Louie Anderson Voices Support for Marijuana Legalization

By Paul Gaita 04/13/18

"It makes more sense to legalize weed than alcohol. Let's legalize marijuana in all states, and not just for medical purposes."

Louie Anderson

Actor and comedian Louie Anderson earned an Emmy Award in 2016 for his portrayal of Christine Baskets, the unflaggingly optimistic mother of Zach Galifianakis's aspiring rodeo clown, on the FX series Baskets.

Anderson has stated that he based his performance on his own mother, Ora Zella Anderson, who died in 1990. She has also inspired Anderson's new book, Hey Mom: Stories for My Mother, But You Can Read Them Too, which sprang from a posthumous letter he penned to her.

In the book, Anderson details the difficulties his family endured due to his father's alcoholism, as well as his support for marijuana legalization, which he views as a "healthier option for all involved."

The idea for Hey Mom came after Anderson wrote a letter to his late mother after being cast as Christine on Baskets. The book, he said, would hopefully give viewers an idea of who his mother was, and how she impacted his performance. But as Indiewire reported, he also "needed to say some stuff to my mom and didn't know it."

When Anderson's manager and others read the letter, they suggested that he use it as the basis for a book, which was released on April 3.

In the book, Anderson discusses his mother's role in their family, which was to serve as a buffer between their father, who was an alcoholic, and her 11 children, of which Anderson was the second youngest.

"My mom really worked hard, and protected us from my dad, who was a monster in a lot of ways," he said. "He was sick, he was an alcoholic, and alcoholics are dangerous people. They can be cruel. I didn't realize she defiantly stood between us and him. She drew the line."

As with many families of those with alcohol dependency, the impact of his father's issues has been indelibly imprinted on Anderson.

"I know that when you grow up in an alcoholic family, it's kind of like an atom bomb or a hydrogen bomb, where no one gets out unscathed. You're affected at the time, and also as time goes on. Its effects seep into your life, affecting everything you do, from the friends you attract to the risks you take or don’t take, to the whole life you try to lead."

Anderson is able to understand the reasons for his father's dependency; as he writes in Hey Mom, "We all need something to get through the pain."

But he also believes that marijuana is a far healthier and less catastrophic option in those situations. "I'm all for [legalization]," he said. "It makes more sense to legalize weed than alcohol. Let's legalize marijuana in all states, and not just for medical purposes."

Anderson's stance has some clinical support. As High Times noted, a study published in 2014 suggested that couples who used cannabis could experience fewer instances of domestic violence.

More than 600 couples were profiled over a nine-year period as part of the study, which found that in marriages where one partner used marijuana, there were fewer examples of physical and sexual violence, stalking and psychological aggression. Couples in which both partners used marijuana were found to have the lowest levels of domestic violence occurrences.

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Paul Gaita lives in Los Angeles. He has contributed to the Los Angeles Times, Variety, LA Weekly, Amazon.com and The Los Angeles Beat, among many other publications and websites.