49% of Americans have said they have tried marijuana at some point in their life. With almost half of the people in the country having indulged in cannabis use, it would lead one to believe that an influential figure or two would be a part of this group.  Well, your intuition is correct. From past presidents to a multi-billionaire TV personality, the use of cannabis can be found in multiple areas of American culture.

8 Famous People Who Tried Cannabis

U.S. Presidents

The 14th President of the United States, Franklin Pierce, smoked marijuana with his troops when serving as a general in the Mexican-American War.  In a letter to his family, he would write that smoking marijuana was “about the only good thing” about the war. That President Pierce was a fan of the magic herb may endear some readers to Pierce, it is important to point out that he held an unfavorable view of the abolitionist movement and is usually ranked by historians as one of the worst presidents in U.S. history.

More recently, the 44th president of the United States, Barack Obama, has publicly shown support for cannabis while admitting to past use of the drug.  “I inhaled frequently,” Obama said in a 2006 interview. “That was the point!”  He has been quoted saying that marijuana should be treated like “cigarettes or alcohol.” (Obama’s position stands in stark contrast to former President Bill Clinton who famously quipped that while he tried marijuana, he “didn’t inhale.”)


Carl Sagan: astrophysicist, astrobiologist, author, marijuana advocate.  Born in 1934, he appeared to be years ahead about his views on marijuana.  Sagan, who used marijuana to boost his creativity, questioned the war on drugs and the stigmatization of a drug that he viewed as having beneficial qualities.

Nobel prize winning physicist Richard Feynman briefly experimented with marijuana in a sensory deprivation tank to study his own consciousnesses. Feynman was renowned for his contributions to the field of quantum mechanics and assisted in the creation of the atomic bomb.


The most decorated Olympic athlete of all time, Michael Phelps, faced public scrutiny in 2009 when a photo emerged of him smoking from a bong.  The swimmer, who has 28 medals, 23 of which are gold, admitted to the legitimacy of the photo and was suspended for 3-months from USA swimming.

Heisman Trophy winner and all-pro running back Ricky Williams is well-known for his marijuana use.  Williams lost an estimated $5 to $10 million due to an NFL career halted by failed drug tests.  He is now planning on opening a cannabis friendly gym that allows members to “smoke marijuana or ingest edibles, then work out, take yoga and meditation classes, undergo acupuncture, or get massages.

Public Figures

Former TV personality and current CEO of Harpo Productions, Oprah Winfrey, has publically admitted to smoking weed in the past.  With an estimated net-worth of nearly $3 billion dollars, Winfrey is regarded as one of the most influential women on television.

Beloved Oscar-winning actor Morgan Freeman is known for his soothing voice and tremendous acting skills.  A lesser-known trait of Freeman is his passionate advocacy for marijuana legalization. He uses marijuana to reduce his fibromyalgia pain and has said: “I’ll eat it, drink it, smoke it, snort it!”.

If public opinion of cannabis continues to improve we are likely to see more people open up about their use of it.  Many bright and talented individuals have admitted to cannabis use, and as more people speak up about the benefits of its use the less the drug will be stigmatized.