Howard Marks Howard Marks

Howard Marks

 

Howard Marks (Wales, GB, 1945) is one of the most public examples of free enterprise and goodwill in the cannabis industry, who has contributed a great deal of valuable, positive publicity, education and entertainment to the cause of cannabis legalisation. Once described as “the most sophisticated drug baron of all time”, his current achievements as an author, public speaker, and thoroughly respectable citizen are likewise laudable.

Howard MarksHoward Marks
Poster-child for hash smuggling

 

Howard Marks almost accidentally became the poster-child for hash smuggling, and continues to be the best example of non-violent, hard-drug-free, international trade in cannabis the world has ever seen. Were this a legal market, Howard would have been hailed as a major innovator, captain of industry, and possibly Forbes Business Person of the Year. Since it (still) is not, the Hash Marihuana & Hemp Museum takes great pleasure in awarding the Cannabis Culture Award for 2014 to Howard Marks, in recognition of everything he has done to promote the cause of cannabis. 

Mister Nice book Mister Nice book
Best-selling non-fiction book of 1997

 

Marks’ activities and success instead led to arrests and, in 1988, a 25 year jail sentence at Terre Haute penitentiary in Indiana (the harshest federal prison in the U.S.) where he began work on “Mr Nice”, his autobiography which was published in 1996, the year after his early release for good behaviour.

“Mr Nice” became the best-selling non-fiction book of 1997, was translated into many languages and continues to be an international best-seller. In 2010 it was also made into a film. 

Howard MarksHoward Marks
New insights into the contemporary culture of young people

 

The popularity of his book led Marks to new insights into the contemporary culture of young people. "Through a plethora of media interviews and several public book readings, it became clear that the predominant reason why so many adolescents and university students read and enjoyed Mr Nice was their frustration with the law prohibiting cannabis consumption and trade. Until then, I had no idea of the extraordinary extent of cannabis use by young people today."

Howard MarksHoward Marks
An Audience With Mr Nice

 

This new realization sparked a spate of live shows, usually advertised as book readings but in practice more of a freeform combination of stand-up comedy and relevant reminiscences which received praise from press and audiences alike. “An Audience With Mr Nice” has achieved many sold-out shows throughout the UK and internationally, and although the central theme remains cannabis and Howard’s love of it, the subjects covered have become increasingly diverse. 

Howard MarksHoward Marks
Creative campaigning for the legalization of recreational drugs


Howard Marks has also been active in UK politics, standing for parliament in four separate constituencies (Norwich South, Norwich North, Neath and Southampton Test) in the 1997 general election on the single issue of the legalisation of cannabis. This catalysed the formation of the Legalise Cannabis Alliance shortly after. In the late 90s, he applied for the newly-created post of UK ‘drugs czar’; despite being probably more qualified than anyone else in the country, sadly he was not awarded the position. However, his creative campaigning for the legalization of recreational drugs continues apace. 

Ben Dronkers and Howard MarksBen Dronkers and Howard Marks
Friends

 

A frequent visitor to Amsterdam – ironically, the first place he was arrested – Howard became friends with Sensi Seeds and Hash Marihuana & Hemp Museum founder Ben Dronkers in the 1980s. The two have appeared in various documentaries together, one of which records Howard’s visit to the Amsterdam museum during which he greatly admires the exhibits, chuckling over items donated by the police having seized them from smugglers. He also took the opportunity to enlarge the museum collection by generously donating his prison identification card to the Howard Marks display, which is still one of the most popular exhibits today. 

G13 x Hash Plant Mr NiceG13 x Hash Plant Mr Nice
G13 x Hash Plant strain Mr Nice

 

As a tribute to his good friend, Ben Dronkers named the now-famous G13 x Hash Plant strain Mr Nice. The idea especially appealed to Ben since, prior to being stolen by a lab technician and let loose upon the underground cannabis breeding world, the G13 strain was created and “imprisoned” by the DEA – as was Howard. 

Howard MarksHoward Marks
Writer

 

A prolific writer, Marks is currently working on the third of a trilogy of crime novels featuring a policewoman as the main protagonist. The only thing she has in common with Howard is that they are both Welsh; a deliberate decision following a ruling that profit could not be made from criminal activities, including writing about them. The sequel to “Mr Nice”, “Señor Nice”, covers his life post-prison and does not include any reference to his smuggling days. He has also written articles for The Guardian, Time Out, GQ, The Observer and the Evening Standard. 

Howard MarksHoward Marks
Forefather of cannabis

 

Howard Marks continues to write, speak at public functions, and lend his support to pro-cannabis rallies and events, as well as being a father of four. Recognized in many countries the world over, he enjoys a positive response almost everywhere he goes, as one of the forefathers of cannabis.