Robert Downey Jr: I Was Once Detained At Disneyland For Smoking Pot

By Kelly Burch 09/05/19

The "Iron Man" actor described being detained at the park for his pot use at a recent award ceremony. 

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Robert Downey Jr.
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Last month, when actor Robert Downey Jr. received the Disney Legends achievement award at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, it was a very different experience from his first trip to the park, when he was apprehended for smoking pot on the gondola ride. 

“Here’s a bit of trivia for you. The very first time I went to Disneyland, I was transported to another place—within moments of being arrested,” Downey said, according to Marijuana Moment. “I was brought to a surprisingly friendly processing center, given a stern warning, and returned to, if memory serves, one very disappointed group chaperone.”

Clearing The Air

Downey said that the moment had stuck with him for years, and receiving the award was the perfect opportunity to clear the air. 

He said, “I’ve been sitting on that shame for a while and I‘m just going to release it here tonight.”

Then he took his moment in the spotlight to say sorry, and to crack a few jokes. 

“I would like to make amends to whomever had to detain me for smoking pot in a gondola without a license,” he said. “And I don’t wanna further confuse the issue by insinuating that pot smoking licenses for the gondola are in any way obtainable or for any of the other park attractions.” He continued, “Maybe for the Imagineers, but that’s their own business.”

A Former President Got Caught Smoking There Too

Downey isn’t the only celebrity who has admitted to getting high in the Happiest Place On Earth. Last year, former President Barack Obama implied that he had also been kicked out of Disney for smoking marijuana during his college years, although he wasn’t as blunt as Downey, later backtracking to say he was smoking cigarettes on the ride. 

“As we were coming in, these two very large Disneyland police officers… say ‘Sir, come with us,’” Obama recalled. “This is a true story. I was booted from the Magic Kingdom.”

As for Downey, his marijuana-smoking days are well behind him. Not only has the sober actor been embraced by Disneyland, he also received a full pardon by then-California Governor Jerry Brown in 2015 for charges he faced in 1996 when he was pulled over and found to be in possession of cocaine, heroin and a loaded gun. 

“Job one is get out of that cave,” he told Vanity Fair in 2014. “A lot of people do get out but don’t change. So the thing is to get out and recognize the significance of that aggressive denial of your fate, come through the crucible forged into a stronger metal... But I don’t even know if that was my experience.” 

Downey has since watched his own son battle with drug use.

“Pick a dysfunction and it’s a family problem,” he said. 

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Kelly Burch writes about addiction and mental health issues, particularly as they affect families. Follow her on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn.