Photo: Ralph Crane, Time & Life Pictures/Getty Image
Testing ... Testing ... Scientists (military and otherwise) have been pretty interested in testing the effects of marijuana throughout the decades, and states are entering a whole new kind of marijuana experiment. Legalization will certainly go down in the history books as a watershed moment in our culture's love/hate relationship with the demon weed ... er, cannabis.
In this gallery, we explore other surprising and historical marijuana moments in America (not chronological).
Photo: Ralph Crane, Time & Life Pictures/Getty Image
One of the big surprises in marijuana history has to be the moment that the majority of Americans said, What the heck, make it legal.
Gallup has been polling the marijuana legalization question for 40 years but found majority support for the first time in 2011, with 50 percent of voters in favor and just 46 percent opposed. Rasmussen reports that 56 percent support legalization.
Clearly that momentum was one of the forces that lifted both Initiative 502 here and Amendment 64 in Colorado onto the winner's podium in the 2012 elections.
Pictured is Alison Holcomb, Campaign Director for New Approach Washington and lead architect of I-502
In 1992, then Governor Bill Clinton of Arkansas, who was also the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, said in a television interview:
''When I was in England, I experimented with marijuana a time or two, and didn't like it. I didn't inhale and I didn't try it again.''
That statement - ''I didn't inhale'' - is another surprising moment, mostly because it was laughably unbelievable. But, no one really cared one way or another and that should have been a sign to politicians then that attitudes toward pot were changing.
Photo: RacingOne, ISC Archives Via Getty Images
President Obama didn't go in for that particular BS. Partly because he had already written about it, and so admitted it in 2006: ''When I was a kid, I inhaled. That was the point.''
The photo is of Obama in 1990 in the office of The Harvard Law Review after being named President of The Harvard Law Review.
Photo: Boston Globe, Boston Globe Via Getty Images
President Obama's past and his apparent desire to leave marijuana users alone led many to be surprised when federal agents began cracking down hard on medical marijuana growers and dispensaries. The feds said the arrested were doing more with their pot and money than serving medical patients.
Photo: U.S. marshals stand at the entrance of Oaksterdam University in Oakland, Calif., in 2012. The federal agents raided the medical marijuana training school at the heart of California's pot legalization movement.
Obama tried to clarify the issue in an interview with the Rolling Stone in April: ''The only tension that's come up – and this gets hyped up a lot – is a murky area where you have large-scale, commercial operations that may supply medical marijuana users, but in some cases may also be supplying recreational users. In that situation, we put the Justice Department in a very difficult place if we're telling them, ‘This is supposed to be against the law, but we want you to turn the other way.’ That's not something we're going to do.''
There are lots and lots of movies about marijuana and with marijuana moments. We've just picked a few that occurred in movies NOT about marijuana and scattered them throughout this gallery. After all, our cultural understanding and attitudes about marijuana must be influenced by our mass-culture representations of it.
One early movie with an overt marijuana moment was ''Easy Rider.''
Pictured is Dennis Hopper (Billy), Peter Fonda (Wyatt), wearing a stars-and-stripes helmet, with Jack Nicholson (George Hanson) wearing a gold football helmet, on the back of Fonda's motorcycle.
Wyatt and Billy introduce George to marijuana. George is an alcoholic but still has reservations about marijuana (''It leads to harder stuff,'' and ''I don't want to get hooked''), but he went for it anyway.
Photo: Silver Screen Collection, Getty Images
A semi-surprising marijuana moment was when Bill Murray gets Chevy Chase to give it a try in ''Caddyshack" in 1980.
That beat poet Allen Ginsberg was into marijuana surprised no one, but that he was able to pull off several pro-pot rallies - out in the open! - surprised and alarmed some citizens.
One of those pro-marijuana marches took place outside the Women's House of Detention on Sixth Avenue in lower Manhattan on Jan. 10, 1965.
