neon marijuana leaf
Green Therapy

High Hopes: Raising Awareness of the Benefits of Medical Marijuana
Through Comedy & Compassion

Howard Dover

Howard Dover
Medical Marijuana Activist


LA Weekly
UCLA Daily Bruin
Skunk Magazine
LA CityBeat
Santa Cruz Sentinel


By Julie Seabaugh (reprinted from

Why wouldn't onetime star witness, sometime actor and all-the-time fame chaser Kato Kaelin want to explore a stand-up comedy career? It's worked out so well for Screech and Christopher "Kid" Reid, after all. But apparently the houseguest extraordinaire's infectious enthusiasm lends itself surprisingly well to hosting, say scene insiders who've witnessed his recent onstage exploits, thus Kaelin should be right at home emceeing the latest installment of the ExtravaGANJA show.

The brainchild of comic Howard Dover (Weeds, Kids in the Hall's Brain Candy) and dedicated to raising awareness of the benefits of medical marijuana, the event also features sets by Whitney Cummings, Sam Tripoli, Frazer Smith, Steve Rannazzisi, Jon Schieszer, Suli "Crazy Legs" McCullough and more, as well as offstage representation from health-evaluation collective and initiative-campaign site

"Even the AMA is now saying we should take a look at marijuana as a medicine," Dover offers. "I want people to get involved: 'Never underestimate your power as an individual to effect positive change.' " Or at least the power of Kato Kaelin to draw a curious crowd.  (Back to Press List)

Fundraiser: Event to raise awareness about medicinal use of drug

By Antero Garda
Daily Bruin Senior Staff

Many comedians like Giulian Jones are quick to point out the positive effects legalizing marijuana would have on society.

"How many times have you heard about a guy who got drunk and killed someone?" Jones asked in an interview from his home in Hollywood. "Often. How many times have you heard about a guy who smoked a joint and went out and killed somebody?"

"Maybe he got high, thought about killing somebody, ate a bag of Cheetos and forgot about it."

Jones and a huge lineup of famous entertainers, including Bill Maher, Kevin Nealon and Rick Overton, will be performing in "High Hopes" September 2, 2001 at the Improv Comedy Club in Hollywood. The show is being produced to raise awareness for the legalization of medicinal marijuana.

According to Howard Dover, the show's creator and one of its performers, 75 percent of the show's proceeds will be given to Californians for Compassionate Use, an organization that advocates the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. The other 25 percent will be given to an organization called Compassionate Moms which helps coordinate visits between prisoners and their families and also takes home-ridden patients on outside excursions.

Noting the multitude of comedic benefit shows, Dover explained that he created "High Hopes" because marijuana helped his cousin through his pain while living with AIDS. Since this realization nearly three years ago, Dover has produced nine similar benefits in the past three years in Montreal.

"Marijuana stimulated his appetite. It helped him keep down the drugs he was taking. It reduced nausea, and it helped him get back to as good health as possible," Dover said. "It really helped save him. It just got me thinking, 'Why isn't that more readily available?'"

Other performers on the show's lineup also questioned why marijuana is not legal.

"I'm thoroughly convinced over the last decade that we have legalized the wrong drugs," comedian Mike McDonald said from his home in Glendale.

Besides alleviating the pain that patients suffer, some activists point out that marijuana is more naturally produced than drugs that are already legal.

"Marijuana is grown free," Jones said. "You don't grow beer. You don't grow Pepsi-Cola. And you don't grow cigarettes. So it's odd that this is illegal."

While these activists continue to question why marijuana continues to be illegal, many share McDonald's frustration over the harsh laws regarding sale of the drug. "It kills me how there's some kid in Michigan who's doing 18 years for buying a joint off an undercover cop at a Kiss concert, and I can go up there and kill somebody in my car and get out in three years," McDonald said. "It should be a no-brainer, but here we are having to have a benefit for this."

With the benefit show created to help raise awareness about medicinal marijuana, one performer, Cecily Knobler, feels that the college audience the college audience is exactly the type of crowd that should attend the show.

"I think college, not that it's the first time you explore new ideas, is a time you can go against things you were taught," Knobler said. "I can't think of a better audience than the college crowd."

Not only are college students exploring new ideas. In a recent poll by USA TODAY / CNN / Gallup, 34 percent of adults favored legalizing marijuana - the highest amount in more than 30 years.

Though not everyone's opinion will change after seeing "High Hopes," Jones will still try to change the minds of his opponents.

"You will never hold up a liquor store after smoking two joints," Jones said. "You will never beat up your girlfriend after a bowl of some chronic. I guaran-damn-tee it. You might think about it, but then you're going to fall asleep in a puddle of your own piss."  (Back to Press List)

Comedian Howard Dover

They say a journey of a thousand miles starts with a simple step. In the same sense, a fundraising event starts with the first dime. Or if comedian Howard Dover had his way it would start with the first dime bag. I guess you could say Dover is the marijuana world's Bob Geldof.

