For nearly 40 years, Men’s Wearhouse founder George Zimmer was all about making the everyday guy a little better dressed, without being pretentious. With his gravelly voice and catch-phrase, “You’re going to like the way you look; I guarantee it,” he became an American icon.
Now, however, he’s more into weed than wardrobes. Zimmer was let go by his company’s board of directors in 2013, and since then he’s been all about helping folks like the way they feel…by smoking weed. An outspoken advocate at cannabis conferences in California and Nevada, Zimmer has also donated significant amounts of money to marijuana legalization efforts.
Zimmer has a nearly 50-year history with marijuana, first using it as a student in college, and advocating for it ever since. He told the Portland Business Journal that “I’ve been trying to do what I can over almost 50 years to try to de-demonize marijuana, dating back to my days as a college student in the ‘50s.”
But some of that maverick spirit may also have led to his downfall at the company. The always-suited Zimmer told Business Insider about the reasons why he got fired, and how it’s turned him into an activist for weed.”You know, one of the very small reasons — and I say small — would be that I tended to be kind of a renegade or somebody who said what he thought,” Zimmer said. “That made the board of directors increasingly uncomfortable.”
Zimmer’s also not afraid to put his money – and his health – on the table when it comes to smoking weed. In 2010, he donated $50,000 to support an attempt to legalize recreational marijuana in California, and he credits marijuana with being one of the things that helped him stop drinking over 35 years ago.
“The fact is — and I mean the scientific fact — [marijuana] is less toxic and dangerous than cigarettes and alcohol, which are the main drugs in the United States,” he stated.
Zimmer also believes that marijuana helped him cope after being fired from the Men’s Wearhouse. “I refer to [marijuana] as harm reduction,” he said. “So the way cannabis helps is, when you lose your job, you don’t go on a two-week bender.”
In case you were wondering if the 68-year-old still imbibes he also told the Business Journal, “I still enjoy the product. I have four children (ranging from 15 to 33), and I never smoke in front of my younger children. They know I smoke. I just don’t smoke around them.” It’s not that he’s ashamed of it, it’s just that he believes “…if you have not figured out your life’s purpose, I do think there’s the chance that you may get distracted from finding something of value to pursue. It’s probably not the case for most people, but there may be a percentage, and I think the risk is inverse to age.”