Photo: Andrew Maclear, Redferns
Here's a poster with an audacious Ginsberg quote: ''The actual experience of the smoked herb has been clouded by a fog of unrespectability by the unthinking, unknowledgable few who have not smoked themselves and yet insist upon setting themselves up as centres of propaganda about the said experience.''
Photo: Sydney O'Meara, Getty Images
A surprising marijuana court win:
Robert Randall, called by some ''the Rosa Parks of the medical-marijuana movement,'' made legal and medical history in 1976 when he successfully sued the U.S government for access to cannabis, the only remedy that controlled his glaucoma.
The Huffington Post story (13 Key Moments In Marijuana History) reported: ''This landmark verdict compelled the Food and Drug Administration to establish a 'Compassionate IND [Investigational New Drug] Program,' which continues to distribute government-grown marijuana to a handful of medical necessity patients - while U.S. officials allege that cannabis lacks therapeutic value.''
Here's Randall at home smoking prescription marijuana to counter effects of glaucoma.
Photo: Terry Ashe, Time & Life Pictures/Getty Image
Another watershed marijuana moment was the passage of Proposition 215 in California.
That ''great leap forward'' came in 1996, when voters shocked the political and medical establishments by passing the proposition authorizing doctors to approve marijuana use by patients and not just for a shortlist of specified diseases, but also for "any other illness for which marijuana provides relief.
Pictured: A woman receives marijuana from the Cannabis Buyers Club on Dec. 26, 1996 in Los Angeles.
Photo: Gilles Mingasson, Getty Images
There have been many political and religious conservatives who have surprised us with their stance on marijuana.
Most recently, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), shown above, said this past Sunday: “Look, the last two presidents (Obama and George Bush) could conceivably have been put in jail for their drug use ... Look what would have happened. It would have ruined their lives. They got lucky. But a lot of poor kids, particularly in the inner city, don’t get lucky. They don’t have good attorneys. They go to jail for these things. And I think it’s a big mistake.”
Photo: T.J. Kirkpatrick, Getty Images
Barry Goldwater, called ''Mr. Conservative'' during his life and credited with sparking the resurgence of the conservative political movement in the 1960s, endorsed Arizona’s first effort at legalizing medical marijuana in 1996.
Side note: Voters approved the 1996 medical marijuana law and did it again in 1998, but the laws were never enacted due to some technicality or other. Then in 2002, voters rejected a sweeping initiative that would have decriminalized possession of up to 2 ounces of marijuana for any user and required state police to hand out the drug to seriously ill people.
Photo: John Dominis, Time & Life Pictures/Getty Image
Brief movie intermission (go ahead and grab some popcorn ...):
In ''American Beauty,'' Kevin Spacey's character is miserable and depressed and all closed up inside until he starts smoking marijuana and working out. He becomes happy and independent minded. He gets shot in the head in the end, but not because of the pot.
That seemed surprising. In a movie not specifically about stoners or pot-positive culture, the fairly positive message about marijuana was unique.
Photo: Getty Images
The two bookends here, Wes Bentley and Mena Suvari, were the tempters - one with marijuana and the other with .... well, you remember the movie. That's Thora Birch in the center. We disapprove of her decision to run off and live with a dealer! She was just a minor, after all.
Photo: Getty Images
Back to politics:
Conservative broadcaster Glenn Beck, shown here near the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City in 2011, said - ''I think it's about time we legalize marijuana. ... We either put people who are smoking marijuana behind bars or we legalize it, but this little game we are playing in the middle is not helping us.''
Beck was one of many conservatives in recent years to support legalization in a backhanded, sidedoor sort of way. Others were Rick Perry, Bill O’Reilly and Tea Party funder David Koch.
Photo: Uriel Sinai, Getty Images
The Rev. Pat Robertson is slightly different than the previously mentioned conservatives for coming straight out against the war on drugs.
