From Howard Marks to Mr. Nice, the story of the greatest cannabis drug dealer in history.

Reading Time 9 minutes
Picture of Howard Marks with his nickname Mr. Nice written over it with a background of cannabis leaves.
Picture of Howard Marks with his nickname Mr. Nice written over it with a background of cannabis leaves.


Is there anyone in this world who has not heard of Mr. Nice? It’s weird because he’s one of the people who’s been involved with marijuana the longest in one form or another, from when he was a young college student to the end of his days.

What many people do not know is his story, although a good part of it was captured in a magnificent autobiography that was later made into a film. In this article we are going to summarize the highlights of his life, revealing some of the secrets that have not been published until now. Are you interested? Well, read on …



🎯 A very intelligent, brave, charismatic young man with a promising future



Howard Marks was born in Kenfig Hill, a small town in Wales, in the United Kingdom, and since he was a child he already pointed out ways, because he had a talent and intelligence very much on top of boys his age. This led him to be the first person from his town to get a scholarship to study at Oxford, something that was normally reserved for young people from wealthy families.

At first he enrolled in physics, but later discovered that philosophy filled him more. He was studying this career when he began to consume and sell hashish, since it was something fairly common in many students of this branch of letters.



🔥 The first contacts, love and cannabis


Ilze Kadegis was the person who discovered Howard love, first for her and then for cannabis. It was 1966 when Miss Kadegis gave Mr. Marks a taste of marijuana, and later introduced him to Graham Plinston Drug dealer, the student.

Plinson was arrested when he tried to bring in a car loaded with hashish from Germany, Howard did not think twice and went to bring the shipment himself, something that someone else would have panicked, but he seems to have liked , since he sold everything to Saleem Malik, who would later be his great contact, and he wanted to repeat.

Kadegis and Howard were married in 1967, and they even had a daughter, Myfanwy, although the marriage did not last long and they each went their own way. The business had already started and could not be stopped now, in fact at that time it was beginning to take off.

In college he also met Judy Lane, the woman in his life and mother of 3 of his children, who fell for the charm and talent that Howard gave off. It was 1971 and Mark’s studies stagnated, at the same time that his race as a camel.



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✨ From promising student Howard to Mr. Nice, the rise of the myth


In a way, Judy helped create the Mr. Nice legend, because until Howard met her, she barely supplied cannabis to college mates and little else. Thanks to Patrick Lane, Judy’s brother who worked in the United States helping clean up drug money, Howard’s business takes a step further.

Shortly after they began a very ambitious plan, to bring high quality hashish to the USA hidden in the speakers used on their American tour by the band Pink Floyd. For a while it worked, the large speakers were loaded with Pakistani hash and on the way back they were filled with bricks so that they would not be suspected because of the weight.

At the beginning of the 70s,arrived in the USA Colombian marijuana very good, especially Colombian Gold, but it was very rare to find quality hashish, except for the one transported by Howard and his “gang”. On the other hand, in the United Kingdom the opposite happened, there was a lot of good hashish but no quality marijuana arrived. It was time for the plan to move one step further, so they thought about taking hashish from England to the USA and taking advantage of the return trip to return loaded with Colombian Maria. This chapter of the story has a funny part, and that is that the demand for cannabis in these 2 countries was greater than that of concerts, so Howard focused on creating both new bands and touring his performances.



⚠️ Not everything was a bed of roses, first fall and later world expansion


In 1974 Mr. Nice was accused of introducing cannabis in the USA, but after being released on parole he decided to flee with Judy, for which he became a fugitive from justice . At that time, thanks to Malik, George Lane (Judy’s little brother) was found a job as a teacher at a language school in Karachi (Pakistan).

.In this way, the company had Patrick as an accountant in the USA, a host country for large quantities of cannabis, and George in Pakistan, a country that produces a large part of the hashish consumed worldwide.

At this time the business flows like few, to the point that it others is calculated that Mr. Nice moved more than 10% of the total cannabis consumed worldwide. According to the autobiography, in London every night about 3 tons of yerba were smoked, and each gram was brought by Howard and his team. During these years Judy and Howard lived well in this city, and in 1978 they had their first daughter, Amber.



📖 Second fall, wedding, Thailand, and legal business


In 1980 Howard and Judy were married, although the groom could not be present at the ceremony because he had been arrested. A shipment with 15 tons of Colombian yerba was seized in a remote lake in Scotland and the case looked really bad.

Mr. Nice bribed a Mexican policeman to testify on his behalf at the trial, and thanks to the university’s contacts he was able to “prove” that this shipment was part of an operation of the British intelligence service MI6, for which he was acquitted of this case. At that time the authorities took the opportunity to try him for the 1974 case in which he had fled, and he was sentenced to 3 years in prison, which he had to accept.

When he got out of jail, he continued doing what he liked the most, but began to combine it with new businesses, massage parlors with a happy ending in Thailand where he bought quality marijuana, a travel agency to go unnoticed, a clothing store in England where he grew in the basement hydroponic marijuana, etc.

This time in the life of Howard Marks is very entertaining, and in his biography he tells in detail some episodes that are really worth reading. Like when he found himself lost and drunk in Bangkok with a suitcase containing a million dollars in cash that he could barely carry. Or when he went out partying one night in this same city, inviting everyone, and as the night progressed there were more and more, with prostitutes, dwarves, and people of all kinds. And how can he forget when he landed completely drunk on a flight, and at the airport those from the were waiting for him DEA that he already knew, and when he saw them it occurred to him that it might be a good idea to approach them and ask if they were there for him.



