the part of a creative core of largely American and Dutch visionaries, with plenty of brilliant contributions by others as well.
In America the Cannabis movement grew strong in the face of 50 years of calculating, deliberately violent political repression, while in the Netherlands, applying the national cultural value of tolerance, it grew by reaching agreement on the accommodations needed to resolve the opposing views. The Cannabis culture that has emerged from these two national cultures, one fighting against violent repression and the other happily seeking accommodation, was forged by people of courage and vision like those we are celebrating in these sketches.
We roughly organized everyone by their first name - Arjan Roskam is under A, Jerry Garcia is under J, etc.
We urge friends of Authentic Genetics to nominate others who should be included alongside these good friends, Cannabis legends, and personal heroes of ours.
Aaron McGruder is the creator of “Boondocks”, whose hilarious Cannabis-themed episodes, especially the outrageous “Mr. Medicinal”, are true Cannabis culture icons. The common sense case for older people using and enjoying medical Cannabis has rarely been so effectively presented, and the craziness of the War On Drugs has rarely been made so obvious, so pointedly. Aaron is a cultural and political visionary whose sly wit slices the ordinariness of stupidity and racism to pieces with invisible blades, helping to defeat the hold of the dark side with exquisitely-targeted mockery and laughter.
Alan Dronkers is the oldest son of Cannabis cultural legend Ben Dronkers, and has amplified his family’s accomplishments in Cannabis breeding and genetics through his leadership of the legendary Sensi Seeds, founded by Ben Dronkers in 1985, and through his writing, teaching and entrepreneurship, sharing his passion for the medicinal and spiritual qualities of the plant while innovating commercial and industrial uses for its fiber and oil.
Alice B. Toklas was the life companion of famed American poet Gertrude Stein, and was celebrated in their New York and Parisian literary and art circles for her culinary skills and imagination. After Gertrude Stein’s death, Alice published a cookbook with celebrated French cook and writer Simone Beck containing many of the recipes that they and their friends had enjoyed over the years. Among those recipes was one that became the legendary Alice B Toklas Brownies, which was actually an “Americanized” recipe, created at the insistence of the publishers, for the original hashish fudge. The original hash fudge treat was created by their friend Brion Gysin, a pioneer in performance and kinetic art in America and Europe. Gysin’s inspiration came from his early years in Tangiers with its sophisticated Hashish culture, where he ran a classic 50s beat generation coffeehouse, complete with his home-made hashish delicacies, that was an international crossroads for beat poets, writers, musicians, and artists.
Andrew Weil MD is a highly respected writer, physician, researcher, and teacher. He was the first modern editor of the long-ignored 1894 India Hemp Drugs Commission Report, revealing it to both academia and science and to the emerging Cannabis culture in 1971. For 50 years Andrew has been a groundbreaking researcher, introducing new perspectives on natural medicines across a broad spectrum of physical, emotional and spiritual healing. He is a brilliant speaker and compelling media personality, and his foundation of knowledge is never successfully disputed by opponents of his views on natural medicines and drugs. Andrew was one of the earliest physician/scholars to stand up against the War On Drugs, and has been working as an articulate activist and a persuasive voice of reason in legislative, medical, academic, intellectual, and popular culture circles since the 1970s.
Andrew Sullivan is a sharp-witted political blogger who began “The Daily Dish” in 2000, and has since moved his articulate independent-thinking conservative writing voice progressively to new platforms with ever-widening audiences. Andrew’s passionate, personal and libertarian/conservative advocacy of Cannabis has been widely influential since the 1980s, bringing together communities of interest around Cannabis and HIV/AIDS and articulating their unity. In his book “Cannabis Closet: First Hand Accounts of the Marijuana Mainstream” (2010) he wrote “I’ve always been in favor of legalization of marijuana as an adult. The evidence was overwhelming. Now, that feeling was passive until the AIDS epidemic. I saw friends of mine survive because of medical marijuana. I know people that are alive because of marijuana.”
Anita Roddic is best-known as the founder of The Body Shop, a fashion-forward enterprise based on innovating attractive new eco-friendly body care products. After personally discovering Cannabis while hiking in Israel in the late 1980s, where a friendly American turned her on in an ancient tomb, she began adding hemp seed oil to her body care products, stirring up strident British yellow journalism headlines predicting teens getting stoned on moisturizers and eyeliners. Anita was a courageous and determined entrepreneur, philanthropist and activist throughout her life and, like many pioneers who have passed, the true extent of her insights into the healing properties of hemp seed oil are only now beginning to be appreciated.
Anna Boyce is a California Registered Nurse and medical Cannabis advocate who co-authored and advocated tirelessly for the passage of Prop 215, which in 1996 was the first state-level ballot medical marijuana legalization initiative to pass successfully in defiance of the Federal Cannabis laws.
Arjan Roskam is a creative, prolific Cannabis entrepreneur and communicator, well-known and highly respected for his groundbreaking documentary series “Strain Hunters”, video narratives of expeditions to discover new Landrace Cannabis ‘strains’ around the world. In addition to “Strain Hunters”, Arjan’s legacy chain of “Green House Coffee Shops” and his “Green House Seed Company” businesses and brands are often cited as outstanding examples of a successful, innovative Cannabis business ecosystem in which commerce, science and education blend seamlessly.
