The Cannabis-Music Connection: 16 Legendary Musicians Influenced by Cannabis

Cannabis has been lifting artists into the upper stratospheres of music innovation for decades.

“It’s an assistant, a friend”- Louis Armstrong 

Weed, grass, chronic, reefer. No matter what you call it or how you roll it, cannabis is a muse that sparks musicians’ creativity. 

After all, music and weed go hand-in-hand. The mind-opening qualities of cannabis have permanently changed the musical and cultural landscape. 

But we’ve come a long way from the days when cannabis was illegal and relegated to the hip, underground early-jazz hotspots and the sunny fields of the 60s counterculture. Today, cannabis is a widely accepted medicinal and recreational plant that inspires countercultural heroes, artists, and musicians. 

Let’s take a look at 16 trailblazing cannabis-friendly musicians.

Willie Nelson

No list of cannabis-consuming musicians is complete without the red-headed stranger. An outspoken cannabis advocate, Willie became the first megastar to endorse the plant when most wouldn’t publicly.

Cannabis helped Willie break his whiskey and cigarette addiction in 1978. A move he says saved his life. 

Willie doesn’t consume inhalable cannabis today, but he’s still a consumer (edibles). And he also has a cannabis brand (Willie’s Reserve) bearing his name.

“It saved my life, really. I wouldn’t have lived 85 years if I’d have kept drinking and smoking like I was when I was 30, 40 years old. I think that weed kept me from wanting to kill people. And probably kept a lot of people from wanting to kill me, too – out  there drunk, running around.” – Willie Nelson

The Beatles

The Beatles’ scope of influence and impact on modern music is incalculable. And at the height of Beatlemania, the band was smoking copious quantities of weed. 

And you can see its impact on their songwriting. 

The songwriting styles evolved between the release of Help! and Rubber Soul. Their music mellowed and became more introspective, and several Beatles hits became cannabis anthems, like “Got To Get You Into My Life” and “With A Little Help From My Friends.”

What would music look like today if Bob Dylan hadn’t introduced weed to The Beatles? 

“Brian and The Beatles looked at each other apprehensively. ‘We’ve never smoked marijuana before,’ Brian finally admitted. Dylan looked disbelievingly from face to face. ‘But what about your song?’ he asked. ‘The one about getting high?’ The Beatles were stupefied. ‘Which song?’ John managed to ask. Dylan said, ‘you know…’ and then he sang, ‘and when I touch you I get high, I get high.’ John flushed with embarrassment. ‘Those aren’t the words,’ he admitted. ‘The words are, ‘I can’t hide, I can’t hide, I can’t hide…’” – Peter Brown, The Love You Make

Bob Dylan

Speaking of Bob. 

The prolific folk-rock troubadour has found inspiration in cannabis throughout his music career. He wrote many songs while under its influence, including the protest anthem, “A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall.”

Dylan says he doesn’t consider cannabis a drug. He views the plant as a mind-altering medicine. 

And his controversial song, “Rainy Day Women #12&35,” with the lyrics “everybody must get stoned,” is a counterculture stoner anthem. 

Is it a coincidence that when you multiply 12 by 35, you get 420? We don’t think it is.

Bob Marley

Cannabis wasn’t recreational for the reggae pioneer–it was religion. It was a holy sacrament and a spiritual tool that fueled his passionate, fiery, yet laid-back Jamaican rhythms. 

Marley and others in the Rastafarian religion so revered ganja that the plant’s condemnation was considered sinful. Today, Bob Marley is so synonymous with cannabis culture that posters of him burning a joint have become a college dorm room staple.

His reggae sounds changed the face of global music, and his cannabis advocacy helped change people’s perspectives.

“Kaya,” the name of his 1978 album, is the Jamaican word for cannabis/hemp.

Cypress Hill

You can probably thank the West Coast hip-hop trio Cypress Hill for the popularity of bud leaf-emblazoned swag. That and bucket hat-wearing adults.

Cypress Hill is all about getting blunted, and their stoned fusion of funk, rap, and rock music perfectly conveys that feeling.  

In a time when anti-drug campaigns and slogans like “Just Say No,” demonized cannabis, Cypress Hill unashamedly endorsed the plant. And it’s for this reason that we owe them a debt of gratitude. Because without Cypress Hill, there’s a good chance we wouldn’t have a legal cannabis industry today.

Snoop Dogg

What’s there to say about weed and Snoop D-O-Double G that people haven’t said already?

Everyone knows Snoop has an affinity for smoking weed (can you name a music video where he doesn’t light a blunt?), and like Willie Nelson and Bob Marley, the hip-hop pioneer has been an outspoken advocate for years. 

He even turned cannabis into a lucrative revenue source by introducing a cannabis product line. Leafs by Snoop is an herbal vape pen he designed, and he has a website devoted to cannabis culture.

David Bowie

The consummate chameleon and rock icon David Bowie had a long cannabis history (check out Bowie’s weed-bust mugshot here). He was a cannabis advocate until he died in 2016. 

Long before he became Ziggy Stardust, Bowie was a struggling folk artist until cannabis-inspired him to complete his first #1 hit, “Space Oddity.”

