Peter Lewis

Billionaire Peter Lewis, Advocate Of Marijuana Legalization, Dies At 80

“Our marijuana laws are outdated, ineffective and stupid,” Lewis told Forbes in a 2011 interview. “I am a progressive by birth, by nature, by philosophy—that’s the name of the insurance company I ran as well, which is coincidental—but I am a small ‘p’ progressive. I don’t believe that laws against things that people do regularly, like safe and responsible use of marijuana, make any sense.”

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13 Responses to Peter Lewis

  1. claygooding says:

    We lost a very good friend to cannabis legalization,one that will be nearly impossible to replace,,my sympathies to his family during this time and I hope they know just how many people loved the man and will mourn his passing.

  2. Nunavut Tripper says:

    I knew who Peter Lewis was but didn’t realize the extent that he had financially supported Cannabis law reform.

    Sounds like we lost a good man.

  3. Swooper says:

    RIP He was a great sponsor of many pro-cannabis initiatives over the last few decades.

  4. jean valjean says:

    no doubt he represented the “well funded legalization movement” against poor little kev who has to combat it with the paltry funding of fed and state government.

  5. Duncan20903 says:


    80 years old, a billionaire, and smart and/or lucky enough to use medicinal cannabis for his phantom limb pain. Wholly neuropathic pain does not have any FDA “approved” pills potions or powders that offer any significant relief.

    Well, I hope that nobody takes this the wrong way but last night as I was pondering the world in alpha sleep last night it struck me that a lot of rich people leave substantial amounts of money to their preferred charities/political causes in their will. What we couldn’t do with more than a $billion with a B. Heck, what we couldn’t do with $50 million. By “we” I mean cannabis law reform advocacy in general.

    It’s not something that I’m expecting or predicting will happen. I am keeping my fingers crossed. But when I was doing my 13th Amendment based involuntary servitude for the Salivation Army about half of the junk we processed was the contents of dead peoples’ homes.

    (If you ever decide to do something like that make sure that your adult toys are secured somewhere secret. It makes the “volunteers” processing your donation laugh so hard as to be in danger of dropping dead. If you tell your lawyer to give all the junk in your house away after you’re dead that’s exactly what they’re going to do. But this one is already from the “too much flippin’ information” category so I’ll spare you the hilarious yet utterly disgusting details.)

  6. Servetus says:

    Peter Lewis will long be remembered as a great humanitarian whose moral insight exceeded his prohibitionist detractors by light years.

    Mr. Lewis empowered the average citizen to speak truth to power through voter referendums and other means that put the government on notice that we, as citizens, weren’t going to take it anymore. He proved that just one individual can make a huge difference in the fight against tyranny. The funds he donated to drug law reform impelled an invincible democratic movement.

    Today, that movement stands ready to fight for more than just drug freedom. A wide variety of human rights and freedoms can be realized merely by focusing on citizens’ rights to free and unhindered access to nature’s wonder chemicals. Peter Lewis helped create a social revolution that will ultimately rid the world of much of its theocratic and fascist oppression in favor of liberty and justice for all. For his efforts, the world owes Mr. Lewis its absolute gratitude.

  7. He was an incredible supporter of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, as well as many other drug policy reform organizations. Rest in Peace Mr. Lewis.

  8. Servetus says:

    Slightly OT, although Peter Lewis’ work in the public sector may have helped make the following research relevant, and thus possible; more medical miracles from the marijuana plant are recently revealed:

    The study, published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, is the first to explore how tiny, yet powerful molecules called microRNAs are influenced by THC. MicroRNAs are a recently discovered class of non-coding RNAs that play a pivotal role in the regulation of gene expression. The ability to alter microRNA expression could hold the key to successful treatments for a whole host of autoimmune diseases, including arthritis, multiple sclerosis and type 1 diabetes.

    … The authors also studied how a specific microRNA–miRNA-690–that was highly overexpressed in response to THC functionally targets an important protein called C/EBPα. This molecule in turn triggers unique cells known as MDSC that suppress inflammation. When the researchers successfully knocked down miRNA-690, the effect of THC was reversed.

    Lead authors Drs. Prakash and Mitzi Nagarkatti have studied how marijuana can alter immune functions and inflammation for over a decade. They were the first to show that marijuana components trigger MDSC to suppress inflammation. The current study performed by Dr. Venkatesh Hegde along with others from their team suggested that marijuana can act as a double-edged sword—on one hand suppressing inflammation and thereby increasing susceptibility to certain diseases, while on the other serving as effective treatment modalities against inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.

    • NorCalNative says:

      A recent study at a southern U.S. university published in the Journal “Cell,” showed mice taking Ibuprofen or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) had a lessened psychoactive effect which they believed eliminated some short-term memory loss problems.

      The researchers hoped that decreased psychoactivity would increase the patient pool of elderly Alzheimer’s patients.

      Curious though, that there was no mention of CBD and it’s ability to moderate the psychoactivity of THC.

      However, IF YOU ARE CURRENTLY TAKING NSAID medications. From personal experience, IF YOU QUIT NASIDS YOU WILL notice an increased psychoactive effect from daily toking for around three or four weeks before tolerance levels get reset.

      I quit Naproxen which was just one of a catalog of NSAIDS I’ve taken over the past few decades. They are actually pretty good medicine, but the side effects of increased heart attack and/or fatal internal bleeding makes it a good candidate to replace with CBD-rich cannabis if you can get it.

      The benefits of using CBD to replace anti-inflammatory medicine (CBD is a Cox-2 inhibitor like NSAIDS) is instead of using oral medication on a regular basis you medicate with the CBD ONLY during painful episodes. And, whether it’s a tincture, kief, hashish, or simply CBD-rich cannabis the time until relief is obtained is much, much quicker than ingestion by mouth.

      While the article isn’t specific about whether short-term memory loss IS a direct result of psychoactivity, if that’s the gist of their idea, the fact that CBD gets no mention makes me very nervous. What’s the point of adding something else to the mix if you can get the same effect with proper choice of cannabinoid ratios?

      The cool thing about CBD is blunting the psychoactive buzz does NOTHING to lessen the medicinal benefits of whatever THC is present.

      The Endocannabinoid system is viewed by Big Pharma as something they can use in COMBINATION with their sometimes very crappy formulations designed more for profit than relief or health.

      This is not a good thing because G.W. Pharmaceuticals is likely to charge $1,200-to- $1,500 per month for their pure CBD extract to be used for pediatric patients with Dravet syndrome. Parents in Colorado are paying around $200 per month for the CBD-rich extract grown from a plant known as Charlotte’s Web.

      • Duncan20903 says:


        Then there’s the part where most people with even a half assed health insurance plan will get FDA approved medicine for a co-pay. Epidiolex® would cost me $25 a month after approval.

        But why in the world are you presenting it as an either/or choice? How about if we just do both?

  9. Fallibilist says:

    Peter Lewis was a great man and he built a great company, Progressive. (Seriously, buy their insurance.)

    For those who don’t know, he was one of “The Big 3” money guys behind MMJ/Marijuana legalization when few others were contributing. Here’s the run-down:

    (1)George Soros, international currency trader, most famous because he once earned $1 Billion in a single day betting against the British pound

    (2)John Sperling, founder of the University of Phoenix.

    (3) Peter Lewis, RIP.

    (It’s interesting to note these guys made all made a lot of money after starting off with basically none and then went on to become lefties. It’s very interesting–and I say that as a non-lefty myself.)

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