The New York Times reported him saying in March 2012:
''I just think it's shocking how many of these young people wind up in prison and they get turned into hardcore criminals because they had a possession of a very small amount of a controlled substance'' Robertson said on his show March 1. ''The whole thing is crazy. We've said, 'Well, we're conservatives, we're tough on crime.' That's baloney.
''I really believe we should treat marijuana the way we treat beverage alcohol,'' Robertson told the Times. ''If people can go into a liquor store and buy a bottle of alcohol and drink it at home legally, then why do we say that the use of this other substance is somehow criminal?''
He's shown here talking with his son Tim during a tribute slide show prior to the funeral of Rev. Jerry Falwell at the Thomas Road Baptist Church in 2007 in Lynchburg, Virginia.
Photo: Pool, Getty Images
In ''Poltergeist,'' Craig Nelson and JoBeth Williams talk about their proposed three-meter-high diving board during a marijuana moment apparently designed to show them as open minded, albeit conservative (note the cover of the book), money-grubbing suburbanites.
... they laugh and laugh and mime jumping off the board and no trouble comes from the marijuana. The only trouble they have are the dead people buried under the house.
In the realm of science:
Raphael Mechoulam and his colleague Yechiel Gaoni at the Weizmann Institute of Science created a momentous marijuana moment in the 1960s when they isolated, analyzed and synthesized the main psychoactive ingredient in the cannabis plant, tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. Later, Professor Mechoulam deciphered the cannabinoids native to the brain.
Despite one arm of the federal government saying marijuana has no medicinal value and should remain illegal, another arm of said government awarded the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services a patent titled "Cannabinoids as Antioxidants and Neuroprotectants" in October 2003.
On to the local advocates of legalizing marijuana - many of whom are surprising backers since they are on the side of prosecution and law enforcement.
But first up is Seattle travel guru Rick Steves. Locally we weren’t too surprised that he put his name, company and reputation on the line to back marijuana legalization, but nationally people were sort of struck by it. In one interview last year, the Huffington Post was pretty curious about why a travel writer and successful businessman would stick his neck out for pot.
Steves said: ''I got involved because I am a rare celebrity that's got the balls to speak out on this truth issue. A lot of people are just afraid that it's going affect their business and so I just think, I'm lucky, I don't need to be elected. I can't be fired.''
Pete Holmes, currently employed as the attorney for the city of Seattle and charged with the duty of prosecuting lawbreakers ... was one of I-502's sponsors. That was after he had already made it clear that he would follow the will of Seattle voters and not prosecute any misdemeanor marijuana possession cases
“With regulation of production and sales and aggressive prosecution of marijuana DUIs, we can focus our limited resources on fighting marijuana-related problems where they have direct negative impacts on our communities and not on throwing people in jail for using a substance that isn't more dangerous than alcohol,” he said on the I-502 campaign page.
Quick movie break:
We all knew that some soldiers in the Vietnam War used marijuana ... but Oliver Stone's ''Platoon'' pushed his positive notions about marijuana into the foreground of his movie about the terrors of that war.
Another surprising backer of legalizing marijuana in Washington has to be former U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Washington John Mckay.
Appointed by former conservative president George Bush, McKay became a sponsor of I-502, ''because marijuana prohibition has failed and Congress and the legislature must act to eliminate the danger to public safety posed by the enormous American black market. Unless states act to regulate, control and decriminalize most uses of marijuana, Congress will continue to ignore the law enforcement danger and assert federal criminal laws that ill serve the public,'' he said on the I-502 campaign site.
Photo: Ron Wurzer, Getty Images
Bizarre movie marijuana moment: In ''Transformers 2,'' this mother gets out of control because of a pot brownie.
There are more backers of legal marijuana that are surprising given their background, it seems to us, but we'll end with former Seattle Police Chief Norm Stamper.
Stamper was responsible for Seattle's response to the protests of the WTO Ministerial Conference of 1999, which blew up in just about every bad way it could have (though thankfully no one died) and that eventually led to his resignation.
From there, Stamper wrote a book called ''Breaking Rank: A Top Cop's Expose of the Dark Side of American Policing.''
