Year in Review: 40 CelebStoner Awards for 2023

One of the stoned dogs in "Strays"

CelebStoner of the Year: Willie Nelson

The country-music legend and oldest CelebStoner turned 90 this year. A two-day tribute concert was held in L.A. in April, Nelson released two more albums and another book, was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and toured all year either on his own or with the Outlaw Music Festival. What a year for the Red Headed Stranger.

Stoner Movie: Cocaine Bear

At $64 million at the box office, Elizabeth Banks' campy horror flick was a surprise success. It's the true story of smuggler who dumped bales of cocaine out of his plane that was discovered by a bear in a National Forest in 1985. All hell breaks loose. 

via Universal Pictures

Druggy Drama: The Last Deal

This offbeat drama from Jonathan Salemi stars Anthony Molinari as a California grower who continues to work in the unregulated market post legalization. It's a smart screenplay with references to SAFE banking and the "essential business" tag given dispensaries during Covid. 

Movie Actor: Tosin Cole

The House Party co-star is a riot in the latest version of the venerable franchse. He's Kumar to Jacob Latimore's Harold, pushing the envelope and gettng into trouble. Cole always has a joint burning or is rolling one and takes the hit for house-jacking the party in LeBron James's crib. (See Athlete.)

Movie Actress: Jennifer Lawrence

For her third consecutive film, J-Law smokes weed. In the latest, No Hard Feelings, she hits a joint while hanging out with her surfer friends. Lawrence received a Golden Globe nom for her role as a down-on-her-luck bartender who turns on the rauch when she's asked to spice up a high-school boy's life.

J-Law puffs in "No Hard Feelings."

Documentary: Nectarball: The Story of Cannabis

Mark Schulze and Patty Mooney's film dives into post-legalization life in California. It's a polemic with major players like Tommy Chong, John Sally, Steve DeAngelo, Ed Rosenthal, Keiko Beatie and Danny Danko sharing stories and opinions about their favorite plant.  

Movie Pot Scene: May December

Father and son bond over a joint in Todd Haynes' film. Charles Melton's character smokes for the first time, coughs and nearly falls off the roof. Melton has received a Golden Globes and Critics' Choice noms.

Movie LSD Scene: Priscilla

Elvis (Jacob Elordi) and Priscilla (Cailee Spaeny) try LSD in Sofia Coppola's biopic. It's mildly psychedelic, but not much happens. 

Movie Mushrooms Scene: Strays

Doggies trip out when they munch magic mushrooms in Josh Greenbaum's animated film.

Book: Agents of Chaos: Thomas King Forcade, High Times and the Paranoid End of the 1970s

Finally, someone wrote a book about HIgh Times. The story of the magazine's founder Tom Forçade eventually gets around to High Times. But first we learn about all of his wild and crazy adventures that included marijuana smuggling and radical politics. It's not a pretty portrait, but you can't stop reading.

Publication: Honeysuckle

The latest issue, #17, indicates the success of this New York-based magazine and website. Produced by Ronit Pinto, Sam Long and Jaime Lubin, the focus is cannabis, hip-hop and entertainment from coast to coast. They also operate Honeysuckle Studios.

Podcast: The Dime

Most cannabis podcasts are bimonthly at best, but The Dime, hosted by Bryan Fields and Kellen Finney, plugs away 52 weeks a year. Their 2023 guests included Warren Bobrow, Dr. Peter Grinspoon, Amanda Reiman, Kim Rivers, Luke Scarmazzo, Rob Sims and Lulu Tsui.

Play: Melissa Etheridge: My Window

Like Nelson, Etheridge had a great year and was runner-up for CelebStoner of the Year. The memoir Talking to My Angels and one-woman Broadway play My Window combined to tell Etheridge's story from her humble Kansas roots to becoming a full-blown rock star, and an LGBTQ one to boot. 

• Song: "Dance the Night"

There's nothing stony about this disco number by Dua Lipa. It's our nod to Barbie.

TV Comedy: Growing Belushi

Jim Belushi brought the laughs and pathos in Season 3 on Discovery. He and his Belushi Farms partner and cousin Chris Karakosa go looking for business around the country and even in Albania. Belushi's an open book, talking about his recent divorce and letting his belly hang out.

TV Drama: The Fall of the House of Usher

Tying the opioids crisis to eeire Edgar Allen Poe writings is a stroke of genius. This Netflix eight-parter finds another way to tackle the painkiller epidemic without retelling the Purdue Pharma/Sackler family saga. (This one's about Insys.)

TV Actor: Harrison Ford

Making a rare appearance on a TV series, Ford knocks it out of the park as a therapist in Shrinking. He eats gummies in one episode too.

TV Actress: Michelle Bateau

Bateau's New York-set show Survival of the Thickest on Netflix reflects the current diverse weed-friendly scene in the Big Apple.

TV Animated: The Freak Brothers

Season 2 on Tubi saw Freewheelin' Franklin Freak, Phineas T. Phreakers, Fat Freddie Freekowski and Kitty create more havoc in this whacky adaptation of The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers comic strip from the '60s and '70s. Woody Harrelson, Pete Davidson, John Goodman and Tiffany Haddish provide the voices.

via Tubi

TV Pot Scene: I'm a Virgo

Thirteen-foot-tall Cootie never smoked pot until a couple of kids offer him a joint. Cootie reaches his huge arm through the fence and takes it. Friendship ensues.

TV Ketamine Scene: Platonic

Rose Byrne is tricked into snorting ketamine (she thought it was coke) in this Apple TV+ comedy also starring Seth Rogen, who tells her in the scene, "You can't blow it out. It's already in the brain."

