If you go to Steve DeAngelo’s website, the homepage tells you that he is an author, entrepreneur, activist, and dog lover. However, merely calling him an ‘activist’ is doing the man a great disservice. In reality, Steve is one of America’s leading advocates for marijuana reform in the country and has dedicated his life to ensure the truth about the herb is told to tens of millions of people.
There are few Americans that have done more to further the cause than Steve DeAngelo, so without further ado, let’s take a closer look at his remarkable life.
Early Life & Entry into Activism
Steve was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on June 12, 1958, but his family soon moved to Washington D.C. His father worked for President John F. Kennedy’s administration before the family moved to India as the senior DeAngelo worked for the Peace Corps in the late 1960s.
Clearly, activism was in his blood, and when the family returned to America, they saw a broken nation still reeling from the Vietnam War. Even as a teenager, Steve was drawn to anti-war demonstrations and he even skipped school to attend them. As early as the seventh grade, Steve organized a protest against the war which involved commandeering his school’s gym!
Anti-war protestors were considered ‘Un-american,’ and they were often treated harshly. Even so, Steve refused to bow to the demands of the public and eventually dropped out of school in 1974 and joined the Yippies, also known as the Youth International Party. For years, Steve was a street activist but also realized that he needed power, influence, and money to be heard, such is the way the world works.
In his twenties, Steve used his social skills to become a nightclub manager, concert promoter, and record producer. After returning to school, Steve graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Maryland in 1984 and opened the Nuthouse soon afterwards. It proved to be a crucial hangout for weed activists such as Jack Herer and Hugh Nanton Romney, better known as Wavy Gravy.
Weed Glorious Weed
Although Steve had always been at the forefront of protest movements and associated with some of the biggest players in the marijuana industry, he had not yet gained sufficient knowledge of the herb to become the champion of it he is today. That soon changed after reading Jack Herer’s The Emperor Wears No Clothes in 1986. Although Steve believed that cannabis was a good plant, this legendary tome helped convince him that he was right and he went on a national tour with Jack to promote weed.
He also helped Jack edit and publish the manuscript and was heavily involved in the organization of the first ever Hemp Museum. During the tour, visitors were intrigued by the balls of twine made from hemp, and it soon became a popular material for Macrame projects. It got to the stage where Steve used so much twine that he couldn’t find any more in the United States. As a consequence, he had to travel to Eastern Europe to find a new supplier.
This was a fateful trip, as it resulted in the foundation of Ecolution, a manufacturer of clothing and accessories made from hemp. As well as making sales in every American state, Ecolution soon exported its goods to stores in over 20 countries around the globe. Steve was well on the way to gaining the influence he needed, but the story was only beginning.
Out of the Darkness and into the Light
As the end of the century approached, the United States, and most of the world to be fair, still had a backward idea about marijuana. This soon changed with the passing of Proposition 215 in California in 1996. It was a landmark decision because it meant that medical marijuana became legal in the state.
Steve hoped to build on this momentum and was heavily involved in Initiative 59, an attempt to legalize medical marijuana in Washington D.C. I-59 won with 69% of the vote in 1998, but Congress vetoed implantation of the rule. Steve was devastated and moved to California in 2000 to continue the fight.
He quickly got to work and helped found Americans For Safe Access. He also wrote and produced For Medical Use Only, a documentary designed to educate Americans. Marijuana use in California grew in the early 21st century, and in 2006, Steve co-founded Harborside in Oakland. It has since grown to become the largest medical marijuana dispensary in the United States. Harborside has over 300,000 registered patients and was the first center in America to treat children with epilepsy.
Just two years after founding Harborside, Steve helped found Steep Hill Labs, the first commercial cannabis laboratory in the United States. ‘Tireless’ is probably one of the best words you can use to describe Steve because, in 2010, he co-founded the ArcView Angel Investor Network, which helps connect the nation’s most talented cannabis entrepreneurs with interested investors. To date, ArcView has helped raise over $150 million for marijuana-related companies.
A Life Well Lived
For decades, Steve rallied against the establishment and risked everything to help spread the word about marijuana. Finally, it seems that millions of Americans have seen the light, and today a majority of our citizens believe that medical marijuana should be legalized. Steve’s hard work has not gone unnoticed, and he has been the recipient of numerous awards. One of the most prestigious was the High Times Lester Grinspoon Lifetime Achievement Award in 2015, recognition of a lifetime spent promoting marijuana.
Over the years, Steve has appeared in print media such as Men’s Health, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Reuters. He has featured in several radio shows and television programs, at home and abroad. His book, The Cannabis Manifesto: A New Paradigm for Wellness was released to public and critically acclaimed in 2015. To this day, Steve continues his mission to spread the good word about cannabis. However, he ardently believes that marijuana should be used as medicine, NOT an intoxicant.