Veteran Yippie Ben Masel dead at 56

Posted on April 30th, 2011 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , , .

Veteran Yippie activist and cannabis crusader Ben Masel died April 27 at his home in Madison, Wisc. He had been suffering from terminal lung cancer. Known for founding the Great Midwest Marijuana Harvest Festival, the Bronx-born Masel moved to Madison in 1971 and was a fixture in politics there ever since. He frequently ran for public office—including sheriff of Dane County—on a pro-legalization platform, and sometimes on the Republican ticket, just to tweak the local GOP establishment.

Close friend Leslie Amsterdam said Masel will be remembered for more than just fighting for cannabis legalization. "I think people think he was some marijuana activist," Amsterdam said. "Yes, that was part of it, but I believe his real legacy was in the First Amendment and the constitutional protections he fought for." A photo taken during the recent labor protests at the Madison capitol building showed Masel holding a large sign that read, "This is a test of the emergency free speech system."

Masel recently received NORML's Special Appreciation Award for "A Lifetime of Outstanding Work in Advancing the Cause of Legalizing Marijuana." (Celebstoner, Channel 3000, Madison, April 27; Wisconsin Teapot Party, April 23)

Photo via NORML


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