Barbara Lee is a compassionate, dedicated California US Representative legislator whose important work for the Cannabis community includes the “Marijuana Justice” Act, which was designed to strip Cannabis from the Federal “Controlled Substances Act”. She is also the creator of the “States' Medical Marijuana Property Rights Protection Act”, the “Veterans Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Act”, and the “Restraining Excessive Federal Enforcement & Regulations of Cannabis (REFER) Act.” Beyond her support for the Cannabis community she, often courageously, represents the incredibly diverse East Bay community in Congress.
Ben Dronkers is the energetic, creative Dutch entrepreneur and philanthropist who founded Sensi Seeds in 1985, which became the foundation for generations of growers around the world. Ben also created the iconic “Hash, Marijuana & Hemp Museum” a tribute to the cool, the outrageous and the obscure that fits perfectly in the laid-back Amsterdam Cannabis scene.
Bill Maher is a dry, ironic witty comedian whose perceptive commentaries on the foibles and stupidity of undeserved power, wealth and influence appeal to broad audiences across all demographics. With cutting humor backed by wicked insights, Bill has been instrumental in bringing forward public realization of the hypocrisy and illegitimacy of Cannabis criminalization, and has empowered generations of people with the facts and reasoning needed to assert their rights to grow and use Cannabis.
Dr. Johanna Budwig was a mid-20th century German nutrition scientist whose work on Essential Fatty Acids and human health was fanatically suppressed by the financial and political interests behind the exploding post-WWII industrialization of the food industry. While her work is widely recognized in Germany today, it is virtually unknown in the US. However, Dr. Budwig’s research led directly to today’s discoveries of the remarkable health-giving and medicinal properties of Hemp seed oil and the importance of its superior EFA profile. Compared with the Flax seed oil that Dr. Budwig successfully utilized in the early 1950s to cure terminal cancer patients, Hemp seed oil’s superior EFA profile is showing even greater promise in a wide range of medical therapies and healthy nutritional applications.
Cannabis Business Times was an early and influential Cannabis news website and monthly magazine that has evolved into a highly respected go-to print magazine for carefully-vetted information and insights that focus on the business and financial sides of Cannabis culture.
Carolyn Garcia is the legendary “Mountain Girl”, who fans of The Grateful Dead know with great affection as Jerry Garcia’s first wife. Emerging from the early 60’s Stanford organic chemistry labs and rolling into the world of Cannabis and psychedelics aboard the “Great Bus Further” of Ken Kesey’s Merry Pranksters, Carolyn met Jerry and they became the heart of the Grateful Dead House on Ashbury - some say they were the houseparents. Subsequently when they moved to the country her family’s organic gardening roots emerged and she wrote “Primo Plant”, one of the most practical and insightful Cannabis gardening books ever written. She has gone on to become one of the most respected voices in the organic growing and natural medicines communities.
Chris Conrad was a designer, editor and writer of high-impact imaginative content for Jack Herer’s bestselling book, The Emperor Wears No Clothes (1990). Chris is an internationally recognized Cannabis activist, speaker, consultant and author. His books include Hemp: Lifeline to the Future (1993), Hemp for Health (1997), Nostradamus and the Attack on New York (2002, revised 2015). He is co-author of The Newbie’s Guide to Cannabis and the Industry (2015) with Jeremy Daw.
Dana Larsen is co-founder of the Vancouver Seed Bank and was the editor of Cannabis Culture Magazine for a decade. He is the politically adept creator of the Overgrow Canada social action project that gave away 10 million Cannabis seeds to growers across Canada from 2016-19. A prolific Cannabis author, he has written books that are pure fun (Hairy Pothead and the Marijuana Stone) and books that are serious (Cannabis in Canada: The Illustrated History).
Debby Goldsberry is an influential medical marijuana activist who co-founded the Berkeley Patients Group medical cannabis collective in 1999, and is the managing director for a group of medical cannabis dispensaries in the Bay area. She is co-founder of the United Cannabis Collective, where patients can access the full range of Cannabis-related health services. Debby is also the author of the “Idiot’s Guide” to starting and running a marijuana business, which calls for a focus on the mission as much as the business, and she is a generous mentor to others in the medical cannabis community.
Dennis Peron was a passionate early advocate for the legalization of marijuana for use by people with medical needs not being met by conventional medicine, a passion fueled by his personal experiences with the dramatic medical benefits of Cannabis for people suffering and dying with HIV/AIDS. Dennis founded the San Francisco Cannabis Buyers’ Club for medical Cannabis patients at the height of Federal authoritarianism, and was a force in the passage of California Prop 215, celebrated as a major victory in the Cannabis revolution.
Donnie Anderson was an activist whose energy and organizational skills underpinned his contributions to justice and equity in the Cannabis business, embodied in the California Minority Alliance which he co-founded. CMA addresses the ongoing gross inequities in what The Guardian newspaper called “a farce of social equity” in California’s post-legalization allocation of licenses and financial support for minority Cannabis entrepreneurs. A force across many communities, Donnie chaired the 2015 NAACP California-Hawaii Cannabis Task Force, was the owner of the Western Caregivers medical Cannabis dispensary, and was a founding board member of the California Growers Association and co-founder of the Southern California Coalition.