And, he not only backed I-502 but is also an advisory board member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) and The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML).
We close out with a very surprisingly busy poster announcing the 1967 rally for cannabis in Hyde Park, London.
Finally, a tip of the hat to the big, surprising, mega-marijuana event in Seattle (the world): Hempfest.
Pictured: Rainy Collins holds up a sign during Seattle's Hempfest pro marijuana gathering at Myrtle Edwards Park on the Seattle waterfront on Friday, August 17, 2012.
Fairfield County is home to three of Connecticut's five most marijuana-minded municipalities, according to an online resource positioning itself as the Yelp of pot.
Residents of Stamford, Westport and Fairfield ranked third, fourth and fifth respectively in terms of driving traffic to Leafly.com. New Haven came in first and Hartford second.
All told, the state's appetite for pot-related information has mushroomed 170 percent over the past year.
The report placed Connecticut 29th in the U.S. this past year in terms of residents visiting Leafly, which hails itself as the "world's largest cannabis information resource."
Globally, the company's website and recently added mobile app drew 3.5 million visits this March, an increase of 130 percent over last March, the company said.
The company declined to disclose to Hearst Connecticut Media the actual number of visitors that came from each state.
Founded in 2010, the Seattle-based Leafly was acquired a year later by Privateer Holdings, a private-equity fund focused exclusively on businesses in the legal cannabis field.
Leafly lets visitors access over 70,000 reviews of more than 650 strains of cannabis, whose different properties produce various effects on users and can help treat a range of ailments. The website also lets visitors locate medical marijuana dispensaries, cannabis collectives and delivery services in the U.S., Canada, Israel, Holland, Spain and Belgium.
Privateer Holdings was founded by Yale School of Management alumni Brendan Kennedy and Michael Blue. Previously, Blue had worked at a small Greenwich investment bank called de Visscher and Co., which he credits with sharpening his investment savvy.
"While working in Greenwich for an investment bank, I developed the ability to analyze a large number of potential deals on a daily basis," Blue said in an email to Hearst Connecticut. "This skill is critical in my current endeavor as I review the many opportunities in the emerging legal cannabis industry."
Snapshot of demand
The Leafly report, in addition to showing the relative popularity of the site in terms of geography, offers a window into the desires of people who are seeking information of pot.
For example, Connecticut visitors most frequently cite cancer as the debilitating condition for which they are seeking help. That's followed by anxiety, multiple sclerosis, arthritis and migraines.
Across Connecticut, there are 151 physicians who are registered to certify patients for medical marijuana and 1,990 patients so far certified to use it, said Claudette Carveth, spokeswoman for the state's Department of Consumer Protection. Such patients must suffer from one of 11 debilitating conditions agreed upon by the state for medical marijuana use.
In fact, three of the top five conditions listed by Connecticut residents on Leafly -- anxiety, arthritis and migraines -- are not on the state's list, though there is an appeal process in this state to add other ailments.
Read Full Article
In descending order of frequency, Connecticut residents also listed insomnia, lack of appetite, depression, headaches and pain as symptoms they are trying to treat.
The top five "effects" Connecticut residents were seeking are "energetic," "euphoric," "happy," "sleepy" and "giggly."
The top five strains of cannabis sought out by Connecticut residents were "Blue Dream," "Sour Diesel," "Girl Scout Cookie," "Green Crack" and "Granddaddy Purple."
Not surprisingly, the country's most-populous state, California, topped the list of states whose residents most visited the site over the past year. Then came Texas, Washington, Colorado and New York.
In terms of countries, the U.S. came in first, followed by Canada, U.K., Germany, Australia, Netherlands, Sweden, France, Italy and Finland.
Overall, anxiety ranked as the top medical condition for which U.S. patients were seeking treatment followed by ADD/ADHD, post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder, migraines, gastrointestinal disorder, arthritis, cancer, fibromyalgia and premenstrual syndrome.