The movement for marijuana legalization across the United States is ongoing, but it's clearly gaining traction as more states continue to legalize for medical and recreational use. In the process, advocates for pot legalization have continued to speak publicly about the issue — some of which have been more surprising than others.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the list of said advocates includes a plethora of musicians. Among them, here are seven artists of varying genres who are open about their marijuana use, and, in some cases, credit it with aiding in their creative process.
Sting: The former bassist of The Police (not the WWE Sting) penned an op-ed for the Huffington Post in 2010 titled "Let's End the War on Drugs." In it, Sting condemns the attempts to stifle drug use in America, instead pointing out that it has allowed violent crime to thrive within impoverished neighborhoods. Similarly, he writes that minor drug offenses have filled prisons for "exorbitant lengths of time."
"President Obama has openly said the Drug War is a failure," Sting wrote. "Legislation to decriminalize marijuana is pending on Capitol Hill. But success is far from guaranteed. Indeed, the echoes of the old politics of intimidation and demagoguery that have long surrounded the War on Drugs can still be heard. We must all work to ensure this issue becomes a priority and is acted upon in a meaningful and sensible way."
Snoop Dogg: So, this one might not be that surprising, but Snoop Dogg is an advocate for smoking weed (he even has his own brand). The rapper has gone on the record about marijuana use on several occasions, and has topped that off with several TV and movie appearances under a similar guise.
Perhaps his most memorable marijuana quote, though, came from a 2008 interview with Esquire, in which he shares a story about the first time he smoked pot. "The first time I got high off marijuana was in the '70s, with one of my uncles," he said. "They had these little roaches on the table — these part-way-smoked marijuana cigarettes — and there was some Schlitz Malt Liquor Bull. I went in there and sipped the Schlitz, and my uncle asked me did I wanna hit that roach. And I was like, 'Yeah.' He put it on the roach clip for me and lit it up, and I hit that motherfucker. I was about 8 or 9 years old."
Lady Gaga: The eccentric artist has made it clear that she doesn't want to condone drug use — particularly for her younger fans — but Lady Gaga is honest about her marijuana use and its benefits for her. Namely, that she smokes it when she's writing her music.
"I smoke a lot of pot when I write music," Gaga said on CBS' 60 Minutes in 2011, according to USA Today. "So I'm not gonna, like, sugar coat it for 60 Minutes that, you know, I'm some, like, sober human being 'cause I'm not ... I don't want to encourage kids to do drugs. But when you asked me about the sociology of fame and what artists do wrong — what artists do wrong is they lie. And I don't lie. I'm not a liar. I built goodwill with my fans. They know who I am. And I'm just like them in so many ways."
Clearly, marijuana use did not deter her from making the most of her career, as she became the first artist to perform at the Super Bowl, Grammys and Academy Awards in the same year.
Jay Z: Like Lady Gaga, the iconic rapper has been on the record about smoking weed to help with his creative process. Specifically, in an interview with XXL, Jay Z said that it actually helped him wrap up "Izzo," the first single from his 2001 album The Blueprint.
"That record was maybe the last one," he said, according to XXL. "I was touching it, then I'd leave it alone. That record was, like, a process. I remember ... I don't smoke that much ... Well, my man who sold weed and shit came, and he said, 'Man, you need — man, just smoke some weed.' I smoked some weed, and that's how I finished 'Izzo.'"
Tony Bennett: He's had his own drug problems in years past, but Tony Bennett has shared his own insights on drugs as a whole with regard to legalization. With many of his peers falling victim to drug abuse — often times leading to death — he had some controversial comments in 2012 prior to the Grammys.
"First it was Michael Jackson, then it was Amy Winehouse and now the magnificent Whitney Houston," Bennett said, according to the Huffington Post. "I'd like to have every gentleman and lady in this room commit themselves to get our government to legalize drugs. So they have to get it through a doctor, not just some gangsters that sell it under the table."
His comments should be seen as cautionary more than anything else, but it also tackles an important moral quandary on how we should treat those addicted to drugs. "As Russell Brand did after we lost Amy Winehouse, Tony Bennett has shown that it is possible to speak about reforming drug laws in a way that resonates with people," Neill Franklin wrote for the Huffington Post. "With their help, and hopefully with the help of all the other ladies and gentlemen in the room at the pre-Grammys party, we can and will remove the criminal stigmatization for people struggling with addiction."
Carlos Santana: The most famous Carlos Santana (sorry Cleveland Indians' Carlos Santana), the classic rock legend has openly supported marijuana use, and has even made an impassioned plea to President Barack Obama to consider legalization. In a video interview with the Associated Press from 2009, the artist asks that Obama legalizes marijuana, along with two other important changes during his presidency.
"Bring the brothers home and the sisters home [from war] now, legalize marijuana, and take all that money and invest it in teachers and education," Santana said. "And you will see a transformation of America ... I'm not afraid to say what I think is way overdue."
John Legend: Legend has advocated for many important causes before — such as ending mass incarceration — and he's similarly passionate about legalizing weed. Speaking in a HuffPost Live appearance in 2013, the artist broke down his reasoning to support marijuana legalization.
"There's no good reason to continue prohibition, and we need to consider ending prohibition in general," Legend said. "I don't know if prohibition has ever been an effective way of getting people not to use banned substances. They find a way to use them, criminals find a way to sell them, and a lot of people get killed. A lot of communities get destroyed because of the black market that comes up, because people want something and they find a way to get it."