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The Bay Area’s 10 Most Famous Stoners

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(Images: Death Row Records, Rolling Stone, Creative Commons)

Northern California is historically home to the best cannabis grown in the world, and everyone knows it. But the reason everyone knows it is that Northern California has also produced the coolest cannabis superstars of pop culture and politics who spread the good word about our great weed. Let’s take a look at the Bay Area’s contribution to this, with our most famous figures from music, sports, and activism who’ve served as cannabis ambassadors for our quality Northern California kind bud.

The Ohlone People

Image: Louis Choris via the Golden Gate Parks Conservancy

We acknowledge that the Bay Area is located on the unceded ancestral homeland of the Ramaytush Ohlone peoples who are the original inhabitants of the San Francisco Peninsula. As such, they were the first to grow and use cannabis on these lands.

“Understand our people did smoke,” Ohlone tribe member Joey Iyolopixtli Torres tells the San Jose State News. “We smoked, we exhaled spirit. It’s a very sacred thing that you all bring it back and now we break that stigma, that colonized way of, it being a ‘poison’ to us.”

Brownie Mary

Check out a young Bill O’Reilly in the above 1992 episode of Inside Edition, trying to do a hatchet job on “Brownie Mary” Rathbun that only succeeds in making her look more awesome. Brownie Mary was a frequent guest on daytime TV shows of the day, like The Maury Povich Show and Sally Jessy Raphael, changing the public face of cannabis activism to a sweet little old retiree in a polyester IHOP waitress uniform covered with oversize pot pins. As San Francisco’s patron grandmother of the HIV-positive population, Brownie Mary would bake 600 pot brownies a day, and distribute them through the AIDS and cancer wards at SF General Hospital.

Brownie Mary was arrested three times, generally for possession of 20 pounds or more. “I’ll go to jail for my cause, you’re damn right I will. I’ll go to jail for my cause, in a hot second,” she told Inside Edition.

What Would Brownie Mary Smoke?: Brownie Mary would not smoke, she’d have her a potent 100 mg Chocolate Fudge Brownie. And then she’d make another 600 pot brownies for her patients.

Dennis Peron

Image: Cary Newman via Wikimedia Commons

Along with Brownie Mary, Dennis Peron started the San Francisco Buyers Club in 1994 — not only the first cannabis dispensary in San Francisco, but the first one ever in the United States. (It was at Church and Market right next to what was then called The Transfer, and is now Churchill). Being that cannabis dispensaries were completely illegal at the time, Peron was raided twice, and police shot him once. The officer who shot him actually testified on the stands, under oath, “I should have killed you. There’d be one less faggot in San Francisco.”

“I’ve still got lead in me,” Peron said in late 2017, at age 72, in his final interview with SF Evergreen. He would die from cancer less than a month later. But as the co-author of Prop. 215, America’s first medical marijuana law ever passed in 1996, Peron rightly earned the title of “the father of medical cannabis.”

What Would Dennis Peron Smoke?: Considering Peron smoked many a joint with Jack Herer, a Jack Herer pre-roll might be his jay of choice today.

Too $hort

Image: Seher Sikandar via Wikimedia Commons

Fremont High alum Too $hort came from East Oakland where the youngstas get hyphy, and made a thousand songs that made you move your ass. But outside the recording studio, he was also highly involved with the political activism that helped pass Prop. 64, California’s landmark 2016 measure that created recreational cannabis as we know it today.

What Too $hort Smoked: As Too $hort himself said in 2010’s Still Blowin, “All I blow is kush, I don’t want no brown weed.” So clearly that man enjoys an OG Kush preroll on a not-infrequent basis.

Jerry Garcia

Photo by Carl Lender 

Sunshine truckin’ Grateful Dead guitarist and singer Jerry Garcia was an icon of two generation’s cannabis revolutions, both during the “Summer of Love” in the late 1960s and the “Phish and Dead Tour” era in the early 1990s. And Jerry did also live in the Grateful Dead house at 710 Ashbury Street from 1966 to 1968, though lucky for him and his future wife Mountain Girl, they were not home when police raided the place for marijuana in 1967.

What Would Jerry Smoke?: If Jerry were still alive today, he would still be dealing with a myriad of health problems, and we’d recommend he stick with topicals, tinctures, and cannabis tablets.

The Guys Who Coined the Term ‘420’

Image: 420Waldos

It is widely assumed the term ‘420’ has something to do with the Grateful Dead, which it does not, though one of the guys who invented the term did work some roadie work on Phil Lesh shows in Marin County. The fellows who invented this term were a group of four San Rafael High School students who called themselves The Waldos, and would meet to smoke weed at 4:20 every day at a certain prescribed location at the school. Their shorthand “4:20” eventually became a code word for smoking pot among many northern California deadheads, and the term would spread into an international phenomenon.

