Richard Lee: Former Houstonian Leading California's Legal-Weed Battle

Keep Houston Press Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Houston and help keep the future of Houston Press free.

Californians, those wacky folks, will be voting in November on a referendum to legalize recreational marijuana.

Not medical marijuana, recreational marijuana.

And they've got a Houstonian -- and his 80-year-old mother, who still lives here -- to thank.

Richard Lee was a bit of a hemp activist during his years here but, according to a story in today's San Francisco Chronicle, he became a pot warrior only after being dissed by Houston police.

Lee was a lighting technician for Aerosmith when an accident left him in a wheelchair. The Chronicle reports:

Medicinal pot - which was illegal then - was the only thing, he said, that dampened back spasms as he sat in his wheelchair. When he was carjacked in Houston a year into his disabled life and waited nearly an hour for uninterested cops to show up, he found his cause.

He figured police were probably off wasting their time making marijuana busts instead of chasing the people who had stolen his car.

"I felt like, here was this wonderful medicine of cannabis that had helped me so much, and why were the cops going after people using and selling it instead of the psychos and sociopaths who are out there robbing people?" Lee said. "I thought I should do something about it."

He then opened a hemp clothing store here and spoke out on weed issues. He's since moved to Oakland and begun his crusade.

The Chron gives his initiative a 50-50 shot at passing. Among those helping out on the campaign is Lee's 80-year-old mother Ann, who still lives in Houston.

"The older I get, and the more I look back and think how I grew up in Louisiana with Jim Crow, and didn't really understand it as a white person," she told the Chron, "the more I realize that we should be talking against an unjust drug war against marijuana just the way we did against Jim Crow."

Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.


Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.