Hollywood has never shied away from cannabis use, and many stars speak openly about it on the red carpet and in interviews — whether it is legal in their state or not. Now, more female celebrities are feeling comfortable about talking about the benefits it brings to their lives and why they think it should be legalized in all 50 states.
It’s no secret that Whoopi Goldberg has long been a proponent of legalizing marijuana in her home state of New Jersey — she’s used it for everything from menstrual cramps to headaches. Understanding that there is “a middle ground between dire need and recreation,” she is a champion of “gradual decriminalization and legalization of cannabis” because she believes it “is critical to the well-being of our society,” per her 2018 op-ed for the OC Register.
Comedian Chelsea Handler, who released her own “America Is Back” Cannabis Kit for President Joe Biden’s inauguration day in 2021, wants the laws to change to give women the opportunity to embrace cannabis without the stigma. “My intention is to embolden and empower women to use cannabis the same way that men do. They don’t own this drug,” she told The Hollywood Reporter.
Goldberg and Handler aren’t the only celebrities leading the charge, find out who else is an advocate for legalizing marijuana across the U.S. — some of the names might just surprise you.
“I’m a recreational pot-smoker,” McDormand told High Times for her famous cover story in 2003. “From a medical point of view… I have friends who need to use it. Why should they have to look too hard for the thing that makes them better? So from that point of view, it’s like, ‘Please, what is the problem?’”
“It’s a human rights issue, a censorship issue, and a choice issue,” she added. “Unfortunately, I think a lot of people’s first experiences with marijuana and other drugs happen in a time of their lives that involves a lot of peer pressure.”
In 2019, Whoopi Goldberg wrote a USA Today column supporting New Jersey’s bill to legalize adult-use marijuana (the bill initially failed to pass, but New Jersey legalized cannabis in 2020, and opens a recreational marketplace in 2022).
“I am known as an outspoken proponent for legalization, a position that stems from the fact that I have been a marijuana user since my youth, when I discovered it was the only medicine that could relieve my crippling menstrual cramps without crippling the rest of my life. As I have grown older, and questionably wiser, I have maintained a healthy relationship with marijuana. I now use marijuana, through a vape pen, to relieve headaches from glaucoma,” Goldberg wrote.
“Our state, renowned for its tremendous diversity, has a problem. We have used low-level marijuana-related crimes to warehouse people, predominantly young African-American men, for simple possession or small-time sales. The ACLU of New Jersey has estimated that three times as many blacks are incarcerated because of marijuana than whites, even though both blacks and whites use marijuana at similar rates,” she continued. “Instead of waging war on our inner-city neighborhoods, legalization could also help us rebuild them.”
During her 2018 run for governor of New York, Sex and the City star Cynthia Nixon made it clear that marijuana legalization was an important part of her position.
“There are a lot of good reasons for legalizing marijuana, but for me, it comes down to this: We have to stop putting people of color in jail for something that white people do with impunity,” she said in a video shared to Twitter. “Ending the injustice of putting New Yorkers in prison for marijuana is a start. But we also have to correct past injustices, by expunging prior convictions — particularly for nonviolent offenders whose only convictions are for marijuana use.”
In 2021, comedian Chelsea Handler wrote a TIME piece titled “Marijuana Criminalization Has Always Hurt People of Color the Most. The Time for Reform Is Now,” in which she outlines how the war on drugs has always disproportionately targeted people of color and slams the hypocrisy of the growing legal cannabis industry in a country that still incarcerates some citizens for its use. She quotes Ferrell Scott, a man who received a life sentence for a nonviolent marijuana charge before his sentence was commuted by former President Donald Trump: “There is a whole marijuana industry. Some people distribute marijuana to get a life savings. I distributed marijuana and got a life sentence.”
“I don’t use cannabis myself, personally, but have been using CBD facial creams and body lotions. There are some very high-quality ones in the marketplace right now that I like, so we will also be working on [CBD-based] beauty products,” Martha Stewart said in 2019, per Forbes, discussing her new role advisor for cannabis company Canopy Growth. “By 2029, more than half of the U.S. population will be over 65 years old. And if CBD and cannabis can offer an alternative to other kinds of medicines—wow, how great will that be?”
“I’ve worked for over 10 years to be an advocate for plant medicine, specifically cannabis,” Etheridge told TIDAL in 2019. “I think cannabis is opening the doors to what is a new paradigm in how we think about health and medicine.”
“I went through my own health crisis 15 years ago with breast cancer, and tried to make choices to bring more joy in my life and bring more health and good food. To make those a priority,” she adds. “Plant medicine and the choice of strengthening my body, my mind and my emotions and how that leads to health, that’s really what I’m musically dancing around [in The Medicine Show].”
In 2021, Sarah Silverman joined a “Cannabis In Common” Campaign alongside Seth Rogen to spread awareness about legalization efforts and encourage voters to get involved with the issue.
“Americans can’t agree on anything, can we? Is it ‘gif’ or ‘jiff’? Are hotdogs sandwiches? Is wrestling a sport?” Silverman said in a campaign video. “Fortunately, there’s at least one thing most Americans have in common: more than two-thirds of us agree cannabis should be legalized, and we have a real shot at getting federal legalization done now if we speak up.”