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Those That Came Before Us

The existence of cannabis use today would not be possible without the knowledge, work and sacrifices of those who came before us.

Joint Opinions

Those That Came Before Us

Learn the history behind cannabis through its thought leaders.

Before the advent of the cannabis industry there was the cannabis movement. The cannabis movement is represented by teachers, mentors, and activists while today’s cannabis industry highlights entrepreneurs, disruptors and innovators. The existence of cannabis use today would not be possible without the knowledge, work and sacrifices of those who came before us.

I recently spent an afternoon with Michelle and Michael Aldrich, two longtime activists who have not only made their own significant impact on the history of the movement, but who were also fortunate enough to have been exposed to impactful mentors and colleagues that joined them in shaping the history of the cannabis movement itself. My question to them was: Who should we make a point of remembering in our history who may not be as visible as some better known icons of the movement?” We spoke of far too many people to list, here are some for you to check out.

Scientists & Mentors

Robert Connell Clarke is the author of “Marijuana Botany.” Clark was skeptical about the existence of ruderalis until he collected botanical specimens from China. He defined difference between indicas and sativas in his book by referring to to Jean-Baptiste Lamarck (August 1, 1744 – December 18,1829) who gave us the classifications of indica and sativa separated as a separate species based on morphological grounds.

Richard Evans Schultes, who may be considered the father of modern ethnobotany, shared and taught activists in the movement about the botany and chemistry of cannabis at Harvard. Andrew Weil and Timothy Plowman, also notable figures in the marijuana movement, studied under him as well.

Activists & Artists

After James R White III started LeMar (Legalize Marijuana) in 1964 after the arrest of Lowell Eggemeier, Allen Ginsburg started an East Coast chapter of LEMAR with Ed Sanders and Michael Aldrich founded the first college chapter of LEMAR in 1966. In 1966 Ginsburg wrote his manifesto “The Great Marijuana Hoax.

Poet John Sinclair started the Detroit chapter of LEMAR and was sentenced to 9.5- 10 years in jail for giving two joints to an undercover officer in 1966. his plight inspired “The John Sinclair Freedom Rally” which brought out artists and activists alike such as John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Stevie Wonder, Allan Ginsberg and Bobby Seale.The protests and events decrying Sinclair’s incarceration contributed to the decriminalization of cannabis in Ann Arbor, Michigan and inspired the infamous annual Hash Bash.

These are just a few of the many people in academia, the arts, activists and those incarcerated that have made it possible for people like me to work with patients and for the movement and industry to evolve. We must keep the stories and teachings alive.

TELL US, who are your cannabis heroes?



  1. Norma Sapp

    July 8, 2019 at 3:38 pm

    Jack Herer!! We would not have uncovered all of this knowledge we have today without him!

  2. Adri

    March 14, 2017 at 3:51 pm

    Sara Payan rulez!

  3. Lawrence Goodwin

    March 3, 2017 at 5:06 pm

    I agree. Though I would humbly remind Sara Payan that there was no federal “marijuana” law for the first 150 years of United States history, allowing for a small but steady trade in cannabis products. Basically, the cannabis industry already existed but was then rudely suppressed. Prior to 1937, when “marihuana” madness was first imposed on our land by heartless federal bureaucrats, most American adults were free to grow however many cannabis plants they wished on their own private property. It’s been widely documented that cannabis hemp crops played a significant role in our country’s early agricultural wealth. Then, starting about 1850, extracts of seedless, female cannabis flowers were commonly prescribed as medicine by America’s doctors to soothe their patients’ maladies. The 80-year-old federal “marihuana” policy is one of the biggest frauds ever perpetrated—it most likely has wiped out hundreds of billions in legal cannabis commerce (comparable to alcohol and tobacco commerce), while being enforced aggressively to boost profits for synthetic chemical and pharmaceutical companies, plus fossil-fuel conglomerates. It really is a major scandal: wasting astronomical amounts of taxpayer dollars to destroy the cannabis industry by spreading fear through the media and shackling so many millions of Americans with criminal marijuana records, all out of sheer corporate greed.

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