⭐ Life in Mallorca and the third fall, the final one


In 1984 they decided to move to live from London to Mallorca, in principle to try to give the appearance of a normal family, but Mr. Nice continued at full capacity with its burgeoning business. Right now the DEA and the CIA were closely tracking him , but were unable to stop him on the spot, as Howard thought of everything down to the smallest detail.

At one point, Howard was so sure of himself that he seems to even be playing with the authorities that followed him. Proof of this is the chapter where he finds the locator that the DEA had put on the ship that was going to transport the cargo, and intelligently places it on a fixed high seas buoy, to make them think that they were standing on the high seas while they calmly introduced the hashish.

But luck also runs out, and when I least expected it it happened. One morning in 1988, while they were quietly at their residence in Mallorca, the police broke in and took Judy and Howard into custody, he was accused of drug smuggling on an “epic scale”, and she of conspiracy.



⛳ The darkest time of Mr. Nice’s life


Howard feared being extradited to the USA, but his wishes were not fulfilled and in the end he spent 25 years in Terre Haute prison in Indiana. Judy was luckier, but still had to spend 18 months in a Madrid jail, having to leave her children with her little sister, Masha.

The Marks couple had 3 children, who at that time were young, Amber was 10 years old, Francesca 7, and Patrick was only one year old. Masha’s partner at that time was an abuser, who among other things locked little Patrick in a dark room for hours. Between this and what he had to go through because he was away from his mother for a year and a half, and from his father for 7 years, Patrick still has the aftermath of his childhood today, a collateral victim of the life and work of Mr. Nice.

The hardest partread of Mr. Nice’s biography to is when he learns of his son’s accident while in Terre Haute Prison, unable to do anything about it and feeling very guilty. Patrick, with only 4 years, climbed on the roof of a house and jumped into the void. This left the little boy with back problems, and Howard seems to have marked him too, he did not explain what could go through a child’s head to do that … Or maybe he did explain it to him and it was what he did not allowed to be at peace.



🚀 The rebirth, the new Howard, and the legend of Mr. Nice


But not everything was going to be bad in prison, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and for the first time in a long time I had time to do other things. So he began to study law and write his autobiography, and boy did he take advantage of the time that studying allowed him to review his sentence and reduce a few years of sentence, and the book became a bestseller and later a movie.

In prison he also met characters of all kinds, from well-known Colombian drug traffickers, gang members, thieves, etc. Howard dedicated himself to teaching the prisoners, and got reviewed by some of them, earning everyone’s respect.

What in principle were going to be 25 years in prison remained at 7, and in 1995 Mr. Nice was released. At first he focused on promoting his autobiography, spending time bowling as a DJ, as a music producer, writing a monthly column in Loaded magazine, and basically taking advantage of his UK media pull.

Both he and his book were becoming more and more popular, and this also served him to become one of the references of cannabis activism, which at the end of the 90s was beginning to gain strength in some countries.


From Howard Marks to Mr. Nice, the stor
From Howard Marks to Mr. Nice, the story




🧐 Mr. Nice Seeds and the marijuana growing industry


During those years in Holland the White family of triumphed Shantibaba (Scott Blake)over all White Widow Strain, but also White Rhino and Great White Shark. In 1998 the tandem formed by Shantibaba and Neville Shoenmakers swept the High Times Cannabis Cup, highlighting Super SIlver Haze above the others. At that time they were partners of the company Green House, but this would be the last event, since right after they sold their shares in this company and left.

Howard Marks met Shantibaba shortly after, and after much thought they decided to create the best seed bank ever. They put together the more than 40 mother plants that Neville and Scott had assembled over the previous 20 years, and put all their experience together with Howard’s intelligence to carry it out, thusborn Mr. Nice Seedbank was.

This seed bank quickly became a benchmark within the cannabis sector, so much so that most brands on the market have copied its varieties. Howard contributed his image and aliases to expanding Mr. Nice Seedbank, and he could be seen at many trade shows and events signing books, taking photos, or chatting amiably with anyone who approached him.



🎬 Divorce of Judy, the family, and Mr. Nice the movie


In 2003 Judy separated from Howard after supposedly discovering that he had been unfaithful to her. His son Patrick is at that time 16 years old, and is in the care of his mother. Judy had been diagnosed with breast cancer shortly before, and is very disappointed in Howard entering another difficult time.

Today Amber is a lawyer, and her sister Francesca has a degree in philosophy and a yoga teacher, but Patrick was marked foreverby a terrible childhood, and to top it off the subsequent separation from his parents during his adolescence.

It was 2010 when the film Mr. Nice was released with a luxury cast ( Rhys Ifans, Chloë Sevigny, Elsa Pataky, Luís Tosar, etc.) and directed by Bernard Rose. In the film, all the members of the Marks family make cameos on Howard’s recommendation, something that made Patrick very excited, but that ended in a new fight with Judy, since when they appeared on the set Howard was drunk supposedly.


Here is the trailer of the movie Mr Nice:



👾 The death of Howard Marks and the legend of Mr. Nice


When Howard announced that he had cancer, many of us assumed it as when it comes to a near and dear person. It was 2015 and he was 69 years old, but that damn disease was progressing very fast, and even a strong and positive person like him suffered a lot.

So much so that only a year later he died, on April 10, 2016, and in a way the entire cannabis sector was orphaned, as it had served as an inspiration for many. That day will be marked for all of us who could meet him, a great person like Howard Marks died, but the most important thing is that a legend was born that will never die, that of the great Mister Nice.

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Fran Quesada Moya
Fran Quesada Moya

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