Bill Gates (b. October 28, 1955)
Bill Gates, the wealthiest and most philanthropic US citizen, voted “yes” on the 2012 referendum that legalized marijuana in his home state of Washington, he told BuzzFeed in January 2014.
“It’s an experiment, and it’s probably good to have a couple states try it out to see before you make that national policy,” he said. “Can they keep it out of minors’ hands? Will it reduce alcohol consumption? Are there some people who use it at levels you might think of as inappropriate? Will drug gangs make less money?” were questions he said need to be answered when Washington's law takes effect later this year.
Gates refused to say whether or not he's smoked pot in the interview, but the 1994 book Gates: How Microsoft's Mogul Reinvented an Industry—and Made Himself the Richest Man in America by PC Magazine's Stephen Manes and Seattle Times reporter Paul Andrews indicates that he did.
While at Harvard in the early 1970s, during the days of sex and drugs and rock and roll, "I don't think I was unusual in any of those dimensions, plus or minus," Gates said in an interview on August 29, 1991. His record collection mostly consisted of albums by Seattle native Jimi Hendrix, foisted on him by Paul Allen with the catchphrase, "Are you experienced?"
The book states, "Marijuana was the pharmaceutical of choice, but in [roommate Sam] Znaimer's words, 'on a couple of well-planned isolated occasions we'd go off to the country and spend time contemplating the universe'." Gates told Playboy he did LSD in his interview with the magazine published December 8, 1994.
Gates's Silicon Valley associates were of the era, and to this day, the computer industry shies away from employee drug testing, knowing it would eliminate some of their best talent. "These were the kind of guys (and, very, very rarely, gals) who would once have proclaimed that drugs would change the world, or composting toilets, or Earth Shoes, or strobe lights, or Eastern religions. Now they were all electronics engineers... [or others] who had somehow stumbled into the world of programming. But they were beginning to realize, with almost religious fervor, that hey, the thing that would really change the world—or at least one's own personal slice of it, which amounted to the same thing—was the computer." Of a meeting between IBM executives, "hippie software company" Microsoft, and operating system developers Intergalactic/Digital Research, Manes and Andrews wrote, "To the laid-back, jeans-wearing, late-hippie Digital Research stalwarts, they looked like representatives of the hated FBI-or narcs."
Bob Wallace, who the book describes as an "organizer, countercultural figure, and employee of Seattle's laid-back Retail Computer Store" became an early programmer for Microsoft, becoming the "wizard" with Pascal. After Wallace left the company in 1983, Microsoft lost much of its Pascal market share to Borland's Turbo version. Wallace was a supporter of drug policy reform groups during his lifetime.
Another one of Gates's associates, Blair Newman, once ran Amorphia, which sold rolling papers to fund the 1972 initiative drive to legalize marijuana in California. Newman worked at Shugard Associates, the developer of the 5 1/4-inch disk drive that "made microcomputers more than a toy" and turned up later at Apple Computer. At both companies he was seen as a visionary with brilliant ideas and an utter inability to execute them. Gates, who "was no stranger to drugs," met Newman on the speaking circuit, where Newman helped Gates with a speech and they became friends.
Gates's idol, the book states, is VIP Richard Feynman, of whom Gates said, "had his own way of thinking about things. He was his own guy who decided what counted and what did not, built his values around what he understood and not some artificial way of looking at things." At one point, he planned to meet with Feynman to discuss distributing a videotaped series of his lectures. "It's the coolest way to learn physics ever," Gates said. "It's funny. It's interesting. I'd love to give a lecture like that some day."
Gates was arrested on December 13, 1977 by the Albuquerque Police Department. But the records manager at the Albuquerque Police Department said that after a thorough search no arrest record was found in connection with the mug shot shown. (It is a common practice in many states to remove the record of minor felony convictions after a period of several years, provided that there is no repeat conviction. Among the crimes considered minor felonies are DUI and possession of small amounts of a controlled substance.)
Wendy Goldman Rohm reveals in her book The Microsoft File: The Secret Case Against Bill Gates that Gates and former Microsoft employee Stephanie Reichel broke up their romance in 1992 at an Amsterdam coffeehouse.