Article by Anna del Gaizo, Prohbtd
Celebrities and cannabis go together like… actually, I don’t know what they go together like, and I don’t want to give you something lame like “peanut butter and jelly” or the less commonly used “vintage Krug and Osetra caviar,” which, might I add, is a delectable pairing. But I do know they have a longstanding love affair because celebrities are people and people love cannabis. They also sometimes get in trouble for their enthusiasm. Although, thanks to the singular positive outcome of the 2016 election, alternately known as our most abysmal nightmare come to fruition, now you simply can’t get arrested for it in California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada. Eight down, 42 to go. Without further digression, here are the most noteworthy, or ridiculous, celebrity cannabis busts ever, in no particular order:
1. Louis Armstrong
In 1930, Satchmo was about as cool as they come. The jazz icon also became the first “celebrity” to be caught smoking cannabis, which he referred to as “gage,” while smokers were nicknamed “vipers.” Armstrong said vipers were “anybody from all walks of life that smoked and respected gage,” and his 1928 song “Muggles,” which also became slang for the leaf, makes major reference to it. The trumpeter (and singer, composer and occasional actor) got arrested for smoking a joint outside the LA Cotton Club in Culver City, along with his pal/drummer Vic Berton. The two musicians apparently spent the night in jail laughing their heads off, too high to be released until the morning. They were sentenced to six-months jail time, which was later suspended, and received $1,000 fines.
Fun-ish fact: Armstrong was also an ardent laxative devotee and was known to extol the virtues of his favorite product, the herbal remedy Swiss Kriss, to his friends and family. So now you know that.
2. Flavor Flav
Remember Flavor of Love on VH1, back in 2006, when Flavor Flav gave perplexingly eager romantic prospects nicknames like Nibblez, Picasso and Like Dat? Before that, Flav, born William Drayton, was a member of Public Enemy, and on December 8, 1996, he also proved to be both a bicyclist and cannabis enthusiast. The New York Times reported that he was arrested in the South Bronx in the early morning hours whilst riding a bike. Officers from the Police Department’s Street Crime Unit stopped him because they saw a bulge in the pocket of his pants (guess they were looking closely) and assumed he was toting a weapon. But he wasn’t. He was packing two pounds of cannabis, which was enough to charge him with a felony, a fact heavily seasoned with the flavor of bullshit.
3. David Lee Roth
Washington Square Park is one of New York’s most quintessential and nostalgic locations for scoring drugs. Let’s take it back to April 16, 1993, when the former lead singer of Van Halen was on a lengthy hiatus from the band (he would return in 1996 for a single year and again in 2001) was caught prowling around the Greenwich Village park in search of—wait for it—a 10-buck bag of cannabis. That’s right, a measly $10 bag. A spokesperson for the NYPD asserted his so-called offense amounted to “less than a misdemeanor,” which means it held a maximum of 15 days in jails, along with a $250 fine. In the end, the joke of a case was “adjourned pending dismissal,” meaning the charges would be dropped entirely as long as he stayed out of trouble, and likely Washington Square Park, for a year.