DJ Pooh is a legendary American record producer and a celebrated film writer, director, actor, and is equally well-known as a record producer, game writer/producer, and rapper. Pooh DJ’d Todd McCormick’s first Playboy Mansion party in 2007. He is widely celebrated for his creative genius in writing and starring as “Red” in the Black cult classic film “Friday”, a movie that has been called “the most important film ever written about the Hood.” and for his other films “The Wash” and “Three Strikes”. He is a hip-hop legend, the first producer assigned to Def Jam Records back in the 1980s and the producer of a long string of successful classic albums with artists including Snoop Dogg, 2Pac, Ice Cube and LL Cool J.
Ebele Ifedigbo is a California grass-roots, street-level social justice activist whose “Hood Incubator” is a widely-recognized model for successful Cannabis equity programs, using a real-world approach to address the damage left behind in marginalized neighborhoods by the War On Drugs. The Hood project draws on Ebele’s analytical and financial credentials and applies them to the streets of the East Bay, helping people whose lives formerly depended on illegal dealing and growing Cannabis make the difficult adjustment to becoming legal, licensed Cannabis businesspeople
Elvy Musikka was arrested in 1998 in Florida for growing Marijuana in her backyard to treat her advancing glaucoma, and has been called “the classic little old lady in tennis shoes”. She was acquitted of the cultivation charge with the help of NORML, and because of that arrest, Elvy sued the federal government and became the first woman accepted to the Compassionate Investigational New Drug Program, in the 1980’s, where the U.S. Government sent her 300 joints a month as a recognized medical treatment for glaucoma. Elvy was forced to rely for her medicine on a “legal” supply of Federal Mississippi medical marijuana that she described as “hemp” and that was so ineffective that it forced her into multiple surgeries over years of pain. In 2022 Elvy is now living in a Cannabis-legal state where her medical needs can be met with effective medical Cannabis, and is continuing her fight for the rights of victims of the still widespread repression of Medical Cannabis.
The Emerald Cup is an annual Cannabis festival/showcase with roots planted deep in the Cannabis Legalization, Sungrown Cannabis, & Organic Farming movements in California. The Emerald Cup holds a special place in the hearts of the West Coast Cannabis community. The brainchild of former outlaw grower and visionary Tim Blake, what began in the early 2000s in the Northern California mountains as a private event among clandestine Cannabis growers enabling them quietly gather to share ideas and compare flowers, has grown into an internationally celebrated festival of music, food, workshops and high-energy contests in everything from flower to edibles to medicines. As Tim proudly says, after nearly two decades of hard work and dedication to building the Emerald Cup - “It's like a Cannabis Lollapalooza”.
Franco Loja was Arjan Roskom’s partner in the Greenhouse Coffeehouse & Seed Company and was a passionate adventurer, grower, and seeker of new Cannabis varieties worldwide. His engaging personality and interesting insights are highlights of the extensive collection of Strain Hunters YouTube videos. Franco died of Malaria in 2017, in pursuit of yet undiscovered Cannabis strains in the Congo.
Freeway Rick Ross is a smart, colorful renegade, born in a little town in East Texas and raised in LA, who made several fortunes in the 1980s as a major West Coast dealer/distributor often working in plain sight of the law. Freeway Rick rolled his enormous profits into a legitimate real estate empire along the 110 Freeway and built a national distribution network, all done with such style and smarts that he was untouchable for years until he trusted the wrong person and was sent to prison for life in 1996. He devoted his time in prison to studying the legal system, looking for the kinds of angles and loopholes that he had found so useful in building his empire. He found that loophole, leading to his successful release after 13 years. Freeway Rick Ross has gone on to become an influential writer, speaker and mentor, admired by many people, and his newest book “21 Keys” details the secrets to leading a successful life not as a criminal, but as someone who knows how to live an unconventional life largely by their own rules.
George van Patten is the pen-name of Jorge Cervantes, a prolific writer and prominent Cannabis community media personality, whose books and videos have enlightened generations of beginning Cannabis growers and aficionados.
Green House Seed Company is one of the most respected names in international Cannabis genetics. Greenhouse is a Dutch seed company started by Arjan Roskam in 1985, around the same time as other Dutch and American Cannabis entrepreneurs were discovering the worldwide need for dependable sources of quality Cannabis genetics.
Grow Magazine is a beautifully designed print magazine full of high-quality photographs, Cannabis growing technology, and helpful articles. Published in the Pacific Northwest, Grow Magazine offers a classic West Coast vibe to its readers.
Henk de Vries is the founder of “The Bulldog”, one of Amsterdam’s first (1975) and still one of its greatest Coffee Shops. He understood the value of education and public opinion and worked creatively for years to reach people with the Cannabis message. He was a central and influential voice in the development of the Netherlands’ policy of tolerance toward Cannabis and ultimately toward all drugs. The Dutch idea of ‘tolerance’ is a unique, strongly-held cultural value that means that one gracefully, or at least not antagonistically, accepts even what one disagrees with, disapproves of, or dislikes in others. To the dismay of his opponents, Henk was a leader in making sure that this deep cultural principle was applied to Dutch drug laws. When applied to drug policies, this embedded respect for tolerance meant that for many years Cannabis was tolerated, although illegal, in the Netherlands while the rest of the world was going crazy with its doomed American-led War On Drugs. The vast majority of visitors to the Netherlands in those days just assumed that Cannabis was legal, but it was not. However, thanks to the work of pioneers like Henk, legality was not an issue - unless you tried to smoke on the trams or outside the zone. For the substantial part of Dutch society that (then) wanted Cannabis illegal, so it was. But it was also tolerated - within limits.