What Would the 420 Guys Smoke: Those Marin County stoners smoked outdoor, sun-grown cannabis from northern California’s legacy cannabis farmers. That’s the exact kind of flower you get from Flow Kana, whose sustainably grown, small batch cannabis is all organically farmed from the famed “grass” lands of northern California.

Every Rapper Who Ever Did an ‘I Got Five On It’ Remix

Image: Youtube

The 1995 cannabis consumption drug anthem “I Got 5 On It” brought the nation’s collective hip-hop attention to Oakland, Smokeland. The track defied the era’s trend of hip-hop artists bragging of great wealth and womanizing, and instead promoted a realistic but poetic voice of financially struggling stoners. Oakland-based duo Luniz were the first to light another joint like Cypress Hill with the original “I Got 5 On It,” plus a different “Reprise” version later on the same album. But other fools with them vacuum lungs would contribute legendary remixes, like the E-40, Richie Rich, Shock G,  Dru Down, and Spice 1 “Remix,” and the SoCal “I Got 5 On It” Remix with 2Pac, Snoop Dogg, Notorious BIG, Eazy E, Method Man, Nas, and Kid Cudi. The track and its orchestration would be brilliantly incorporated into the 2019 Jordan Peele thriller Us.

What Would the ‘I Got 5 On It’ Rappers Smoke: Surely these many artists have varying tastes in cannabis products. But Spice 1 is quite clear on his remix that he’s “Rolling up cannabis sativa, hitting the Mary Jane,” establishing with certainty that at least one of them prefers sativa flower.

Tim Lincecum

Image: Dirk DBQ 

The Freak, the Franchise, and Big-Time Timmy Jim won three World Series championships, two Cy Young awards, and led the league in strikeouts for three years in a row. And it was no secret the San Francisco Giants pitcher was getting high the whole time. After his 2009 misdemeanor possession of marijuana charge, Lincecum became a stoner hero to Giants fans, and the “Let Timmy Smoke” t-shirt was a Bay Area wardrobe staple. Lincecum would cement his spot in the Bay Area cannabis Hall of Fame when he told ESPN on live TV just after the Giants won the 2010 World Series, “There’s a lot of beer flowin’, smoke in the air I’m hopin’.”

What Would Timmy Smoke?: Lincecum’s 2009 arrest was for possession of an eighth-ounce and a glass bowl. So obviously, Tim Lincecum would smoke an eighth-ounce with a glass bowl.

Alice B. Toklas

Alice B. Toklas actually left San Francisco at the age of 29, well before she gained fame as a writer, though she leaves a powerful legacy here. And her famed infused brownies were not really brownies, and the recipe was not hers. According to Scientific American, the recipe came from her Moroccan-based painter friend Brion Gysin, and the recipe is actually for “hashish fudge.” Publishing house Harpers refused to run that recipe in the 1954 US release of The Alice B. Toklas Cook Book, though it was the most popular dish included in what would become one of the best-selling cookbooks of all time. They did include it in the second edition published here in the 1960s, popularizing the concept of marijuana brownies, and cannabis edibles in general.

What Would Alice B. Toklas Smoke?: Her brownies were actually fudge, so we will again speculate this historical figure would prefer a 100 mg Fudge Brownie.

Tupac Shakur

Tupac moved to Marin County when he was 16 and attended Mount Tamalpais High, before getting his break with Oakland hip-hop group the Digital Underground, then becoming one of the most influential rappers of all time and being inducted into the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame. Smokin’ weed was an everyday thing in his household, and Tupac is credited with introducing Snoop Dogg to blunts. He did not live to see a black President after his 1996 shooting, but his ashes were reportedly smoked in a blunt.

What Would Tupac Smoke?: Tupac loved to smoke his blunts, and in this day and age would probably prefer an infused blunt whose THC levels are higher than the peak of Mount Tamalpais.

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Joe Kukura- Millionaire in Training

Joe Kukura- Millionaire in Training

Joe Kukura is a two-bit marketing writer who excels at the homoerotic double-entendre. He is training to run a full marathon completely drunk and high, and his work has appeared in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal on days when their editors made particularly curious decisions.

1 Comment

  1. David Templeman
    August 25, 2021 at 1:17 pm

    I love the shout out to the Olone, however cannabis is not native to North America, and was brought by colonizers. So a minor correction to be made here. But yeah, our native predecessors get all the props for being respectful and responsible to our natural world, something colonists have yet to figure out.