Peter Lewis, chairman of Progressive Insurance, died on Saturday afternoon at his home in Coconut Grove Florida apparently due to natural causes. He had just celebrated his 80th birthday on November 11. Lewis was probably the country’s most high-profile billionaire backer of drug law reform. During the November 2012 election, he spent almost $3 million helping secure the passage of marijuana legalization bills in both
Washington state and Massachusetts. The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws estimated that Lewis had spent well over $40 million funding the cause since the 1980s. “Our marijuana laws are outdated, ineffective and stupid,” Lewis told Forbes in a 2011 interview. “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 also had a personal reason for publicly backing marijuana. The Ohio native, who says he first tried marijuana at age 39, used the drug to combat pain from a partial amputation he had at age 64 on his left leg due to an incurable infection.