Amazing Women in Weed

March 13, 2024

Margaret Mead

We continue our journey into the amazing women in weed today with Margaret Mead.

Early Life

American cultural anthropologist, author, professor, speaker, and cannabis advocate Margaret Mead, was born in Philadelphia, PA. December 16, 1901. Mead is the most well-known anthropologist, famous for her views on family, education, women’s rights, sexuality, race, poverty, and cannabis. Time magazine even named her “Mother of the World” in 1969.  Shortly after her birth, her parents relocated to Doylestown, PA., where she spent her her childhood and young adulthood years. After graduating High School, she decided to persue a degree in anthropology at Barnard College. After graduating with a Bachelors in Anthropology in 1923, she continued on to get her Masters from Columbia University in 1924. During this time, her passion for controversial areas of study, such as sex and cannabis, became clear. After gaining her Masters Degree, Mead decided to travel to Samoa to study how much of the stress of adolescence was due to biology and how much was due to culture. She returned home to earn her PHD. in anthropology from Columbia University in 1929.

Career Highlights

After receiving her PHD, Mead went on to have an impressive career. In 1926, she was hired by the American Museum of Natural History in NYC to help the public better understand anthropology. She continued her work here until her death. She became the President of the American Anthropology Association for Advancment of Science in 1960. She went on to teach at Fordham University, Columbia, and the University of Rhode Island. She received 28 honorary doctorates during the span of her career. Mead was even a New York Times bestselling author. She served as a diplomat to many presidents in the area of ecology and nutrition. Mead was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 1976 and in 1979, President Jimmy Carter posthumously awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom. She was outspoken on topics that most would shy away from and spent the majority of her adult life fighting for those rights.

Weed Advocacy

Her passion for fighting for controversial rights included the legalization of cannabis. Mead long fought for legal access and the decriminalization of cannabis and she used her platform as a celebrated anthropologist to challenge the status quo and to advocate for legalization. It’s not even known if Mead was a cannabis consumer, as she only admitted to trying it in once in an interview. Despite this, she still believed in the safe, legal access to adults for its beneficial properties. Regardless of heavy criticism, she continued her fight. On October 27, 1969 at age 68, Mead testified in front of Congress in favor of cannabis legislation. “It is my considered opinion at present that [marihuana] is not harmful unless taken in enormous and excessive amounts. I believe we are damaging this country,  damaging our law, our whole law enforcement situation, damaging the trust between older people and younger people by its prohibition, and this is far more serious than any damage that might be done to a few over-users, because you can get damage with any kind of overuse.” Believing everyone over the age of 16 should legally be able to consume cannabis, she criticized the “government’s attempts to treat the use of drugs by adults punitively, instead of medically and socially.” She saw a need for a more rational and compassionate approach to drug laws, as well as a repair to the generational divide exacerbated by prohibition. Her advocacy and fight helped to pave the way for the legal cannabis market we know today. Her knowledge and passion were crucial in making essential changes in the governing of cannabis.

Maragret Mead died on November 15, 1978 from pancreatic cancer. She is buried in a cemetery in Buckingham, PA. Though she has long since passed, her legacy and life’s work still shine today.