On Saturday November 23, 2013 Peter Lewis -- one of the most high-profile and certainly the richest supporter of marijuana -- passed away at the age of 80. Today in honor of Mr. Lewis' life and passionate support for the legalization of marijuana, we are giving you ten facts you might not know about marijuana's billionaire backer.
2. With an estimated net worth of over $1.3 billion, Peter Lewis was the heir to the Progressive Corporation (home of Progressive Insurance) which his father co-founded in 1937. Peter Lewis joined the company right after college as an underwriting trainee, took over as CEO in 1965, retired as CEO (but remained Chairman of the Board) in 2000, and grew sales to $15 billion as of 2010.
3. The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws estimates that Lewis has spent between $40 million and $60 million in funding for the movement since the 1980s.
4. The billionaire first tried marijuana at the age of 39, but actively started using it medicinally after undergoing a partial amputation of his left leg at the age of 64. He noted that he found it to be "better than Scotch."
5. “I am a progressive by birth, by nature, by philosophy—that’s the name of the insurance company I ran as well, which is coincidental—but I am a small ‘p’ progressive. I don’t believe that laws against things that people do regularly, like safe and responsible use of marijuana, make any sense. “ - Lewis (c. 2011)
6. Lewis was once arrested and fined in New Zealand for possession of marijuana.
7. The group behind the Massachusetts legalization bill -- the Committee for Compassionate Medicine -- raised $526,000 of which $525,000 came from Peter Lewis.
8. "Half of Americans believe we should stop punishing people for using marijuana. And not coincidentally, more than half of Americans have used marijuana themselves. I am one of those Americans, and I know firsthand that marijuana can be helpful and that it certainly isn’t cause for locking anyone up."
9. Peter Lewis' stated mission for his philanthropic efforts was to reduce the penalties for growing, using and selling marijuana.
10. Once retired, Lewis frequently claimed to treat the issue of marijuana legalization with the same seriousness he did in running Progressive Insurance.