You might know the name Robert Randall as the first legal, medical marijuana patient in the whole country of the U.S., but you might not know his story and his struggle to fight for medical marijuana rights.
Robert Randall is an American advocate who founded the Alliance for Cannabis Therapeutics. He died at the age of 53 on June 2, 2001, on a Saturday at his home. Since the time he discovered the positive use of marijuana, he never stopped smoking it until his last breath. It was his saving grace, the medicine which he relied on to be his treatment for many years.
But what happened between Randall and marijuana? How was he able to convince the government to approve his petition? What had become of marijuana in the U.S. after that?
In the 1970s, the government of the United States of America had successfully put down cannabis all over their country and at the same time, influenced other world governments to follow suit with their actions. This cannabis, until today in some places, has been the subject of prohibition and is labelled as a harmful drug.
Dark times in cannabis came when the government would only fund researches exposing the destructive effects of cannabis and when a moment of revelation came, shedding light to the benefits of it, studies were instantly shut down.
But it was Robert C. Randall who persistently sought to reveal the truth about the fascinating reality of this herb. Finally, in 1976, he successfully persuaded and opened the eyes of the US government to acknowledge the medical uses of cannabis.
Randall’s Life-changing Moment
He was still a college student when Robert Randall first tried weed. After receiving his degree, he moved to Washington, D.C to pursue his career, from there, he seems to have stopped smoking weed.
Until twelve months later, when he was suddenly diagnosed with advanced glaucoma. All the dreams and ambitions he had then vanished. He ended up being unemployed and on welfare. Not long after that, he started to feel the brunt of his sickness, and the effects began to take a toll on his body, especially on his eyes where he could feel the pressure building in. It was no surprise that he could be blind by thirty.
Shortly after his diagnosis, Robert was hanging out and sitting around with his few friends, when suddenly one of them offered him a joint. Randall accepted the offer right away because he was resolute to forget his troubles for a night and it has been a long time since he tried one anyway that’s why he risked trying one.
Soon after, as he was indulging himself with the familiar feeling of getting high, he took a quick look outside and realized that the usual illuminating halos around the street lights—a prominent symptom of glaucoma—had vanished. He gave an explanation two years later that this was his “eureka” moment or the moment when he understood something, he was so clueless about before.
“It was a singular moment. I immediately drew the connection between the use of marijuana and the now-absent haloes. Indeed, parts of my brain absorbed the connection so quickly and so assuredly that I was certain I must be stoned, which of course I was. I tried to follow the exploding synaptic spasm but was quickly left behind”, says Robert Randall.
In the end, what he realized became what was accepted as a personal fact. Marijuana was, indeed easing his symptoms and that he was improving. His intraocular pressure returned to the usual safe range.
His doctor was at a loss, but Robert Randall did not risk mentioning marijuana as a self-prescribed treatment. Still, he told very few, and selected, people about it. Robert was purely yearning to get a move on his life and enjoy the vision he saved for himself. One of the people he did tell was later to be his wife, Alice O’Leary.
Medical Marijuana Movement: The First Step Taken For The Movement
After eighteen months of treating his glaucoma using marijuana, they were finally caught growing cannabis on their sun deck. Robert’s management of his glaucoma using cannabis convinced them and ended up not wanting to plead guilty. Instead, Robert should pay a fine and get away with a misdemeanor. Luck was on their side and played its part.
Later on, they discovered that the US federal government was researching cannabis, and it exposed that marijuana is indeed advantageous for treating glaucoma. Robert then contacted the researcher immediately, and after studying for ten days, the truth was uncovered about how Robert would, without doubt, go blind if he didn’t use marijuana as his treatment.
In November 1976, Robert Randall was ultimately pleaded not guilty of marijuana cultivation with the reason of it being a medical necessity. After that, the federal government approved his petition to have access to federal supplies marijuana. At that time, Robert officially became the only person in the whole country who was able to possess cannabis for medical purposes legally. It became the scoop of the news and created the medical marijuana movement.
Soon, Robert Randall and his wife heard from many other people who had benefited from the healing effects of marijuana. Subsequently, in April of 1977, 13 patients filed a petition with the US Attorney General’s office to postpone cannabis. The request was ineffective. But there were many lessons learned about the outburst for the issue of cannabis.
Robert Randall: The Father of Medical Marijuana Movement
From the years 1978 to 1981, Randall and his wife worked hand-in-hand with patients all over the country. 34 states finally amended their already existing laws. The couple founded the Alliance for Marijuana Therapeutics and endeavored to create statewide research programs. Moreover, they also drafted their petition for federal legislation to which at that point had 110 guarantors.
The activism for marijuana was not easy. The Alliance struggled and was always the lead party for rescheduling hearings before the Administrative Law Judge of the DEA. In an early upheaval, the medical cannabis petition was suggested to be rescheduled by the Judge, and to everyone’s disappointment, the movement was invalidated in the Appeals Court.
After that, they sought another way to make a petition again and founded MARS or the Marijuana AIDS Research Service. This paved the way for hundreds of AIDS patients to file requests for access to medical marijuana. As a sign of how much pressure the government was in, they ended up shutting down the only legal access program in the country. The public responded with outbursts of rage over this cold-hearted act, and immediately lead to the successful approval of Prop 215 in California.
Robert engaged with the activity for more than 20 years. He managed the movement even when his free speech was in danger, and his source of legally acquired medical marijuana was challenged several times.
Robert Randall brings into effect again the medical effects of marijuana to the public. His degree in rhetoric made him an accomplished and persuasive orator and debater. While waiting for his death in 2001, he firmly dedicated himself to the rights of the patients to have access and use medical cannabis.
And after 40 years, cannabis as medicine made a huge leap and was accepted. It was all because of the tenacious Robert Randall, the father of the medical marijuana movement, that marijuana, up until this day, continues to cure millions of patients not only in the US but also in other parts of the world. What he did became a huge breakthrough in the medicine world and was highly respected by all. If he could see what the world has become today, he would be astounded by much, and he changed it since the day he discovered the beneficial effects of marijuana (Canna Connection, 2019).
Legal Medical Marijuana Today
In the United States, marijuana remains to be the most commonly used psychotropic drug next to alcohol. More than 11.8 million young adults in 2018, mostly men than women, were noted to have used marijuana in the past year.
According to the monitoring system of the health impacts of drugs, the Drug Abuse Warning Network or DAWN, medical emergencies associated with marijuana have increased over the years. It was estimated that there were a total of approximately 456,000 drug-related emergency department visits in the United States, this includes the mention of marijuana use in the medical record, a growth of 21% since 2009. Two-thirds of the patients were observed to be occurring in the male population; 13% were between the ages of 12 and 17. The reason for the increase was not identified, whether or not it was because of increased potency (the amount of THC) of marijuana. But it was of the essence to note that the mention of increase with the use of medical marijuana is not a fundamental indication that these kinds of emergencies were correctly linked to marijuana intoxication (National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2020).
May Robert Randall’s beautiful soul rest in wonder as we carry on to his legacy today and in the years to come.