Later in his life, while most everyone was unaware of his cancer diagnosis, he was vocal in supporting his daughter-in-law’s use of cannabis to treat the effects of breast cancer chemotherapy treatment.


The oddball experimental alt-rockers have never been shy about their enthusiasm for weed, even going so far as to pay tribute to the plant and the stoner-culture that comes with it in lo-fi songs like “Weed Whore”,” Pass the Bong,” Puffy Cloud,” and “I Smoke Some Grass (And Get Really Really High)”

Recently, Dean Ween ventured into opening a 420-friendly music venue named Honeypot Lounge on Denver’s famous “Green Mile.” As of this writing, the venue is permanently closed.

Jimi Hendrix

Forever expanding the electric guitar’s language, Jimi Hendrix’s sonic explorations, spacey feedback, and roaring distortion have long been associated with consciousness-expanding substances. 

Despite succumbing to a barbiturate overdose at the young age of 27, Hendrix was particularly fond of cannabis.   

While never publicly admitting that his classic “Purple Haze” was explicitly about drugs (Jimi was always under scrutiny with the law for drug use/possession), the seminal track would go on to launch the revolutionary 60s psychedelic era.

Butthole Surfers

Texas cosmic freak-punks, the Butthole Surfers, are well known for their weed love (along with other substances). The rockers went from 80s cult grunge movement catalysts to left-field chart-toppers with the meteoric success of their 90s hit “Pepper.” 

The cover of their album Cream Corn from the Socket of Davis celebrates cannabis. According to guitarist Paul Leary, the band would often hit bongs filled with “dirt weed” for dinner. 

Frontman Gibby Haynes has expressed his desire to see weed federally legalized. However, he has noted that it should be used responsibly, like alcohol.

Happy Mondays

When founding the legendary Manchester group, Happy Mondays, frontman Shaun Ryder said he wanted to bring back Keith Richards’ stoned spirit, even going on Piers Morgan to discuss his love for the plant. He links cannabis to creativity, saying that he’d blaze when he was young, and it opened his ears. 

Bass player and founding member Paul Ryder has recently become a serious advocate on the health benefits of cannabis. His son, Chico, is in remission from soft tissue cancer thanks to the cannabis treatments he helped administer.


The provocative icon and Queen of Pop is a global phenomenon that has made a social-cultural impact through her music, fashion, and lifestyle. She has also been an activist at the forefront of the pro-cannabis movement.

She has openly admitted in interviews to smoking pot recreationally as it fuels and enhances her creative process. Just recently, Madonna was spotted in Jamaica on her 62nd birthday smoking a spliff over a tray of pot and rolling papers.

Brian Wilson

It should be no shock that the person behind some of the haziest, feel-good Southern Californian music of the 60s was into cannabis.

The legendary co-founder of The Beach Boys, Brian Wilson, has gone on record saying that he found inspiration for his magnum opus Pet Sounds while high. Wilson smoked weed after listening to The Beatles Rubber Soul and was so moved that he went to his piano to craft the gorgeous masterpiece (and best selling single) “God Only Knows.”

The famous recluse has indicated that he is all for cannabis legalization, but as a recovering drug addict, he says weed should be consumed responsibly and in moderation.

Louis Armstrong

Louis Armstrong, one of the most influential figures in jazz history, had a long and healthy relationship with cannabis, or, as he often called it, “the gage.”

Despite the anti-cannabis sentiment of the 1920s and 30s, Armstrong was open about his consumption. He even spearheaded an underground stoner subculture called the “vipers.” 

He spent time during every recording session smoking cannabis, leading to an impressive body of innovative music. Like most people, the famed trumpeter would also use the plant to calm and soothe his anxieties.

Dr. Dre

We could write an entire article about the profound impact cannabis had on Dr. Dre’s 1992 album The Chronic. Named after high-grade cannabis and featuring cover art referencing Zig-Zag rolling papers, the album had such an impact that it gave rise to Snoop Dogg and transformed the sound of West Coast rap overnight.

Dre has come off with shifting opinions on weed (his lyrics in N.W.A.’s “Express Yourself” state that he doesn’t smoke weed cause it’s known to give a brother brain damage), and he has said that while the chronic is enjoyable, it doesn’t make him any more creative. He takes it for the calming aspects after the strenuous songwriting process.

Honorable Mentions: Kacey Musgraves, Wiz Khalifa, Rhianna, Miley Cyrus, Ian Brown of the Stone Roses

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How Cannabis Can Help You Live a Healthier, Less Stressful Life

There’s more to weed than a good time. Explore the natural health benefits of cannabis.

Let’s face it. Your lifestyle is taking a toll on you. From the time you wake until the moment you crawl into bed, you’re probably overstressed and under-nourished (physically and mentally). 

And there’s a good chance your doctor has prescribed a laundry list of medications with detrimental side-effects.

There has to be a healthier alternative, right? There is! 

People have consumed cannabis for wellness long before doctors prescribed lab-developed medications for every ailment under the sun.

With more states relaxing medical and recreational cannabis restrictions, more people are turning to the ancient plant as a healthy alternative to prescription medication. 

