RIP Hugh Hefner, NORML Benefactor

Hugh Hefner, 1926-2017

Playboy founder Hugh Hefner passed away on Sept. 27. He was 91.

In addition to creating the Playboy empire, which has fallen on hard times in recent years, he was a major benefactor to various causes, including marijuana legalization. His Playboy Foundation staked NORML, founded in 1970 by Keith Stroup, with a $5,000 grant in 1971.

"By the end of the year, the Playboy Foundation had given us several supplemental grants," Stroup writes in his book, It's NORML to Smoke Pot. "They funded us at a level of $100,000 a year for the next seven or eight years...

'It's fair to say that without the support of Hugh Hefner and the Playboy Foundation, NORML might never have advanced past the idea stage.'

Stroup issued the following statement today:

"Hugh Hefner, or 'Hef' as he preferred to be called, played a crucial role in the early days of NORML. At a time when most Americans were accepting the government's Reefer Madness propaganda, Hef, through the Playboy Foundation, provided NORML with our initial funding in early 1971, and became our primary funder all during the 1970s. And by focusing attention in Playboy magazine on some of the most egregious victims of the war against marijuana smokers, he helped us convince millions of Americans that marijuana prohibition was a misguided and destructive public policy. Hefner was a fearless cultural crusader who believed deeply not just in the right to sexual freedom, but also in civil rights and the right to privacy. May he rest in peace."

Over the years, Hefner also opened up the Playboy Mansion in Bel-Air, Calif. to numerous fundraisers for NORML and the Marijuana Policy Project.

Steve Bloom

Steve Bloom

Publisher of, former editor of High Times and Freedom Leaf and co-author of Pot Culture and Reefer Movie Madness.