High Times Magazine was founded in 1974 by Tom Forçade, and is said to have been intended as one-time-only takeoff on Playboy, celebrating Marijuana and Sex, but the idea and the magazine took off and High Times quickly became a leading 70s revolutionary advocate for the legalization of cannabis, LSD, and psychedelic mushrooms. In the 1980s High Times evolved into a magazine with a strong Cannabis-only focus and became a leading voice for the increasingly successful legalization movement of the 21st Century.
Hugh Hefner was well-known as the creator of the Playboy lifestyle, but far less well-known for his philanthropy and social justice advocacy. He gave the Cannabis movement the energy behind much of its evolution - it was Hugh Hefner’s money, given privately and without condition, that gave Keith Stroup and NORML their first operating budget and empowered them to become an emerging force and influential voice in the Marijuana legalization movement. Hugh’s generous philanthropy and support for social justice in big and small ways continued throughout his life, and his foundation today leads in advocacy for free speech and human rights.
Irv Rosenfeld is one of the longest surviving patients on the Federal program to receive Mississippi-grown “legal” medical Cannabis. In the mid-1970s a Washington DC attorney who had severe glaucoma named Robert Randall sued the federal government to obtain marijuana medicine under the Compassionate Care Act and won. His victory allowed a few others with qualifying conditions to get cannabis from the U.S. government and that included Irv Rosenfeld. Now over 40 years later Irv, a healthy and successful stockbroker, is still on the program and keeping his cancer in remission by smoking 5% THC Federal joints they send him every month.
Jack Herer (pictured above) is one of the most highly respected authors, activists and innovators in Cannabis culture and is also the name of one of the most popular Cannabis varieties in the world. Jack is best known as the author of “The Emperor Wears No Clothes”, a hugely successful book that introduced millions to the unrecognized medicinal and industrial uses of Cannabis, and that championed legalization with new and credible arguments and indisputable facts. Jack Herer the Flower was introduced in 1994 by the Sensi Seed bank as a tribute to their favorite author. Jack Herer the Flower is as much a legend as Jack Herer the Person, who died in 2009, and so now they are one and the same.
Jane West was instrumental in elevating the stature of Cannabis from street weed to socially acceptable in the Denver arts & business communities. In 2013 she founded the hugely successful Women Grow educational and business support network and subsequently created and built her now-iconic Jane West brand bringing recognizable design sophistication to Cannabis lifestyle products and services.
Jerry Garcia was one of the first and most influential rock stars to smoke Marijuana casually and frequently in public, breaking all the rules and daring authorities to arrest him. Which they did - numerous times. But Jerry always came out looking stronger, and his self-effacing courage inspired a generation of young people to step up and fight for their rights, all of them. His music and poetry need no description, only our shared memories.
Joa is a well-known Amsterdam Cannabis activist and owner of the Green House Cafe. He is Arjan Roskam’s partner in multiple Cannabis ventures and is well-known in the international Cannabis community.
Joe Rogan is a true American original with an amazing world-wide presence. Through his classic podcast “The Joe Rogan Experience” and its YouTube video edition he speaks with a fair-minded voice and powerful, ironic personality that attract, challenge and inform the thinking of millions of listeners and viewers worldwide. Joe is one of the most effective advocates for international recognition of the rightful, rational place of Cannabis in society in part because, like all good journalists, he is not a spokesperson for any special interests. If anything, he speaks strongly for the individual citizen’s full legal right to grow. He is an even more effective advocate because he discovered Cannabis as an already-accomplished adult with an established media career, and his mature and passionate focus on accomplishing rational legislative treatment for Cannabis, consistent with its proven benefits to society, makes Joe Rogan one of the Cannabis community’s most valuable voices for sustainable positive change.
John Morgan MD is the author of Marijuana Myths, Marijuana Facts (The Lindesmith Center, New York, 1997) a groundbreaking book for its time that reviewed the latest scientific and medical research, debunking common marijuana myths and advocating common sense - a controversial position for a physician. Dr. Morgan has published widely on the clinical pharmacology of psychoactive drugs. His work focused on key social issues such as urine testing in the American workplace, the legalization of medical marijuana, the prevalence of alcohol use during national prohibition, and physician drug prescribing practices.
Keith Stroup is a public interest attorney and the founder of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws - NORML. Keith and NORML have led generations of supporters in the fight for legalization and normalization spanning four decades and their efforts, along with the reform efforts of millions of people they have inspired, are paying off in the US and around the world.
Kenny Morrow is a passionate, brilliant writer and innovator whose writings on the science, art and history of Cannabis, Cannabinoids and Terpenes are insightful, well-documented, and full of gems, and whose Trichome Technologies is breaking new ground in our understanding of the potential of these marvelous natural compounds for human health and vitality. We recommend reading his work in Cannabis Business Times: https://www.cannabisbusinesstimes.com/author/11188/
Leah Maurer is the founder of The Weed Blog and as COO, lead writer and editor has built it into a trusted and respected source of Cannabis news and information. Her woman-focused “Sweet Jane” magazine continually breaks new journalistic ground on special interest Cannabis topics. Leah works energetically to support women, minorities and ex-prisoners who are developing as leaders in the Cannabis industry, and is widely known for her generous mentoring.
