Marijuana plants growing in California one of The Most Marijuana-Friendly Nations Credit: Tony Avelar, Newsweek
Ann Lee, a Texas Republican and devout Catholic, thought marijuana was the “weed of the devil.” Like so many Americans, Lee believed pot was a dangerous “gateway” drug that tempted the unwary into a dissolute existence. But when Lee’s son, Richard, suffered a severe spinal injury two decades ago and became paralyzed from the waist down, she was given a crash course in the devil drug. “I had to open my eyes, and I also had to pray a lot and believe in Richard’s integrity,” says Lee, now 81. “When I saw the good it did for Richard’s spasticity, I said, ‘Well, damn the torpedoes and full speed ahead.’?” Since then, Lee and her husband have been steadfast in their support of Richard as he opened a California medical-marijuana dispensary and founded a trade school in Oakland devoted to the study of pot, aptly named Oaksterdam University. Today Richard, 47 and a millionaire thanks to his pot business, is leading the charge for passage of Proposition 19, the controversial California ballot initiative that would legalize marijuana for personal use. And Mom and Dad, now avid Tea Partiers, are manning the phones in support of their son and his efforts.