R.I.P. James Garner, Actor and Marijuana Lover

CANNABIS CULTURE – Ladies, if you’re looking for the perfect man, you needn’t go much further than James Garner.

Tall, dark, and handsome with a sexy, soothing voice and a laid-back style, it turns out the actor, who has died at the age of 86, was “a life-long user of marijuana, celebrating its emotional support and physical help with his arthritis.”

Know for his TV roles in The Rockford Files and Maverick, and for films like The Great Escape, Garner made an “explosive revelation” in his 2011 autobiography The Garner Files, that he has smoked marijuana for much of his adult life.

Garner wrote:

“I started smoking it in my late teens. I drank to get drunk but ultimately didn’t like the effect. Not so with grass. It had the opposite effect from alcohol: it made me more tolerant and forgiving.

“I did a little bit of cocaine in the Eighties, courtesy of John Belushi, but fortunately I didn’t like it. But I smoked marijuana for 50 years and I don’t know where I’d be without it. It opened my mind and now it eases my arthritis. After decades of research I’ve concluded that marijuana should be legal and alcohol illegal.”

Still, he said: “I’ve had to work hard at that easy-going manner you see on screen.” I think the marijuana helped. He’s also being called “witty,” “wise cracking” and “understated” in his obits. Those are three more pothead traits, as was his political activism: in 1963 he participated in the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom along with Paul Newman, Marlon Brando and Diahann Carroll (pictured).

On an interview with Charlie Rose, Garner talks about being a “card carrying liberal” and says he met his wife Lois Clarke while working on the Adlai Stevenson campaign. Rose concludes, “There is something uniquely and to-his-bone American about James Garner.” (He was right: Garner’s grandfather was a full-blood Cherokee.)

Actress Jean Simmons once said she wished her husband, a heavy drinker, was more like Robert Mitchum, another laid-back actor who was also a lifelong marijuana smoker and enthusiast. Like Mitchum, Garner—born James Bumgarner as the son of an Oklahoma carpet layer—was on his own at an early age, drifting through various jobs until he was discovered by an agent while working as a gas station attendant.

Garner was also a man’s man: a three-time pace car driver at the Indianapolis 500, he served in the Army during the Korean War and earned two Purple Hearts. As an actor, he earned many more hearts.

I’m just happy I got to post a pic of James. Thanks, Mr. Garner, for all those teenage Saturday nights I spent watching you on the Rockford Files. I’d be your Peggy any day.

Ellen Komp is Deputy Director of California NORML and a regular contributor to Cannabis Culture. She manages the website VeryImportantPotheads.com and blogs at Tokin Woman.

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