Entrepreneurs are the driving force of the American economy, and their stories of hard work and sometimes even hardship are inspiring to say the least. Many of these business owners have used their successes for good (beyond the good that their products and services have already done).
The following entrepreneurs achieved incredible success. They also have consumed marijuana or are openly supportive of marijuana.
Steve Jobs was the world famous inventor and co-founder of Apple. He was born in 1955 in San Francisco, California. He was adopted (as he was born to graduate students). He didn’t find out about his birth parents until he was 27 years old. He was adopted and named by parents in California (the area that would become Silicon Valley).
Jobs grew up learning how electronics worked, pulling pranks in school, and testing extremely high. He met Steve Wozniak while Jobs was still in high school. Jobs enrolled in university but quickly dropped out, then became a video game designer for Atari. A few years later, in 1976, he started Apple with Wozniak.
Needless to say, the work of Jobs and Apple has had a lasting impact on the entire world (and continues to do so). The revolutionary products of Apple (namely the iPod, iPhone, and iPad) are now considered the drivers in technology evolution.
Jobs was actually phased out from the company in 1984 after the sales of the Macintosh computers were not as high as the executives wanted. Jobs left the company and started a new one called NeXT, Inc., as well as bought George Lucas’ animation company (the future Pixar Animation Studios). When Pixar merged with Disney in 2004, Jobs became Disney’s largest shareholder.
Jobs became Apple’s CEO again in 1997, and he brought new life to Apple. He was famous for taking a salary of only $1 per year.
Steve Jobs smoked marijuana regularly, at least during the time between 1973 and 1977. Specifically, he smoked at least once or twice a week. He apparently also smoked hashish several times.
Jobs died of pancreatic cancer in 2011.
Bill Gates is known for being one of the richest people in the world and the founder of the largest software business in the world, Microsoft. He was born in Seattle, Washington in 1955 and started learning about computer programming at the age of 13. Gates was always a competitor, specifically in sports and board games. This later helped him in the business world, of course.
He met his future business partner, Paul Allen, when he was still in high school. They got in trouble for messing with the computers at their school. The first computer program that Gates and Allen turned into a business was in 1970 when Gates was 15 years old.
By 1975, Gates and Allen formed their business, originally called Micro-Soft to combine “micro-computer” and “software” (but quickly changed to simply Microsoft). It didn’t start off too solidly, but Gates’ hard work and attention to detail made it what it became. He spread information about Microsoft’s software, using his mother’s executive connections to meet top dogs in the industry.
When Microsoft Windows was created in 1985, it revolutionized computer software and the company truly took off. Once he had achieved success, Gates began to venture into philanthropy. Now he is considered one of the leading philanthropists in the world.
Gates made it public knowledge that he voted in favor of legalizing marijuana in Washington State in 2012.
Martha Stewart is a cooking, decorating, and entertaining legend. She was born in 1941 in New Jersey and started her work life quite young. She became a model when she was 13 years old and worked in TV advertising, fashion shows, and print advertisements. Six years after she got married, graduated from Barnard College (1962), and had a child, she worked as a stockbroker until she and her family moved to Connecticut.
She taught herself gourmet cooking and began a catering business towards the end of the 1970s. She became well known and within ten years she had an excellent reputation and was serving famous people and business people alike.
Now an expert in the field, Stewart published her first book on entertaining (also titled Entertaining) in 1982. It very quickly became a bestseller, and she went on to publish more books after that.
She started her magazine, Martha Stewart Living, in 1991, and the expansion of her empire didn’t stop there. A website, radio show, newspaper column, more magazines, recipes, and more all fell under the Martha Stewart umbrella (Martha Stewart Omnimedia). She is worth $1.2 billion.
Martha Stewart also has ties with Cannabis and the culture of Cannabis. She has asserted that she knows how to roll a joint, and she has done a TV stunt with Snoop Dogg to bake pot brownies, to name just a couple of examples.
Ben Cohen & Jerry Greenfield
Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield are the co-founders of the incredibly popular Ben & Jerry’s ice cream company. They opened their first ice cream shop in Burlington, Vermont in 1978. They had taken a correspondence course in making ice cream through Penn State, and they began with a $12,000 investment ($8,000 of which was their own money).
The business was quite successful, so they started packing up their ice cream into pints in order to sell to convenience and general stores. The first franchise stored was opened in 1981 in Shelburne, Vermont. In 1988, Cohen and Greenfield were named the “U.S. Small Business Persons of the Year” by President Reagan.
Ben & Jerry’s has been focused on ethics and philanthropy from the start. By 1985, the Ben & Jerry’s Foundation was established. The foundation received out of pocket gifts from Cohen and Greenfield, as well as 7.5% of company profits. The company officially came out in 1989 as against an artificial growth hormone used on cows. They helped keep farmers on their land, joined the Children’s Defense Fund, partnered with Rock the Vote to stimulate voter turnout in 2004, protested oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in 2005, and upgraded to Fair Trade in 2006 (among other things).
Greenfield and Cohen have had their fair share of ties to marijuana, and they aren’t ashamed to admit it. They have recently given the green light to a weed-infused ice cream flavor. Greenfield has asserted that he and Cohen have “previous experiences with substances,” and he went on to say, “I think legalizing marijuana is a wonderful thing, rather than putting people in jail.”