Microsoft founder Bill Gates says it’s “amazing” how marijuana policy and culture have evolved since his high school days smoking cannabis to fit in with his peers—and he thinks the ongoing federal-state marijuana law conflict has “got to be resolved.”
In an episode of his new podcast ‘Unconfuse Me” that was released last week, Gates spoke with actor Seth Rogen and his wife Lauren Miller about a wide range of cannabis issues, touching on research barriers under federal prohibition, marijuana potency, his own experience using cannabis in his youth and more.
The multibillionaire said that things have changed quite a bit since his high school days, when he was among the vast majority of his peers who smoked cannabis—with his own occasional indulging being part of an attempt to “to be cool.”
“It wasn’t so much smoking pot for pot’s sake, as it was being part of the crowd,” Gates said. “It’s amazing how it’s changed. You know, when I grew up, it was just kind of a rebellion thing.”
Rogen then talked about the racist origins of prohibition and how that created a “ripple effect” of policy and stigmatization that people have started combating by being open about their own experiences with cannabis.
“When it first came up in what Colorado [and] Washington State—you know, so my state was one of the first to have that—I thought, ‘wow, things really are changing,'” Gates said. “And the fact that you can have the federal level still have one set of rules and the state rules, there’s definitely a paradox there that got to be resolved at some point.”
The conversation, noted earlier by CelebStoner, also turned to cannabis potency, with Gates observing that “a lot of us who were smoking when it was illegal, the dosage was actually pretty modest.”
“So at least as you move into this legal pot world, you can be getting like really extreme doses, particularly on the edibles,” he said. “I mean, I think I know, ‘okay, if I puff five times’ what that means, whereas if you ingest I have no clue.”
Rogen, who owns the cannabis lifestyle company Houseplant, agreed and said that’s why he avoids edibles, and he said it’s a place where he’d actually appreciate some federal regulations so that product potency could be standardized. He said that even the most seasoned consumer like marijuana icon Snoop Dogg “doesn’t eat edibles.”
“That’s how wild the variation on edibles is,” Rogen said. “You really don’t know what you’re gonna get.”
Gates at one point also asked whether there are carcinogenic effects if “you smoke enough weed.” And Rogen responded that there’s not a scientific consensus, but he pointed out that he and his Miller’s doctors haven’t told them to stop smoking cannabis.
Miller added that federal prohibition means that research into the health benefits and risks of marijuana have been stymied.
“I’ve always wondered if we started from scratch and we said, ‘okay, society you can have one drug—you can either have alcohol or pot,'” which they’d choose, Gates said. He also endorsed Rogen’s point about alcohol leading to more poor behavior and mistakes than cannabis, saying booze makes people “say stupid things.”