Cowan was born in 1940 in Fort Worth, Texas, where he attended public schools and graduated from Arlington Heights High School in 1958.
Cowan has extensive experience with both privately and publicly owned companies. After graduating from Yale University in 1962 with a degree in Economics, he served in executive positions in various family companies, involved in manufacturing and natural resources, some of which were publicly owned.
He is a cofounder of two publicly owned medical cannabis companies and serves a consultant to others in the cannabis industry.
At Yale, he was president of the Yale Young Republicans and Chairman of the Party of the Right in the Yale Political Union.
He was also a founding member of Young Americans for Freedom, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Young_Americans_for_Freedom the Conservative student group launched in 1960 by the late William F. Buckley, Jr.
Buckley’s friendship became a lifelong influence on Cowan.
Cowan has been been involved in the marijuana reform movement, almost since its inception. On December 6, 1972 Buckley’s National Review magazine published (as a cover article) “Why Conservatives Should Support the Legalization of Marijuana.”
In his book Smoke and Mirrors, Dan Baum said that this article “opened a second front in the War on Drugs.” Time Magazine
and the New York Times even carried stories about the article.
Fourteen years later, on December 5, 1986, National Review also published (again as a cover article): “How the Narcs Created Crack.”
This article has been cited in various scholarly journals as the origin of the economics of contraband, “The Iron Law of Prohibition: the harder the enforcement, the harder the drugs.” See The Iron Law of Prohibition
Cowan also served as the Executive Director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws www.NORML.org from 1992 to 1995, and at various times has been active in the Libertarian Party.
When he was NORML Executive Director the NORML Board included such figures as Dr. Lester Grinspoon, Nobel Laureate Kary Mullis PhD, Ann Druyan, co-producer of Cosmos (with her late husband, Carl Sagan), Cato Institute’s David Boaz and others.
Writings on other subjects have appeared in a variety of newspapers and other publications, including the Atlantic Monthly. Cowan’s television appearances included interviews on numerous news programs, including CNN, and a variety of talk shows.
In 1997 Cowan launched MarijuanaNews.com, which has been called the first marijuana blog. (MarijuanaNews is currently being reworked and is offline.)
He has debated in the Oxford Union, and has spoken before a committee of the Congress of the Republic of Mexico. Currently, Cowan is writing columns on marijuana legalization and other subjects that are published on ….
Cowan has lived in Holland and Spain, and knows many of the leaders of the cannabis industry in Europe. Currently, he divides his time between the US and Spain.