Lester Grinspoon MD was the author of more than 140 articles in scientific journals and twelve books. Lester’s work on Cannabis was courageous and pioneering in the often-timid world of academic and medical scholarship. His books include the1971 Marihuana Reconsidered which was published by Harvard University Press and Marihuana, the Forbidden Medicine, coauthored with James B. Bakalar, published in 1993 by Yale University Press. Some of his other groundbreaking books include Psychedelic Drugs Reconsidered and Psychedelic Reflections.
Matt Stone is the co-creator of “South Park”, who along with Trey Parker was one of the first and the strongest voices to express concern around corporate venture capitalists taking unfair advantage of Cannabis legalization. South Park has served the movement toward Cannabis legalization and full equity participation for years by making serious fun of both the opponents and the exploiters of legal Cannabis, from their “Tegridy Farms” riff in Season 23 about small marijuana farms going into business with China, to their “Med Men” raps on big pharma’s appropriation of medical cannabis. With a new contract in 2022 “South Park” is guaranteed a run through 2027, giving Kyle, Stan, Eric and Kenny plenty of new opportunities to hold a silly mirror up to society’s would-be elites.
Marc Emery is a Cannabis Canadian activist who is the influential founder of Pot TV and Cannabis Culture Magazine. As a child he was a business phenomenon, making $100s a week by age 12 dealing stamps and comics by mail, later dropping out of high school starting his own “City Lights Bookshop” modeled after his idol Beat poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Beginning in the 1990s Marc was super-active in the BC and Canadian Cannabis legalization scene, frequently provoking raids and arrests and steadily advancing the cause. In 2000 he was a founding member of The Marijuana Party of Canada, and he has since run for office from many Cannabis-related political platforms. Marc is a true original as an advocate, a promoter, an entrepreneur, and an irrepressible voice for freedom of choice fighting against Canada’s deeply moralistic authoritarianism.
Mary Jane Rathbun is known and loved as Brownie Mary, remembered as “the Florence Nightingale of the medical marijuana movement”. As a volunteer at San Francisco General Hospital in the years when the HIV/AIDS epidemic was first overwhelming the San Francisco Gay community, she became widely beloved for the no-nonsense, but grandmotherly manner by which she distributed her “Magical Brownies” to patients. She personally helped thousands of sick and dying people in the dark days before any effective conventional medical treatment was available. Brownie Mary had been a tough young union organizer in the late 30s and a passionate abortion rights activist in the 40s, so her advocacy of medical marijuana on behalf of AIDS victims was a natural extension of that strong, compassionate nature. Arrested multiple times and always victorious, along with Dennis Peron and other grassroots activists Mary was instrumental in the passage of California Prop 215. Tragically, in spite of all the love and care she had given to thousands of others, she died alone and in poverty.
Melissa Etheridge is a singer and social justice activist who discovered and used medical Cannabis in successfully overcoming breast cancer and, recognizing that the laws against medical patient use of Cannabis were mirrored in the systematic legal oppression of LGBTQ people, she became a strong rights advocate and musical voice across the spectrum, notably with her powerful singing in “An Inconvenient Truth”. Beyond her advocacy work she has created a widely recognized medical Cannabis brand Etheridge Botanicals based on her long-time Etheridge Farm’s involvement in the California legacy Cannabis movement.
Mel Frank is a deeply respected, highly original thinker and one of the founders of the Cannabis revolution. He was a prolific grower, researcher and breeder long before it was legal, and is a multi-talented writer, photographer, and botanist. He has received three lifetime achievement awards from the Cannabis industry and has been called “The Godfather of Marijuana Growers.” His 1978 Marijuana Grower’s Guide Deluxe is known to this day as the bible of growing and his original work with Cannabis genetics is known and admired world-wide. Check out some of Mel Frank’s world-famous genetics at: https://agseedco.com/collections/mel-frank
Michael Aldrich is a respected Cannabis historian whose 1970 Doctoral dissertation “Marijuana Myths & Folklore” became a foundational work for many seeking to understand the origins and place of this new phenomenon that was beginning to sweep across society. The remarkable achievement of getting a PhD dissertation presenting a balanced view on Marijuana approved at an American state-run university in the late 1960s cannot be overstated.
Mila Jansen is universally known with great affection as the Netherlands’ own hash queen. Mila burst onto the Amsterdam scene in 1965 at age 21 with an outrageous 60s-style fashion boutique aptly, no doubt, named Kink 22, a clothing imports enterprise that quickly morphed into a tea shop offering little hash cakes with the customers' tea. That special customer service innovation quickly attracted police attention in not-yet totally laid back Holland and Mila was off to Asia in her VW Camperbus, spending the next 14 years building a fabrics and fashion business in India with eager customers around the world. Returning to Amsterdam she at once got into the growing business and ran a sophisticated operation for several years but then in the mid-90s she had a flash while using a laundry dryer and the world of Cannabis changed forever. Mila’s invention, based on that spinning dryer and her deep knowledge of Cannabis flowers, was the first really effective hash-making machine, dubbed The Pollinator. Quickly catching on worldwide, it has been followed over the years since by the hilariously named Ice-o-Lator, the Bubbleator and Mila’s latest, the Dab-a-Doo.
