Elvis Presley is the undisputed King of Rock and Roll and one of the most significant icons in the history of American music. But unfortunately the tale of the fate of the King is a rather sad one. He suffered from drug abuse, health issues, failed relationships and his final days were miserable, lonely and ended at the ripe age of 42 due to a prescription drug overdose.

His death caused many to question what led this legend down such a dark path? And could a medical cannabis intervention have saved the King? To understand the answer to this question, we will take you back to the beginning, where the drug abuse all started.

It is said that Elvis began taking diet pills from his mother’s purse in his teenage years – this was his first taste of amphetamines, which were legal at the time.

But his regular use of amphetamines did not start until the late 50’s, after he was drafted into the army and his mother died of a heart attack. Soon after her death (which was a major blow to the star), he was sent to Friedberg, Germany – which is where the regular use began.

After his honorable discharge in 1960, things seems to go downhill for Presley. His films were panned by critics, but he continued performing. He married in 1967 and had a child soon after. Unfortunately, this blessing came during a time of deep depression for the star.


The most interesting part of all of this was Presley’s openness about being against drugs. A coworker of one of his films mentioned that she had smoked marijuana, and he apparently freaked out and told her to never do that again. His anti-drug mindset was so intense that he even met with President Nixon in 1970 to express his concern regarding the growing hippie movement. He even went so far as to call out the Beatles for their drug use – which was ironic because all the pop stars, including Elvis were using illegal drugs.

The Rise of Drug Use

A short year later, Elvis was having a year and planning his divorce, which ignited Presley’s paranoia. He was convinced that overexuberant fans that rushed onstage after his shows were actually contracted to kill him. And the blow from the finalization of the divorce hit him hard, leading to his first overdose in 1973.

In 1973, Elvis Presley overdosed on barbiturates and spent 3 days in a coma. And Elvis became severely addicted to a potent opiate – Demerol. But he did not seem concerned, he felt that he was not the everyday junkie getting something off the street, because it was prescribed.

Presley hired a live-in doctor, Dr. George Nichopoulos, who reports writing some 10,000 prescriptions during the final months of Elvis Presley’s life: uppers, downers, narcotics, opiates, and barbiturates.

The Effects of Presley’s Drug Use

Elvis developed an erratic onstage persona – slurring his words, clutching the microphone and occasionally the inability to perform.

His sleep schedule was also completely out of whack. He was unable to sleep for more than 3 or 4 hours before waking up, seeking more pills.

Alas, Elvis Presley died with a lethal combination of a dozen different drugs, most of which were prescribed. He felt justified in using his barbiturates because they were legally prescribed by a doctor, unlike cannabis, which could only be obtained from the underground black market.

Cannabis as an Alternative

If cannabis had been a legal alternative, it might have been able to help wean him off of his dependence on some of the other drugs that contributed to his demise. A heavy indica could have been used to help Elvis sleep, and there is growing evidence that cannabis can be used to reduce the use of opioids.


For your viewing and listening pleasure, we included a video of one of Elvis’ hits: