Hugh Hefner, the legendary media mogul and founder of Playboy, died Wednesday, Playboy Enterprises announced. He was 91. While well known for inventing the archetype of modern man and as a figure in the sexual revolution, few know that Hefner also was an activist for cannabis.
In its early stages, Keith Stroup and his cannabis advocacy group The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) struggled with funding. But the Playboy Foundation, under the direction of Hefner, presented NORML with a $5,000 grant. Stroup had considered leaving his activism days behind and accepting a more mainstream job when he got the news.
As Stroup relayed on NORML’s 40th anniversary several years ago, Hefner’s grant proved pivotal for his cannabis advocacy group.
Hefner was also public on his own cannabis usage. He announced it to the world in 1980 in Patrick Anderson’s book High in America: The True Story Behind NORML and the Politics of Marijuana. “Smoking helped put me in touch with the realm of the senses,” Hefner said. “I discovered a whole other dimension to sex,” he would also add.
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His stance only strengthened later into his life, as Hefner made known his stance on the cannabis legalization.
“I don’t think there’s any question that marijuana should be legalized because to not legalize it, we’re paying the same price we paid for prohibition,” Hefner said in a 2010 Fox News interview. “In other words, it is a medical concern and it should be handled that way.”
His efforts for cannabis did not go unnoticed. On the day of his passing, Stroup wrote a blog post once again thanking Hefner for his contribution.
“Hefner was a fearless cultural crusader who believed deeply not just in the right to sexual freedom, but also in civil rights and the right to privacy,” he wrote. “May he rest in peace”