As the first guests on Unconfuse Me with Bill Gates, Seth Rogen and his wife Lauren Miller Rogen discuss Hilarity for Charity, their fundraising organization that focuses on Alzheimer's. But the conversation gets really interesting when Gates asks the Rogens about pot. They discuss Houseplant, edibles, alcohol, the lack of government research and whether cannabis can help patients with dementia. Read the transcript below.
BILL GATES: So when you first met Seth, were you surprised by how much weed he smoked?
LAUREN MILLER ROGEN: No. [Seth laughs] When we first met, he smoked cigarettes and that I ended immediately.
BILL GATES: Oh, really?
SETH ROGEN: Yeah, she made me stop that.
BILL GATES: Well, you saved his life then.
SETH ROGEN: [laughs] She really did, yeah. So the weed was fine.
LAUREN MILLER ROGEN: I really, truly, was like – weed, great, hand it over! But cigarettes, no.
BILL GATES: And you have this cannabis lifestyle business called Houseplant. Are you enjoying this new business?
SETH ROGEN: Yeah, it’s been amazing. I always talked about how much weed I smoked ever since I was young. I started when I was in my early twenties writing, acting and producing. People always really liked that I was honest about the fact that I smoked a lot of weed and that I was a productive, normal member of society. A lot of people were that also, but no one was talking about it, and no one made them feel like they could talk about it. The impression of every stoner was that they were a lazy loser, and I was anything but a lazy loser. I was creating a prolific career at the time, when all I would do was smoke weed all day, every day. Which is all I still do! [laughter] It’s great now to be able to make things for people who smoke weed, that are nice things and that have thought put into them, because if you’re like me and smoked weed your whole life, you’ve never bought anything that was nice and had thought put into it. It all seemed like it was concocted in a dorm room at four in the morning. The idea that there could be nice home goods and a lifestyle product for people who smoke weed that are actually elevated was fun from a company standpoint, but also from emotionally connecting with people who grew up like me smoking weed and being told they should feel shame about it. I think things like Houseplant make you feel like you don’t need to feel ashamed of it, you know?
BILL GATES: I love music, and I always think it’s fun to hear from other people what some of their favorite tunes are, so I encouraged you to bring something along. Did you bring something?
SETH ROGEN: We sure did.
LAUREN MILLER ROGEN: Yeah we did!
SETH ROGEN: Well, speaking of Houseplant, one of the fun things that we do at Houseplant is that we created these mix records. We created essentially playlists that went along with different strains of weed.
BILL GATES: Oh, cool.
SETH ROGEN: So the sativa playlist is upbeat music, the indica playlist is really mellow music and the hybrid music is right in between. That’s what these are. Me and my friends picked all the songs. It’s a lot of soul music, it’s a lot of funk and R&B music, stuff like that. Does this work? Should I put it on?
Lauren Miller Rogen: "When we first met, [Seth] smoked cigarettes and that I ended immediately. Weed, great, hand it over! But cigarettes, no."
BILL GATES: Yeah. [“The Oogum Boogum Song” by Brenton Wood plays]
SETH ROGEN: [laughing] This is a hybrid song.
LAUREN MILLER ROGEN: And it’s like a perfect hybrid song.
SETH ROGEN: It is!
LAUREN MILLER ROGEN: Because you want to bob your head, but you don’t really want to get up and dance.
SETH ROGEN: It’s not going to put you to sleep. It’s right in the middle.
BILL GATES: If you smoke enough weed, are there carcinogenic effects?
SETH ROGEN: There’s none that have been definitively proven.
BILL GATES: OK.
SETH ROGEN: I can say, we’ve never had a doctor tell us to stop smoking weed.
LAUREN MILLER ROGEN: Yeah, we bring it up. We’ve asked.
SETH ROGEN: We’re very upfront with all of our doctors. Lauren goes to a neurologist, she’s part of programs and studies and no one has been like, “You should stop smoking weed for the health of your brain.” So, that’s been good and nice. It’s nice that this thing I do is not antithetical to the other thing I do, and that potentially there are therapeutic effects to the manifestations of dementia. Things like mood and appetite, and things like that. If anything, it could be helpful.
LAUREN MILLER ROGEN: But because it’s not federally legal, there isn’t money to fund research into this stuff.
SETH ROGEN: And it’s scheduled in a way that makes it un-studyable in a lot of ways.
BILL GATES: Hmm.
SETH ROGEN: It is federally illegal for labs to have, it’s incredibly complicated to have it. It’s scheduled next to heroin, so it’s not federally accessible for study in the way it could be, so people actually understood what it was and was not doing, which I would love to know.
BILL GATES: Yeah, 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...”
Seth Rogen: "I don’t mess with edibles. Snoop Dogg doesn’t eat edibles. That’s how wild the variation on edibles is. You really don’t know what you’re going to get."
LAUREN MILLER ROGEN: Oh, my God.
SETH ROGEN: Oh, they would have picked weed, for sure.
BILL GATES: Well, weed is much less...