"Sir" Dover's aim is to raise awareness about the benefits of medical marijuana. He helps raise much needed scratch for local compassion clubs through his comedy shows extrava-ganjas. With an A-list of comic pals (Bill Maher and Joe Rogan, to name just a few) eager to aid, Howard and crew are just the hit the compassion clubs need. Well, almost.

Marijuana was the medicine his cousin needed a few years back. Suffering from AIDS, marijuana fueled his appetite and helped keep down the drugs he was taking, reducing his nausea. It woke the comedian up and ever since he's been preaching that medical marijuana should be legalized.

Being a stand-up comic is a funny job but according to Howard there's "nothing funny about denying a suffering person a substance that brings him/her relief." I caught up with Dover as he prepared to take to the stage in a few choice cities.

ML: Having the reputation as that med-marijuana comic, how nasty are the strip searches every time you travel? Who's seen your little brown ring more: your lovers or airport security?

HD: Luckily, I'm a Canadian comic so no one has ever heard of me! And the answer to the second part is probably airport security. It's not that they asked or wanted to search me, I just like showing off my hairy ass and the way I have it parted to the right. It's quite a sight.

ML: Having been married for the last 18 years what are the chances of getting marriage on the list of ailments so med pot can help me with that pain in the ass, a.k.a. the wife?

HD: I think a better idea would be to tell the wife to stop wearing the dildo to bed. I think that if anyone wants to smoke, well, that in itself is a good enough reason to get med pot. Doctor?

ML: This is from "In the United States, marijuana (and, for that matter, industrial hemp) is classified as a Schedule 1 drug, a category reserved for dangerous and medically useless drugs, such as heroin and LSD. Methamprietamine, PCP and cocaine fall into a lesser serious category." This is just insane. You're the comedian. How can you make us laugh at this nonsense?

HD: This is the part of the interview where I cry,actually. Hopefully, things will improve as the reefer madness generation start suffering from Alzheimer's, which should be any day now. I like marijuana. I like the fact that it allows you to enjoy the simple things in life, like M&Ms!

ML: Let's get to your standup. Who are your biggest influences?

HD: So many, so little time. But let me whip off a couple of names: Gary Shandling, Steven Wright, all those who came before me, and even a couple of locals, including Lawrence Morganstern. There are a couple of photos on my website [] that I'm especially proud off: me with Sid Caesar, Red Buttons, and Shelley Berman.

ML: Finally, fill in the blanks here: the ideal place to torch up a fat one and just kick back and chill. Where? With who? And what are you listening to as you enjoy Mother Nature's leaf?

HD: To chill is, wherever you are at that given moment, with whomever you are with. Since burning a phattie heightens your senses, any music you already enjoy will sound that much better. With that said, I enjoy all smoking tunes but do have a special fondness for Cab Callaway's "Funny Reefer Man." I always like to think he's talking about me: A funny reefer man.  (Back to Press List)


Pick of the Week
Sunday the 24th

What are you, high? You think people fighting for the right to use marijuana for medical reasons is just one big fatty joke? Well, you're wrong. Still, Howard Dover of will use humor in the battle, with another outrageous comedy show benefitting medical marijuana patients and supportive organizations. Joe Rogan (Fear Factor), Bill Dwyer (Extreme Dodgeball and Battlebots), and Ngaio Bealum are among those bringing laughs to this serious issue, over which California has become a widely watched state. Last year's event, Dover notes, "only raised enough for a couple of ounces," so please bring all your friends. The Green-Eyed Ladies burlesque troupe will also perform, adding sauciness to the sass. 8:20 p.m. (4:20 p.m. in Portugal). $20; $10 with compassion club card or doctor's note. Comedy Store, 8433 Sunset Blvd., L.A., (323) 656-6225.  (Back to Press List)

Thank you, WAMM

The 2002 federal raid on the headquarters of the Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana in Santa Cruz has faded into the background, but it won't stay there for long, if HOWARD DOVER has any say in the matter.

Dover, a native Canadian who is now a Los Angeles standup comic, will perform in Santa Cruz for the second time in a benefit show for WAMM. Dover has invited a number of other comics to appear with him, including ROB BRACKENRIDGE and ROBERT HAWKINS, as well as folksinger DIANE PATTERSON, all to raise awareness and funds for WAMM's ongoing legal defense.

Curiously, Dover had no connections to WAMM, or Santa Cruz, other than overt admiration for the group's mission. "I read a story about it in the paper and I've been following it closely ever since."

