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High points in recent pot culture history

August 30, 2009|Adam Tschorn

1969

Tommy Chong hires improv comedian Richard "Cheech" Marin to perform between the bands and strippers at his family's Vancouver, Canada, night club. Nine years later, the godfathers of the stoner flick give birth to their first movie, "Up in Smoke."

1968-1970

Bill Clinton experiments with marijuana during this period while in England, but doesn't manage to actually inhale, thus preserving himself for a future stint as two-term occupant of the White House.

1974

Tom Forcade founds High Times magazine to do for drugs what Playboy did for sex -- complete with glossy pot-plant centerfolds.

1976

Reggae musician Peter Tosh releases his solo debut album, "Legalize It." The title track will become the de facto anthem of the marijuana legalization movement.

1982

"Fast Times at Ridgemont High" sets the Gen X stereotype in stoner with Sean Penn's bong-smoking, wave-catching surf rat Jeff Spicoli. Aloha, Mr. Hand!

1985

John Hughes' recipe for a classic: Take five high school stereotypes burning off a morning of detention, add one joint and mix well. The result is "The Breakfast Club," a movie sunny-side up on the bonding aspect of getting baked.

1992

Dr. Dre releases his first solo hip-hop album, "The Chronic," which takes its name from a slang term for high-quality weed and its cover art from a package of Zig-Zag rolling papers. The album gets high on the charts -- going triple platinum in its first year of release.

1993

Set on the final day of high school in 1976, Richard Linklater's "Dazed and Confused" was shamelessly pro-pot with tag lines that included "Weed rules" and "See it with a bud." Coincidentally, it's one of the last times anyone can remember seeing Matthew McConaughey wearing a shirt.

1996

California voters pass Proposition 215, making the Golden State the first state to allow the medical use of marijuana. By mid-2009, a dozen other states have passed similar measures.

2005

Showtime's "Weeds" gives the neighborhood drug dealer an extreme makeover -- and more than a dime bag of sympathy -- by introducing suburban soccer mom Nancy Botwin (Mary-Louise Parker), who turns to peddling pot after her husband dies.

August 2008

Pot comedy "Pineapple Express" opens; America gets a pot dealer who looks like James Franco. The movie goes on to make a smokin' $101.6 million at box offices worldwide.

November 2008

Michael Phelps, the most decorated gold medalist in Olympic history, shatters the stoner-slacker stereotype by being photographed smoking out of a water pipe at a party in South Carolina.

March 2009

At President Obama's webcast town hall meeting, the top-submitted question was about legalizing marijuana to help end the recession. The president's response against it crushes a collective buzz.

July 2009

Kalpen Modi, who as Kal Penn portrayed the stoner Kumar of "Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle" fame, heads to the White House to serve as associate director of the Office of Public Engagement. Minds can be heard blowing on college campuses around the country.

-- Adam Tschorn

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