We’ve already shown that cannabis can restore your sleep cycle, but you should be aware of the many other health benefits that can come from cannabinoids like CBD and THC.

What are the differences between CBD and THC?

CBD and THC are the two most prevalent cannabinoids in the cannabis plant. 

CBD stands for cannabidiol. And even though it comes from the cannabis plant, CBD is non-psychoactive, which means it won’t get you high. According to the World Health Organization, CBD has exhibited no effects of abuse or dependence in humans

On the other hand, THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is a psychoactive compound – meaning it will get you high.

Both CBD and THC interact with your body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS), which in turn can affect a wide range of functions and processes such as pain, sleep, appetite, memory, and mood.

Cannabis can relieve your chronic pain.

Experts estimate that over 50 million people in the US suffer from chronic pain. That’s a staggering figure! 

Countless people go about their daily routines in constant agony from chronic ailments like headaches/migraines, nerve damage, back pain, or illnesses and diseases like fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, and rheumatoid arthritis. 

Studies have shown that cannabis can help manage and reduce the pain from illnesses like those listed above. Pre-clinical trials have also found that cannabis has helped people undergoing harsh chemotherapy treatments. 

Strains that have been known to have anti-inflammatory effects typically include both THC and CBD. There is a drug used to treat multiple sclerosis pain called Sativex, which combines both compounds and has been shown to improve the quality of life for people with MS.

Reduce your crippling anxiety.

Many people experience anxiety every day, with symptoms ranging from worry to tension to full-blown panic attacks complete with chest pains and shortness of breath. 

Anxiety disorders affect a whopping 31% of US adults. The treatments for such disorders sometimes include natural remedies like counseling and meditation. 

However, the backbone for anxiety relief comes from prescription medications like Lexapro and Xanax, which can have devastating repercussions on your health, including respiratory failure and death.

Fortunately, the more natural approach to short-term generalized anxiety disorder relief can come from–you guessed it, cannabis. It’s not surprising when you consider that cannabis is known for providing people with mellow, chill experiences. 

Scientists at Washington State University have found that cannabis can significantly reduce the symptoms of anxiety, depression, stress, agoraphobia, and post-traumatic stress disorders in moderation.

While the non-psychoactive compound (CBD) is generally the preferred method for these types of therapeutic purposes, there is evidence that low-doses of THC can help reduce social anxiety.

Cannabis can help you drink less alcohol.

You’ve overindulged during the holidays and could stand to give your liver, kidneys, and mental health a break. However, you don’t think your alcohol consumption is extreme enough to warrant a 12-step therapy program. You could stand just to cut back and go dry for a while. 

Cannabis might be the answer!

Many people have begun to swap booze for weed. The reason? Cannabis is less hazardous to your health than alcohol.

Abstinence isn’t always easy, but cannabis can help soften the blow of detoxification. Not to mention, cutting back on booze can lower your weight. This leads to the next benefit:

Cannabis can help you lose weight. 

In popular culture, the idea of the couch-sitting stoner gorging on gas station nachos because they have the “munchies” is all too common.

Indeed, THC can trick the brain into believing you are hungry despite being full, and cannabis has been used to boost appetites in patients battling cancer. However, researchers are looking into how cannabis can play in metabolism and fat loss.

A study in 2018 puts to rest the myth of the slovenly weed smoker and notes how some regular cannabis consumers have reduced their body mass indexes and obesity rates. THC seems to boost metabolism as well as change the gut microbiome, regulating weight loss and digestion.

Does this mean smoking a joint regularly will bestow you with a svelte physique? Of course not. Cannabis isn’t a weight-loss cure. You will still need to exercise and practice healthy eating habits.

Cannabis can ease your taxed digestive system.

Each year, over 60 million Americans are diagnosed with digestive disorders such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), gallstones, gastritis, Crohn’s disease, peptic ulcers, and ulcerative colitis.

To make matters worse, treatments for these disorders are often ineffective and come with unwanted side effects. Fortunately, cannabis can provide natural gut-health relief. 

In ancient Chinese and Ayurvedic traditions, healers often prescribed cannabis to solve digestive issues. Today, researchers have found that cannabis can play a role in your overall digestive health. 

There are cannabinoid receptors throughout the digestive system, and it’s been theorized that ailments like IBS could result from a cannabinoid deficiency. One study reports that people treating IBS with cannabis found their symptoms to improve significantly, and in some instances, even disappear entirely. 

While further studies need to be conducted to determine if cannabis is a viable treatment for digestive disorders, there’s enough research to indicate that cannabis can ease these disorders by lessening abdominal inflammation and reducing nausea and diarrhea.

Edibles are healthier than inhalable cannabis.

Inhaling cannabis (flower, vaped concentrates) isn’t healthy for your lungs. Smoking damages the lung’s cell lining, leading to issues like chronic bronchitis and lower respiratory infections. Inhaling cannabis can also impair your lung capacity, making it harder to combat respiratory diseases (ahem, coronavirus). 

If you want to achieve a healthier lifestyle with cannabis, put down the vape pen and give edibles a try?

*Please consult a physician before starting any cannabis treatments or contact the experts at Leaf411 at 844-LEAF411.

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