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Bill Murray Is Just Fine with You Smoking Weed

Charlie Llewellin/Creative Commons

Bill Murray, who some would consider one of the greatest living actors, did a Reddit AMA on Friday. His discussion ranged from what he thinks of the current Saturday Night Live cast to what it was like living in Japan during the filming of Lost in Translation. One response he gave struck a chord.

When asked what he thinks of smoking marijuana, recreationally, Murray responded:

You’re talking about recreation, which everyone is in favor of. You are also talking about something that has been illegal for so many years, and marijuana is responsible for such a large part of the prison population, for the crime of self-medication. And it takes millions and billions of dollars by incarcerating people for this crime against oneself as best can be determined. People are realizing that the war on drugs is a failure, that the amount of money spent, you could have bought all the drugs with that much money rather than create this army of people and incarcerated people…Now that we have crack and crystal and whatnot, people don’t even think about marijuana anymore, it’s like someone watching too many videogames in comparison. The fact that states are passing laws allowing it means that its threat has been over-exaggerated. Psychologists recommend smoking marijuana rather than drinking if you are in a stressful situation. These are ancient remedies, alcohol and smoking, and they only started passing laws against them 100 years ago.

Bill Murray is no stranger to weed. In 1970, the man was arrested and sentenced after being caught with 10 lbs. of marijuana at Chicago’s O’Hare airport. He jokingly said to a fellow passenger that he had two bombs in his bag, at the time, and he was subsequently searched. He got off with probation.

What Murray says about marijuana is something to be considered, though. Ever since the beginning of the war on drugs in the 1970s, the prison population has skyrocketed. Between 1970 and 2005, the prison population rose 700 percent, which far outnumbers population growth and any increase in rates of crime. It is estimated that $51 billion per year is spent on drug-related investigations and incarceration.

It is well known that the United States holds 25 percent of the world’s prison population, and yet, only 5 percent of the world population. Bill Murray may be a comedian, but you don’t have to be a politician to have an opinion on politics. If anyone has the right to speak out against the war on drugs, it’s someone who was alive to see it grow and someone who narrowly missed being a victim of it. Imagine your life without Bill Murray, as he would be sitting in a prison cell instead of filming Where the Buffalo Roam or SNL, which didn’t happen long after his arrest.

We use comedy and distractions as a reprieve from these simple facts, and we can thank Murray for providing those to us, but sometimes you have to be serious. President Obama was once known as “The Interceptor” because of his habit of intercepting joints while they were being passed around, and considering one in 15 African-American men above 18 is in jail, he got lucky.

As for Murray’s comments on weed being better for you than alcohol, there is some truth there. Studies have shown that smoking marijuana does not affect your lungs like tobacco, and it is pretty much impossible to die from smoking too much marijuana at once. However, most psychologists would agree that you should avoid both if you can’t control yourself.

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"These are ancient remedies, alcohol and smoking, and they only started passing laws against them 100 years ago."

The day $20,000 of weed ended Bill Murray’s college days

Darren Parkin

Forty nine years ago today, Hollywood legend Bill Murray took the heart-wrenching decision to pull out of his beloved college days – all over a massive stash of weed he smuggled on to an aircraft.

A little more than two weeks previous, the comedy movie star was boarding a flight following a family celebration to mark his 20 th birthday in Chicago. Murray was heading back to Regis college in Denver to return to his pre-med studies.

As he queued for the plane at O’Hare International Airport, the film funnyman couldn’t help playing the clown with his fellow passengers, foolishly joking with one of them that he was carrying two bombs in his suitcase.

Unfortunately for the wannabe doctor, check-in staff overheard the quip and alerted a pair of US marshals.

The future star of epic classics like Ghostbusters, Caddyshack, Lost in Translation and Groundhog Day knew instantly he may have just made one of the biggest mistakes of his life. For, not only was Murray studying hard for a medical degree, he was also supplementing his student life by running drugs.

He stood, ashen-faced as he watched the two marshals rifle through his bags as they made an obligatory rummage through the luggage of a youngster who just joked about taking explosives onto an aircraft.

While they all knew full-well they wouldn’t find any ordnance, Murray knew what they were about to discover… and they did. As one of the gloved hands of a marshal withdrew from the suitcase it had in its grasp a two-pound ‘brick’ of cannabis.

Sweating

It was quickly followed by another, then another and so on until five bricks were laid out on the table in front of a sweating Bill Murray. The birthday boy knew the game was up as the marshals radioed for the vice squad and, in a panic, he managed to swallow, unnoticed, a cheque from one of his customers.

“That guy owes me his life and reputation,” he would later write in an autobiography.

Murray was charged on-the-spot with possession of cannabis before being forced to appear in court the following day. He was placed on probation for five years, luckily avoiding a custodial sentence as it was his first offence.

A few days later he returned to college, fearful for his medical career and oblivious to where his stellar life would eventually take him.

Fearing news of his criminal record would soon reach college chiefs and force them to kick him out of school, he chose to make the decision first and drop out of Regis.

On this day – October 17 1970 – Bill Murray walked away from a promising career in medicine and towards a path that would eventually lead to him becoming one of the most recognisable film stars of his generation.

As he looked back at the college, lamenting what he had thrown away, he heaved a bag over his shoulder. A bag which – just 21 days earlier – had been packed full of weed.

Forty nine years ago today, Hollywood legend Bill Murray pulled out of college – all because he smuggled a huge stash of weed on to an aircraft.