George Zimmer, founder of successful clothing retailer Men's Wearhouse, has openly discussed his fifty-year history of marijuana use to help combat the negative stigma associated with cannabis. After being fired from the board of the company he created in 2013, the 68-year-old entrepreneur is now devoting his time to marijuana advocacy, along with his new business, Generation Tux.
In 2010, Zimmer donated $50,000 to support an unsuccessful attempt to legalize recreational marijuana in California. This week, he will be the keynote speaker at the Cannabis Collaborative Conference in Oregon, and he has previously addressed marijuana conferences in California and Nevada. Zimmer said that supporting pot legalization “was just one of those little things that I did over my life that pissed people off."
Zimmer said that he began smoking weed in the 1960s, once smoking six joints in an hour with Ram Dass. He also credits marijuana with helping him quit drinking alcohol 35 years ago. "The fact is — and I mean the scientific fact — [marijuana] is less toxic and dangerous than cigarettes and alcohol, which are the main drugs in the United States," Zimmer said.
The businessman said that he was inspired to champion marijuana after seeing how it has been demonized by the government and press. "I'm just following a kind of lifetime passion of mine to help correct this myth,” he said. In addition to helping him quit alcohol, Zimmer said that pot helped him cope with losing his job at the business that he created.
"I refer to [marijuana] as harm reduction," he said. "So the way cannabis helps is, when you lose your job, you don't go on a two-week bender."