WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, to recognize the rising visibility and importance of marijuana policy reform, the Marijuana Policy Project has released our first annual "Top 50 Most Influential Marijuana Users" list.
This collection spans multiple public spheres and illustrates the pervasiveness of marijuana use across all socio-economic groups.
The people on this list have become successful and influential while also being marijuana users, with the greatest threat to that achievement being the possibility of arrest.
The top 10:
1. President Barack Obama
2. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas
3. President Bill Clinton
4. Presdient George W. Bush
5. Michael Phelps
6. Newt Gingrich
7. Jon Stewart
8. George Soros
9. Bill Gates
10. George Clooney
See No. 11 through 50 here.
In order to have qualified for the list, each individual must (1) have tried marijuana at least once, (2) be alive, and (3) be living in the U.S. or be a U.S. citizen. We also asked our supporters to adhere to the definition for the "Power 50" list that's used by "Out" magazine, which employs the following criteria: "the power to influence cultural and social attitudes, political clout, individual wealth, and a person's media profile."
In sum, we're not concerned with an individual's popularity, or even whether he or she supports marijuana policy reform. Rather, the 2012 "Top 50 Most Influential Marijuana Users" list is meant to identify people who have used marijuana and achieved high levels of success or influence.
Public recognition of the need for marijuana reform has reached a tipping point, with over half of voters in support of taxing and regulating marijuana similarly to alcohol. The level of influence of past marijuana users will become especially important this November, when Colorado, Oregon, and Washington residents will get a chance to end criminal penalties for adult possession and establish regulations for sales in legitimate, licensed businesses in their states. There is the possibility that this issue could affect the presidential election in swing states like Colorado.