Marijuana Smuggler Howard Marks Succumbs to Cancer

Howard Marks at a screening of "Mr. Nice" in 2010.

Legendary marijuana smuggler Howard Marks lost his battle with colon cancer on Sunday. He was 70.

Marks was arrested by the DEA in 1987 and charged with racketeering under the RICO Act for his drug smuggling activities, starting in 1970. Despite being found guilty and receiving a 25-year sentence, Marks served seven years in U.S. federal penitentiary. After his release in 1995, he wrote the autobiography, Mr. Nice, named after one of his aliases (Don Nice). It was also the name of his cannabis seeds company and the 2010 film starring Rhys Ifans.

Born on Aug. 13, 1945 in Wales, Marks attended Oxford University before launching his career as a counterculture criminal. He started by smuggling hash from Pakistan to London and eventually brought loads of Columbian cannabis into the U.S.. His highly adventurous life including dealings with the Irish Republican Army, the British intelligence agency MI6, the Brotherhood of Eternal Love and numerous crime families. He made millions, but spent most of it on legal bills.

A staunch supporter of marijuana legalization, Marks stated in 2015:

'I'm pleased to see they have now done this in four U.S. states. After my experience at the hands of the U.S. legal system, America is the last place in the world that I thought would be leading the charge.'

Marks is survived by four children from several marriages.

Steve Bloom

Steve Bloom

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