Mikki Norris is a highly respected cannabis and drug policy reform activist, speaker and educator. Mikki’s best-known work is “Shattered Lives: Portraits from America’s Drug War”, co-authored with husband Chris Conrad. Shattered Lives is based on the “Human Rights and the Drug War” project created by Mikki and Chris that put a human face on non-violent prisoners of the Drug War. Mikki’s work has been celebrated with awards from NORML, Lindesmith/Drug Policy Foundation, Oaksterdam University, and the Emerald Cup among others.
Michka Seeliger-Chatelain is an amazing French writer whose life story encompasses early years that took her from the Sorbonne to British Columbia where she and her companion hand-built a 44 foot sailboat and then sailed it back to Europe through the Panama Canal. While in BC she had discovered Cannabis, which as Hashish had been a staple of French intellectual and literary circles for over a century by then, so as a Sorbonne student she would not have been unfamiliar. After returning to Paris and meeting Hugo Verlomme, she became passionately involved in writing about Cannabis prohibition, then as now quite severe in France, and published “Le Dossier vert, d’une drogue douce”, followed by many other books that were equally influential in changing minds and that will ultimately change the laws in France. In 1993 she got into a direct conflict with the French state over her right to publish, in which she prevailed. Today she is the force behind Mama Editions, a publisher of books on “taboo and esoteric subjects such as cannabis, shamanism, natural childbirth, channeling and entheogens with an emphasis on global well-being”, and has had a Cannabis variety named in her honor by Sensi Seeds.
Nancy Do is a Cannabis activist/entrepreneur who rose through the challenges of arrest and imprisonment for Cannabis research and cultivation to found Endo Industries, a company founded on Cannabis genetics but extending services and support throughout the Cannabis industry with a special focus on empowering members of the LGBTQ community to become successful Cannabis businespeople, scientists, and advocates.
Ol’ Ed Holloway was an American West coast “sinsemilla” (a new idea in those days) grower who traveled the world seeking Cannabis knowledge and ultimately made his way to Amsterdam in the late 1970s just in time to play a major role in the freshly emerging Dutch Cannabis scene. Coffee Shops had only been around since 1975 and the Cannabis in the shops was all imported, illegal, and costly. That bothered Ol’ Ed, who had already been growing for years in various parts of the world. Teaming up with several younger Dutch friends, who are today leaders of the European Cannabis scene, Ol’ Ed produced the first kilo of legal Cannabis in the Netherlands, which sold for 14,000 Guilders to “The Bulldog”. Ol’ Ed’s striking white Van Dyke beard was an icon in the hazy, crazy days of Ol’ Amsterdam, and the echoes of the wonderful “Sinsemilla” seeds he planted then still ring across the planet.
Red Eye Magazine (this tribute is by Kenny Morrow, because we couldn’t say it better.) Red Eye Magazine was a hashish lovers magazine. The travelogs were written by Zorro (Nick). He would travel to the Hashish producers of the world and watch them make anything from an ounce to a ton. He would sample their wares and come home and write some of the most amazing stories I have ever read. He went to the mountain tops of all modern day hash making, such as the tribal areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan, he went to Gambia, Tibet, Nepal, he went anywhere and everywhere. I love the man like a brother and I miss him.
Red Eye Press is Mel Frank’s Publishing Company, which took over publication of his pioneering “The Deluxe Marijuana Growers Guide” in 1990 from And/Or Press which, under Sebastian Orfali, had been the original 1978 publisher. Red Eye Press is celebrated in the Cannabis community for rescuing and publishing an updated 2012 edition of Robert Connell Clarke’s landmark 1998 book “Hashish”, still the definitive reference work on this sophisticated topic. Red Eye Press has also published important works in collaboration with Cannabis luminaries Ed Rosenthal and Jorge Cervantes.
Richard Branson is a renaissance man who has created prosperity and wealth for millions of people and whose achievements in aviation, entertainment, transportation and finance are legendary. He has also made many important contributions to the Cannabis legalization movement in the UK and the US - mostly quietly, sometimes publicly, always generous. Founder of Virgin Records at age 20 in 1970, and of many successful “Virgin” entities since, including railways, airlines and space vehicles, Richard’s life and accomplishments totally rebuke the Cannabis prohibitionist’s favorite fear-mongering meme, the dreaded ‘amotivational syndrome’.
Richard Davis was a true pioneer - an overused word but so appropriate here - in the California Cannabis community, homesteading and growing some of the finest Marijuana in Mendocino County in the early 70s, still remembered among growers from that place and time, continually traveling the West Coast as a teacher and mentor to other growers. Years later in the 1990s, he took his impeccable sense of political theater on the road with his Traveling Hemp Museum, speaking truth about the Cannabis while pointing to clear glass jars full of totally illegal flower in front of delighted reporters, hostile police, confused DAs, and a growing and enthusiastic community of supporters.
Dr. Roberta Hamilton was a UCLA biochemist who first introduced Jack Herer, author of “The Emperor Wears No Clothes”, to the virtually unknown research behind the remarkably superior medicinal and nutritional value of hemp seed oil compared with all other plant seed oils. Her detailed research was the foundation for much of Jack’s groundbreaking writing on the medical and nutritional importance of Cannabis.
