In most countries, using hemp is prohibited even for medical purposes. Self-medication with cannabis has brought a great number of normally law-abiding citizens into conflict with the legal system. Patients often feel compelled to engage in a political struggle for not only their lives or health, but for their freedom as well. People often become criminals merely for obtaining their needed medicine. Willingly or not, they sometimes become known as civil rights activists and freedom fighters. The international fight to get the sick and dying access to medically approved cannabis has been going on for many decades now.
Robert Randall was the first legal medical marijuana patient in the U.S. since cannabis prohibition began in 1937. At 25 years of age he was told he would be blind before he turned 30; he kept his eyesight, however, thanks to marijuana until he died of AIDS 28 years later. Forced to break the law to save his eyesight, Bob sued the federal government to obtain legal access to marijuana and won, then continued to work on behalf of other patients. Randall convinced the judge that he would have to break the law, for marijuana kept him from going blind. In 1976, D.C. Superior Court Judge James A. Washington ruled that the patient had established a defense of medical necessity. Unfortunately, the federal program providing legal cannabis medicine to patients was soon closed down by the government. Randall was an inspiration to countless other medical freedom fighters around the world. Keith Stroup, executive director of NORML called him “the father of the medical marijuana movement.” By 2011, medical marijuana has become legal in 15 states. The drug is commonly prescribed for glaucoma, nausea, poor appetite, and pain.
Robert Randall and Alice O’Leary in their book Marijuana Rx: The Patients’ Fight For Medicinal Pot describe the situation of medical marijuana users in the USA in harsh words: bureaucrats are willing to arrest, jail, blind, cripple and even kill seriously ill people to maintain “the consistent message” of “zero tolerance” and fight “the evil weed”. There is also a cult of synthesis: only drugs invented and owned by large companies are welcome; any natural medicine that is easy to grow at little or no cost but cannot be patented, threatens the corporate monopoly. For example, a synthetic anti-vomiting drug used by cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy may even cost $600 a dose, usually $1500 a day. By comparison, marijuana controls vomiting better and costs 50 cents a day. The authors conclude that the American people are starting to realize their government is increasingly anti-democratic and much too often run by liars and crooks. In the 1970s and 1980s two-thirds of the States legislatively mandated that marijuana had medical value, but the unelected drug warriors in Washington blocked these popular state efforts. The Attorney General threatened to arrest any doctor who dared to even mention marijuana’s medical use with a patient. The government also proposed a ban on any and all research into the prohibited plant’s potential benefits.
Despite all the propaganda, harsh laws, suppressions and denials by governments, patients have discovered hemp’s healing powers for themselves and used it, trusting their own intuition, folk tradition, or gossip. Only recently have various independent experts started to notice that the masses were right in their judgment about this famed but illegal folk remedy.
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