Dover — who calls himself a "medical-marijuana comic activist" and calls WAMM's VALERIE CORRAL "as close to a living angel as I know" — put together the first event last March.

He's been organizing medical-marijuana benefit events in L.A., events that have attracted big-name celebrities like BILL MAHER and DOUG STANHOPE.

But his own material, he says, only touches on medical marijuana. He also delves into other more prosaic comic subjects, which serves him well when he performs in front of crowds a bit less sympathetic to the medical-marijuana issue than Santa Cruz, such as military bases and security industry conventions.

Howard Dover's show, called "High Hopes," takes place on Sunday, Oscar night, and he is hoping that people will get tired of the Oscars' length and make it out to the show at 8 p.m at Moe's Alley in Santa Cruz. Tickets are $10.  (Back to Press List)

October 18, 1999

Medicinal Weed:
Ottawa approves applications to use marijuana

By Andrew Clark

Comedian Howard Dover came up with the idea for a benefit performance to be called Oh, Cannabis after his cousin, diagnosed with HIV, began using marijuana to ease his pain. Held last week at the Yuk Yuk's club in Toronto, the standup comedy show raised money for two local groups fighting to win the right to use marijuana as a medicine. In comedy, timing is everything, and Dover's was impeccable. On the same day, Health Minister Allan Rock announced he was allowing 14 Canadians to use marijuana for medicinal purposes. To the show's comedians, a group not known for their anti-drug stance, that represented victory. One performer, Craig Campbell, lit a six-inch joint and inhaled deeply. "This," joked the 30-year-old, "is my tribute to the cause."

Rock's announcement clearly established the federal government's support for the use of marijuana to ease symptoms associated with some diseases. It followed Rock's decision in June to exempt the first two patients — both suffering from AIDS — from prosecution under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. Health Canada officials did not identify the 14 new patients or their ailments. But marijuana's advocates say it is effective for a wide range of conditions including AIDS, multiple sclerosis, cancer, chemotherapy side-effects, epilepsy, and some eating disorders.

Under a procedure established last May, applicants for exemption must provide a detailed doctor's report along with other information about their condition. The special dispensation allows them to grow marijuana for their own use, but not to buy it or receive it from a caregiver. The department is considering 80 informal inquiries and 20 more official applications. But many activists in the fight to legalize medicinal marijuana believe Health Canada's provisions do not go far enough.

Warren S. Hitzig, director of the Toronto Compassion Centre, one of the Yuk Yuk's benefactors, says about 3,000 chronically ill Canadians use organizations like his to obtain marijuana. "It's a start," he said of the 16 exemptions, "but what about the rest of the people suffering throughout the country?" Health Canada counters that it still lacks reliable information about the medicinal value of marijuana. "Right now, all we have is anecdotal evidence," says spokesman Derek Kent.

To address that problem, Rock said, the first Canadian clinical research into the medical benefits of marijuana will begin in Toronto early next year. Trials will be held in other centres over a period of five years, at a possible cost of $7.5 million. The Toronto program will involve roughly 250 subjects taking either research-grade cannabis, dronabinol — a drug containing a synthetic version of the psychoactive agent tetrahydrocannabinol — or a placebo. Health Canada has not settled on a source for pure, standardized marijuana. But it will not be cannabis seized by the RCMP. International conventions ban the use of illegal substances for legal means, and street drugs may contain fungi, molds, and other contaminants that make them inconsistent in chemical composition and potency.

The exemption process, already slow and laborious, may become unmanageable if thousands submit applications. Health Canada insists it is not opening the door to legalizing the drug. "This is not about decriminalization," maintains Kent. "This is about providing medical marijuana for those who are sick."

But even as Rock announced the new exemptions, the government's marijuana policy was under attack on another front. In the Ontario Court of Appeal, lawyer Alan Young, a professor at Osgoode Hall Law School, appeared for two Toronto men caught up in marijuana cases. The federal government is appealing an Ontario judge's decision to stay possession charges against Terry Parker, 42, who has used marijuana to control his epilepsy seizures. Christopher Clay, 42, a legal activist, is appealing convictions for possession and trafficking. Ottawa, Young argued, does not have the constitutional right to deprive Canadians of marijuana because, he said, it is no more legally toxic than sugar. Young believes that, so far, only the terminally ill have been granted exemption. "When the government gives dispensation to those with debilitating illnesses," he said, "then we will see a real change because then you will have tens of thousands of users."

Meanwhile, the comedians are already planning their next benefit. "Fourteen," Dover mused on stage. "It's not much, but it's a start." And with a gesture to the marijuana-friendly audience at Yuk Yuk's dinner tables, the comedian added: "And I'm guessing that food sales tonight were way up."  (Back to Press List)

Jack Says
Photo Gallery