cannabis history, medical marijuana, music and cannabis

Louis Armstrong and Cannabis

The influential Jazz musician, Louis Armstrong (b. August 4, 1901), was an advocate for cannabis use medicinally and socially. In his era is was called many things including: “gage,” “mugs,” and “Mary Warner.”

Armstrong used cannabis for relaxation before and after performances and expressed the following sentiment about the camaraderie he felt:

“That’s one reason we appreciated pot, as y’all calls it now, the warmth it always brought forth from the other person … It makes you feel wanted, and when you’re with another tea smoker it makes you feel a special sense of kinship.”

He was arrested several times for cannabis. Luckily, his status as an entertainer and cultural ambassador helped him to receive suspended sentences – many others, especially people of color, have not been so lucky.

On his cannabis use, “As we always used to say, gage is more of a medicine than a dope. But with all the riggamaroo going on, no one can do anything about it.” Ultimately, the penalties for illegal cannabis were too much even for Louis Armstrong: “Well, that was my life and I don’t feel ashamed at all. Mary Warner, honey, you sure was good and I enjoyed you heap much. But the price got a little too high to pay.”

We’ve come a long way in reducing the “riggamaroo,” behind cannabis use and still have a long ways to go …

For more background:

Louis Armstrong and Cannabis: The Jazz Legend’s Lifelong Love of ‘the Gage’ (Leafly)

Smoke Signals: A Social History of Marijuana (PopMatters)

Legal History of Cannabis in the United States (WikiPedia)


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