Good State: Ohio

In November, voters in Buckeye State passed Issue 2, making Ohio the 24th adult-use legal state.

Bad State: Oklahoma

In March, voters in the Sooner State rejected Question 820, which would have legalized adult use.

City: New York

The Big Apple was in the news all year for good and bad reasons. The good: The new adult-use market kicked off in the beginning of the year with a number of legal pop-ups. But the illegal shops continued to spread, and then law suits followed. All has been resolved for now with hopes of a much better year in 2024.

Country: Thailand

The Southeast Asian nation exploded in 2023 with a new quasi-legal THC market afer CBD sales were alllowed in 2022. Stores opened and trade shows took place. Many Americans visited to check out the new weed scene there and maybe go to a beach. 

Bangkok is starting to look like Amsterdam. (Shutterstock photo)

Product: Pax Plus

Noted by Cannabis & Tech Today and Gear Patrol in their year-end reviews, this sleek device can be used for both dry weed and sticky concentrates. "It's basically everything we want in a vape," raves Gear Patrol.

Strain: Permanent Marker

If Leafly says so then ot must be right (at least about their favorite subject, strains). Writes David Downs: "Prepare for profound indica-hybrid effects...This blows LCG [Lemon Cherry Gelato] and Runtz out of the water."

Edible: Gummies

Gummies have taken over. They're being mentioned and used regularly in TV shows and movies with the oft-repeated line, "The gummies haven't kicked in yet." Everyone's eating them. They're sweet, tangy, easily concealed and add flavor to life. Just beware of all that sugar and gelatin. And find a brand you like.

Psychedelic: Ibogaine

Hyped by medical cannabis acivists for years, this natural African hallucinogen is finally catching on as a treatment for addictions like heroin, cocaine and nicotine. Since it's classified as a Schedule 1 drug (hence federally illegal), people travel to sketchy clinics outside the U.S. to give it a try. 

MSO: Green Thumb Industries

Multi-state operators get a bad rap, often deservedly. It appears GTI has steered away from that and taken a different approach while expanding its brands, including the RISE retail shops around the country. Founder and CEO Ben Kovner has an activist spirit and is quick to weigh in on issues facing the industry, especially in Washington. At the company website, he cites his bona fides: "I voted for Prop 215 while going to school in California back in 1996. Since then, the end of cannabis prohibition has fascinated me." GTBIF is considered a "strong buy" at $10.20 per share, (See Festival.)

Dispensary: Union Square Travel Agency

Celebs love USTA on W. 13 St. in New York. Amy Sedaris did an appearance there and Sarah Silverman recently shot a Daily Show segment in the remodeled store. It was the third-ever adult-use cannabis shop to open in New York State. 

Amy Sedaris at USTA on Sept. 27 (StarPix photo)

Nonprofit: Last Prisoner Project 

Founded in 2019, this organization continues to remind people that 40,000 cannabis prisoners are still locked up in American jails, despite legalization in 24 states.

Brand: Houseplant

Who would have guessed Seth Rogen is into stoner goods as much as he's into his beloved weed (which is still only available in California)? But alas you can buy a wide array of products - ashtrays, rolling trays, lighters, vinyl mixes and now saki sets online. Rogen peppers followers with emails regularly announcing their latest innovations. Oh, and they sell flower too.

 Stunt: Snoop Dogg

Snoop traded in on his wide support in the cannabis comunity by duping it with a clever campaign for a smokeless firepit. Four days later, Snoop admitted it was all a joke. 

Event: NYC Cannabis Parade & Rally

Celebrating 50 years of protests and two years of legalization, the venerable Cannabis Parade returned after several years of Covid with a new partner: The City of New York. (See Dasheeda Dawson.)

MC Dasheeda Dawson on stage at the NYC Cannabis Parade & Rally on May 6 (photo by Cheyenne Bosco)

Festival: The Miracle in Mundelein

Over a weekend in September, Green Thumb Industies produced a music festival featuring Cypress Hill, Stephen Marley, Lettuce and more. GTI's dispensary abutting the property served as the house retailer. (See MSO.)

Trade Show: MJ Unpacked

You want big, go to Vegas. You want a carefully curated event that jumps from city to city, there's MJ Unpacked produced by Jage Media. The display modules and panels are worth the price of admission.

Venue: Work’n’Roll

With events like Tastemakers, Yerba Buena, Terps 'N Tunes and New York Growers Showcases, it's one of New York's favorite smoke-friendly locations.

Administrator: Dasheeda Dawson

The founder of Cannabis NYC, an agency within the City's Small Business Services, can been seen all over New York drumming up support for an equitable legal cannabis industry. Earlier this year, Cannabis NYC partnered with the NYC Cannabis Parade & Rally. (See Event.)

Athlete: LeBron James 

Recently after missing a basket, the Laker legend made a toke gesture and passed it to to his teammate. He then put the imaginary joint on the floor, stepping on it. It's great schtick. LeBron must be a toker. But unlike Kevin Durant, he never publicly brags about it, except on the court. (See Movie Actor.)

Passings: Tony BennettOrrin BoltonJimmy Buffett, David CrosbyRaphael Mechoulam, Sinead O'ConnorRobert Platshorn, Tina Turner


More 2023 Year-in Review Articles

 Stoner Movies

Druggy TV Series

 Counterculture/Drug Books

Celebrity Drugs Busts

Musicians Who Passed Away


Become a Patron!


Steve Bloom

Steve Bloom

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