Robert C. Clarke is an intellectual leader among Cannabis researchers and communicators, bringing a trained scientific mind, an artist’s appreciation, and a writer’s intuitive insight to his lifelong work with Cannabis. His 1981 book “Marijuana Botany” gave the Cannabis community its first complete, systematic understanding of Cannabis as a functioning biological organism, leading to generations of discoveries as others followed the scientific trails he blazed. Rob is the author of other Cannabis ‘firsts’ including “Hashish (1998/2012)”, and “Cannabis: Evolution and Ethnobotany (2013)”. Rob continues to write, innovate, collaborate, and contribute his breakthrough research and discoveries to the Cannabis community.
The Seed Bank of Holland was Australian/Dutch Nevil Schoenmakers’ first-ever Cannabis mail-order seed business, his answer to the US-led War On Drugs. It was the launching pad for tens of thousands of growers in the US beginning in the mid-1980s - quite unfortunately for many people as things turned out with Operation Green Merchant. Built on West Coast genetics first brought to Holland by Skunkman Sam in July of 1984 and then including other genetics from Seattle Greg in August of that same year, Nevil reproduced and leveraged seeds from these now-classic varieties into a legal Cannabis seed business that supplied tens of thousands of clandestine 1980s US growers with seeds created, ironically, from varieties that had to leave the US to find their rightful place.
Sensi Seeds Is one of the best-known Cannabis seed producers in the world, founded in 1985 by Ben Dronkers as part of the Dutch Cannabis avant garde that brought reasonably safe seed purchasing options to growers.
Simon Schmitz is the founder of Serious Seeds, one the The Netherlands’ oldest (1995) seed-companies, known for its focus on producing high-quality, stable and consistent varieties of seeds with proven genetics that growers worldwide have depended on for generations. A high school biology teacher who discovered Cannabis during travels in Africa in the mid-80s, Simon brought seeds back to Amsterdam and began growing and breeding Cannabis plants privately for his own pleasure and interest. In the early 90s Alan Dronkers heard of him through his students, who of course had tweaked to their cool treacher’s activities, and brought him into Sensi Seeds where he became a star breeder, later leaving to start “Serious Seeds”, which quickly made an enduring name for itself among serious growers and breeders.
Sister Somayah Kambui was a tough, smart Black Panther in the early 70s and became a lifelong advocate for equity and social justice after successfully treating herself with Cannabis for sickle cell anemia after everything else had failed. The focus of her advocacy was on Cannabis for treatment of diseases that afflict mainly people of color and therefore receive little attention from for-profit medicine. After the passage of Prop 215 she began cultivating medical Cannabis for herself and others, but her two convictions on firearms and explosives charges from Black Panther days set her up for the “third strike” she suffered when raided in 2001 for Cannabis cultivation. However, in a rare show of the power of justice, the jury refused to convict Sister Somayah and she was set free by ‘jury nullification”. She continued with her dedicated, passionate medical Cannabis mission, but enraged authorities targeted her continuously for the rest of her life, which ended in sickness and poverty on Thanksgiving day, 2008, finally crushed by the government and her suffering largely ignored by the community.
Skunkman Sam is among the legendary and almost mythical founding fathers of today’s Cannabis culture, beginning with his outrageous and daring grows of unique and unusual Cannabis varieties in the Santa Cruz mountains in the early 1970s at the height of Nixon’s War On Drugs, in the days of Paraquat and napalm. He brought the first fully curated selection of West Coast Cannabis genetics to the Netherlands in the mid-80s, including the now world-famous Skunk #1, and that collection then became the foundation for many of today’s Dutch seed companies. Skunkman Sam continues to work in Europe and around the world making original and groundbreaking contributions to the Cannabis community through his writing, his scholarly collections of Cannabis research and writing, his generous support of his brothers and sisters in the community, and his innovative genetic research.
Skunk Magazine is a leading print publication and online resource for credible ‘how-to’ information and research on sustainable, organic home-growing practices. Located in Canada but with a global vision, Skunk brings together growers, scientists, writers and communicators from around the world to create a globally-relevant information resource for organic Cannabis cultivation.
Steve Hager was the editor of High Times magazine beginning with its second incarnation in 1988, and he is credited with removing hard drugs from the magazine, and focusing the content on advocating for and supporting personal cultivation of Cannabis. Steve Hager and High Times were the first to publish and promote the work of now-legendary Cannabis Hemp activist Jack Herer, and over the years have helped hundreds of Cannabis writers, photographers, musicians, growers and entrepreneurs succeed in their work. He is a prolific author, film producer and social inventor, and he is creator of the Cannabis Cup, an annual event in Amsterdam honoring the highest achievements in the world of Cannabis that year and in history.
Taylor Blake is a powerful influence for positive change in the diverse community of California’s sun-grown, small farm Cannabis growers, building on her heritage as the daughter of Tim Blake and member of the “First Family” of California’s Emerald Triangle. She co-produces the annual “Emerald Cup” with her father Tim, an internationally recognized event that has been showcasing and celebrating the achievements of California’s sungrown Cannabis community for 18 years.
Tim Blake is a California visionary whose lifetime of dedication to organic growing inspired him in 2003 to create and organize California’s premier grassroots, sungrown organic Cannabis - The Emerald Cup. First organized by Tim and a close community of like-minded organic sun-growers, the Emerald Cup has expanded every year since 2003 and now includes small Cannabis grower/farmers in every category - sungrowers, organic growers, indoor growers, greenhouse growers, and more, and showcases the best of the best Cannabis flower and Cannabis products. It is a unique event in the world of Cannabis - an intense but friendly and supportive contest for honors among growers and geneticists, a world-class farmers market, a rolling musical riot, and educational programs featuring the best, brightest minds in Cannabis cultivation, science and business where speakers tackle everything from novel applications for new technology to new approaches to nitty-gritty problems like gender and racial discrimination and social/economic inequity.