LAUREN MILLER ROGEN: Totally. We go out with our friends and they drink. Of course, I’ll have a drink every now and then. But the amount that people drink versus the amount that we smoke, someone the day after a night of drinking, versus someone the day after a night of smoking weed...
SETH ROGEN: Oh, yeah.
LAUREN MILLER ROGEN: You’re in a very different condition.
SETH ROGEN: Alcohol is the worst drug. They did a real marketing thing there. They took a drug that you have fun for 25 minutes, and then you have a headache, you’re vomiting, the whole next day you feel terrible.
BILL GATES: You say stupid things.
SETH ROGEN: Yeah, exactly.
LAUREN MILLER ROGEN: And act like a moron.
SETH ROGEN: They’ve done a really good job of selling it as a good drug, but it’s one of the worst.
BILL GATES: The one complaint I’ve heard about legal pot is that a lot of us who were smoking it when it was illegal, the dosage was actually pretty modest, so at least as you move into the legal pot world, you can be getting really extreme doses, particularly on the edibles.
SETH ROGEN: Yeah.
BILL GATES: I think I know if I puff five times what that means, whereas if you ingest, I have no clue.
LAUREN MILLER ROGEN: Oh, no, an edible can really – they should study those and dose those out properly, because you can really do some bad stuff.
SETH ROGEN: That’s a place where federal regulations would really help. It would be really nice if there was some sort of a standard. I don’t mess with edibles. Snoop Dogg doesn’t eat edibles.
BILL GATES: Oh, wow.
SETH ROGEN: That’s how wild the variation on edibles is. You really don’t know what you’re going to get.
LAUREN MILLER ROGEN: Seth’s dad once accidentally ate a brownie, a whole brownie, an entire brownie, out of our fridge. That's the kind of thing I would have had one eighth of.
BILL GATES: A little bit, OK.
SETH ROGEN: Yeah. And he thought he was dying [laughs].
LAUREN MILLER ROGEN: He literally was like, take me to the hospital, I’m done.
SETH ROGEN: He was fine.
BILL GATES: How old were you when you first smoked pot?
SETH ROGEN: I was probably, like, 13 years old. I’m from Vancouver, it was a different place and time. But yeah, when I was in eighth grade I really wanted to try it. I was out to try it. I was seeking it out. The first time I smoked pot, I didn’t get stoned at all, and it took me a lot of time to actually understand how to even breathe it in properly.
LAUREN MILLER ROGEN: I was 18. I grew up in central Florida. Weed wasn’t really around so much. There wasn’t a ton of weed in my high school times, but it did appear a few times. But I was like, “I will only drink in high school and I’m going to wait to smoke until college because I want to save it.” But when I arrived at college, I was like, it’s on, it’s time.
SETH ROGEN: And back at you, Bill. When was the first time you smoked pot?
BILL GATES: My high school of, say, 105 people in my class, I think there were three or four who didn’t smoke marijuana.
SETH ROGEN: Oh, wow.
BILL GATES: Because it was kind of, hey, I’m an adult. Hey, I can break the rules. But I will say, like you, sometimes it’s like, I guess I’m doing this to be cool? It wasn’t so much smoking pot for pot’s sake, as it was being part of the crowd.
SETH ROGEN: The culture associated with it.
BILL GATES: It’s amazing how it’s changed. When I grew up, it was just kind of a rebellion.
SETH ROGEN: Yeah. I think it’s one of the reasons people are weird about brains in general, and it was also heavily stigmatized so much by the government. It was essentially illegal because a lunatic racist in the 1920s [Harry J. Anslinger] wanted to put jazz musicians in jail, and we’re still living in the ripple effects of that. But it’s really encouraging, the fact that people can even admit that they like to smoke weed because it makes them less stressed out. I think that’s something that people are weird about talking about.
BILL GATES: Yeah, when it first came up in Colorado and Washington state, my state was one of the first two. I thought – wow, things really are changing. 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’s got to be resolved at some point.
SETH ROGEN: You would hope!
LAUREN MILLER ROGEN: It’s crazy because the benefits are exponential. Just as far as financially the government should do it for that simple reason alone.
SETH ROGEN: The truth is, a lot of people who are in jail in America, which has the highest jailed population on the planet per capita, are there because of weed-related charges. That’s often one of the first offenses they get people on, and it puts them in the system, and it has a catastrophic effect on the rest of their lives. So there’s a lot of money involved in weed being illegal as well, and there are a lot of people getting real rich off weed being illegal. You would think common sense would say – money! They should legalize it. But a lot of those people are also getting money on its criminalization, you know.
Bill Gates: "It’s amazing how it’s changed. When I grew up, it was just kind of a rebellion."
BILL GATES: Well, it was fantastic to have you here and talk about Alzheimer’s and pot and good music.
SETH ROGEN: Exactly! [laughs] We’re your one-stop-shop for that! Not a lot of people are going after that.
LAUREN MILLER ROGEN: But we’re happy to be there for them.
BILL GATES: It’s a good mixture.
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