Hugh Hefner, the iconic founder of Playboy died last week (27 September 2017) at the age of 91.
Obviously, he is known around the world for ‘commercialising sex’ and for his infamous Playboy Mansion, however, he also used to be a committed vocal advocate for cannabis until his death last week and the cannabis community surely going to miss his support.
When Keith Stroup, the founder of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) was trying to find investors for NORML in 1970, he was facing rejection after rejection.
That was until a friend recommended pitching the idea to the Playboy Foundation. Hefner did turn out to be interested and after spending some time with Mr Sroup, they wrote a $5,000 check to help to kick NORML off.
Hefner kept supporting NORML over the years, with as much as $100,000 a year at some point and he also spoke up for marijuana reform.
“Hefner had been someone who used to be an alcohol drinker but he had given up alcohol some time ago and had become a marijuana smoker … so he had a personal interest in the issue and understood that it should be legal, it’s better for people than alcohol.”
Mr Stroup said as he reflected back on the early days of NORML.
“Smoking helped put me in touch with the realm of the senses.”
Being a vocal supporter of cannabis in the 70’s didn’t go without getting on the radar. Hefner and his Playboy empire were subject to a phoney federal narcotics investigation that went on for years and ended with the suicide of Hefner’s 34 years old executive secretary.
He witnessed in his lifetime many states in the US change their cannabis policies and open adult use cannabis markets and witnessed the stigma slowly changing around the world.
Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, has revealed that he was responsible for bringing the Playboy magazine to Australia.
Speaking to a local morning show on Friday (29 September 2017), Mr Turnbull shared that he was a young lawyer, working for Kerry Packer when Packer sent him to Chicago for 3 weeks to negotiate launching the Aussie version of Playboy.
“Kerry Packer sent me over to Chicago in ’78 to negotiate the licensing deal for Playboy in Australia so I spent about three weeks there – but not in the Playboy mansion,” Turnbull said on the Today show.
Unfortunately, for him and perhaps for Australia, Turnbull apparently never made it to the Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles.
“I went to Chicago, in those days Hugh Hefner had already moved to LA, but his daughter Christie was running the company and I negotiated with her in their office building and we got the deal done there… I was a very focused young lawyer just doing my job, and as you know in the following year – I think ’79 – Kerry launched the Australian edition of Playboy.”
Mr Turnbull said to the host of the show.
Apparently, Turnbull negotiated the deal with Christine, Hefner’s daughter and has not spent much time with the man himself.
Had he spent some time with him, some of the passion Hefner had might have rubbed on the Aussie Prime Minister and he perhaps would be more open to the overwhelming evidence of the effectiveness and safety of medical cannabis. And perhaps he could be even open to the emerging evidence of how adult use cannabis programs deliver social and economic benefits to every region in the world that experiences with it.
Who knows, after all perhaps even spending time in the Mansion, rubbing shoulders with Hefner would not have made any difference. His attention might have had been elsewhere, other than on the jars of buds.
Hefner had done a lot of good for cannabis in the US, and even though Malcolm has not brought back his passion for the plant, (we got Playboy instead), Hefner’s influence on cannabis can surely be felt.