Tod Mikuriya MD was a California psychiatrist who the NY Times says is “widely regarded as the grandfather of the medical marijuana movement in the United States.” Dr. Tod was a practicing physician and a practicing humanitarian. For many years people with cancer and AIDS came to his private practice in Berkeley from around the world, seeking help that no other doctor had the courage to provide. At the time of his death, he was reported to have written Cannabis prescriptions for nearly 9,000 patients. Dr. Tod was also a wake & bake kind of guy. As The Los Angeles Times reported in 2004, “He willingly acknowledges, unlike most of his medical peers in cannabis consulting, that he does indeed smoke pot, mostly in the morning with his coffee.”
Tom Alexander is the founder of Sinsemilla Tips and The Growing Edge. From his home base in Corvallis Oregon Tom was an early (1980) and effective counterforce to the Nixon-Reagan-Bush War on Drugs. First published as a simple journal, Sinsemilla Tips grew organically by word of mouth through a widening network of growers and emerged as an elegant, well-organized clearinghouse for information that growers couldn’t obtain any other way. Tom brought a wide range of growing know-how into the realm of Cannabis, and was an early advocate of sustainable, organic, sun-grown farming. While Sinsemilla Tips was targeted, attacked and shut down after 10 years of life by “Operation Green Merchant” in 1990, Tom had already pivoted to the strictly non-Cannabis “Growing Edge” and continued on his way. After selling the magazines in 2009 Tom has devoted his time to teaching, consulting and growing 100% legal flowers in the sun.
Valerie Corral is the 1993 founder of Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana (WAMM), the first medical Cannabis collective in the country to be granted IRS non-profit status. She is also the founder of the Raja Kudo project, a compassionate non-profit that supports dying people and their caregivers. She was influential in the drafting and passage of Prop 215 in the 1990s, and in an indication of the level of community support she has generated over the years, in 2000, to protect WAMM against further harassment by Federal authorities, Santa Cruz County simply deputized Valerie and WAMM.
Wanda James and her husband Scott were the first African-Americans in the US to obtain a state-issued medical Cannabis dispensary license. The first “Simply Pure Dispensary” opened in Denver in 2010 and quickly included a cultivation facility and an edibles company - all groundbreaking accomplishments in the African-American community nationally. This work has led to the founding and leadership of the Cannabis Global Initiative, a medical Cannabis networking consultancy dedicated to fighting for veteran patients’ rights with a focus on PTSD.
Wernard Brunning is central to the evolution of the global Cannabis culture. Wernard founded the first Dutch coffee shop, “Mellow Yellow” in Amsterdam in 1973, which operated to international acclaim until it burned in 1978. After traveling the US West Coast and being inspired by what he saw and the growers he met, he returned to Amsterdam and in league with Ol’ Ed Holloway and others he founded the legendary “Green Team” that almost single-handedly created the Dutch Cannabis cultivation scene in the early-mid 80s. That led to his founding of “The Lowland Seed Company” in 1985, a business dedicated to seeing the new varieties of Dutch/American Cannabis seed propagated worldwide, and then to the founding “Positronics” (1985), a revolutionary Netherlands grow shop that met the full range of growers’ needs from seeds and clones to seminars and consulting - from genetics to equipment to knowledge.
Willie Nelson is a legendary Texas musician, poet and pool player who smoked his first joint in 1954, handed to him by a musician friend who suggested he “Get high and be somebody”, an old Jazz musician's blessing. He did; he surely did. There’s not much else that needs to be said in praise of Brother Willie except that he has helped us all feel like somebody.
Woody Harrelson is an actor and playwright loved for his long-running role in the iconic TV program “Cheers”. Woody’s film career is rich and diverse, playing characters from downright evil to heartwarmingly sympathetic equally well and always with a little trademark twist. He is a highly original Cannabis activist, known for creating positive publicity like an event he staged for TV in 1996 in Kentucky, where he dramatically planted four Cannabis (hemp) seeds in front of the cameras and dared the local Sheriff to arrest him. Which the Sheriff happily did, and then of course Woody was acquitted almost immediately. The Cannabis seeds he had planted really were legal hemp seeds, since this was all set up in Kentucky which has a long history of Hemp, but by then he had enough footage for some primo scenes in his new film “Hempsters: Plant The Seed”, plus some invaluable media coverage for Cannabis legalization. Not one of Woody’s more famous films, but one of the coolest send-ups of Cannabis criminalization ever. Woody is a generous friend to many people; for example he immediately posted Todd McCormick’s $500,000.00 bond and stood behind him after he was arrested for growing medical cannabis in 1997 and throughout his incarceration.
Yvonne DeLaRosa Green is an actress, artist and Cannabis activist who is celebrated for bringing upscale art and Cannabis together in her galleries in Venice Beach and Malibu. She was one of the first women to receive a Cannabis Business license in Los Angeles, and appears regularly in television and film including the iconic “Weeds”.Please comment on our Instagram page who you think should be added to this list.