With medical and recreational marijuana becoming legal in more states and mainstream, it’s kind of crazy to think about the lengths that people went to in the past to acquire a little weed (anyone remember ‘dime bags’??). This was especially true for celebrities. While today celebrities are very open about their usage and jumping on the weed biznaz bandwagon, it wasn’t always like this – not by a long shot! It’s no surprise that many of these celebs partook/partake, but the craziness of some of these stories are, well crazy! Let’s look back at some of the wild tales from the past …
David Bowie and Iggy Pop, 1976
While touring the US in support of his album, ‘Station to Station’, David Bowie had a little run-in with the law in the state of New York. After a concert in Rochester, NY Bowie had a quintessential ‘after-party’ at his hotel room. A friend and fellow ‘recreational pharmaceutical-using’ friend Iggy Pop was also at the party – as were several undercover policewomen. It seems the po-po in Rochester had their eye on Bowie who – at the time – was known to do cocaine and they figured there would be some of the white stuff at the soiree. In the wee hours of the morning, police detectives and investigators busted the party where a pound-and-a-half of marijuana was confiscated.
Always the smoothest of men, Bowie paid the bond for the four people arrested, including Iggy Pop, and went on to play that night in Springfield, Massachusetts! Rumor has he was greeted by dozens of suspected prostitutes awaiting arraignment while he was leaving the Rochester courthouse.
Bill Murray, 1970
It’s no secret that many of the cast members of Saturday Night Live used MJ and drugs – rumor has it, sometimes even while filming the iconic show! But long before his stint as a regular SNL cast member, Bill Murray was arrested for attempting to smuggle – get this! – nine pounds of marijuana on a flight from Chicago’s O’Hare airport. At the time Murray was studying pre-med at Regis College in Denver and with five bricks of weed on him, he seemed to be doing more than just the ganja!
Murray wound up dropping out of college before his weed arrest was made known to the school, thus avoiding an embarrassing expulsion. Given the overwhelming amount of success he’s had over the last five decades, we can’t say that we’re upset that he didn’t stick out at college! Only Bill knows for sure if he would’ve still gone the comedy route had he not been busted for weed and stopped school, but it’s kind of cool to think that if it wasn’t for the wonder-weed we wouldn’t have the Bill Murray we know today!
Neil Diamond, 1976
This one is crazy on many levels. Crazy detail #1: Neil Diamond – yes, that Neil Diamond – was busted for weed possession. Crazy detail #2: He wasn’t even at his LA home when it happened! Crazy detail #3: He was arrested for having less than an ounce of weed in his home (turns out the cops were actually looking for cocaine; something they had learned from an undisclosed informant. Crazy detail #3.5: Urban legends say that it was someone trying to throw a kink in Diamond’s permanent show in Vegas). Crazy detail #4: not only was he arrested but he had to attend a six-month drug education program!
Eventually, the charges were dropped, but it’s crazy to think that less than an ounce of weed could get you in that much trouble! Oh and crazy detail #5: Six years earlier Diamond recorded a peppy anti-drug tune called ‘The Pot Smoker’s Song’, which you have to hear to really appreciate how really crazy and weird it is.
Paul & Linda McCartney
Not once. Not twice. Not thrice. But five times Sir Paul has had problems with the po-po and his marijuana usage. Starting in 1972 while touring with his wife, Linda, McCartney was arrested in Göteborg, Sweden for having a small amount of cannabis on them and was fined a couple thousand dollars. Then in 1973, he was caught growing marijuana in his garden in a Scottish property he owed at the time. He claimed he didn’t know what the plant was (really??) and the Scottish police seemed to believe him – or maybe didn’t want to cause too much of a ruckus – and only gave him a small fine. Tempting fate again in 1975, the McCartney’s were pulled over in Los Angeles for running a red light. A ‘skunky’ smell prompted the police to search their car where they found a small amount of weed. As the story goes, Linda wasn’t driving so she took the fall and said the weed was hers. She was charged while Paul got away; charges were later dropped.
Still not learning from his mistakes, Paul’s luck ran out in Tokyo in 1980 where he was caught trying to bring in over seven ounces of weed through customs at the airport. The Japanese police and courts were not happy about this and jailed McCartney for nine days, forced him to cancel a series of sold-out shows and fined him nearly half a million dollars! Still, in 1980, the McCartney’s again ran into local trouble when they sold and were caught with marijuana in Barbados.
McCartney has since stopped smoking weed, saying that he wants to set a better example for people. And while we’re sure that his pot-smoking contributed to his incredible talent and creativity, we’re just happy that he’s still cranking out amazing music! His wife sadly passed away in 1998 from complications related to breast cancer.
George Harrison, 1969
Not to be outdone by his fell bandmate, George Harrison was arrested for weed possession on the day of Paul and Linda’s wedding! He missed the wedding and was fined about $300. Interestingly enough, the same police detective who raided his home and arrested him was the same detective who arrested John Lennon just the year before! It seems like this particular London officer had it out for the Fab Five … [scratch chin and ponders]
With MJ and medical marijuana so commonplace – especially in the US, reading these past stories seem to have a folklore spirit about them. Having less than an ounce in possession (at home, of course) for most heavy or longtime users is pretty crazy, much less getting busted for this small amount!
Times have changed and we’re loving it!