Editors Note: Robert
C. Randall was the first person to successfully gain legal
access to marijuana for medical use in the United States.
Bob Randall's work was a primary reason 33 states, in the
late 1970s and early 1980s, enacted legislation recognizing
marijuana's medical value -- in many cases through the establishment
of state-sponsored research programs; he played a pivotal
role in obtaining legal access to medical cannabis for a limited
number of other patients before the federal government closed
the program to new patients in the mid-1990s. He also was
fundamental in advancing the original NORML
rescheduling petition to historic hearings before Administrative
Law Judge Francis Young. Through these and other accomplishments
Bob Randall laid the foundation for the modern medical cannabis
reform movement, confronting such issues as the need for legal
access for all patients in the United States and the need
to distinguish the issue of medical access to cannabis from
issues related to recreational use or legalization. Alice
O'Leary is the widow of Robert Randall and along with Bob
the co-founder of the Alliance
for Cannabis Therapeutics (ACT). She currently resides
is Sarasota, Florida and is a nurse with Tidewell Hospice
and Palliative Care. The following remarks in remembrance
of Bob Randall were delivered at the 4th National Clinical
Conference on Cannabis Therapeutics, sponsored by Patients
Out of Time, in Santa Barbara, California on April 7th,
Thanks to Al Byrne, Mary Lynn Mathre, and
Out of Time for their hard work over the years and for
remembering Bob especially in this year of 2006 when there
are several milestones: June 2nd will mark the 5th anniversary
of his death; November 12th marks the 30th anniversary of
his receipt of federal supplies of marijuana for the treatment
of his glaucoma; and November 24th will be the 30th anniversary
of the decision in his celebrated legal case (U.S. v Randall)
which established the legal concept of medical necessity.
It is hard to encapsulate a life in a speech.
There are so many aspects of our life together and the more
than two decades of work that we devoted to the medical marijuana
issue that merit re-telling. In 1998 we wrote our memoirs
– Marijuana Rx: The Patient’s Fight for Medicinal
Pot – and it took us nearly 500-pages to tell the story
of our lives. So as I began preparing this speech I was perplexed
about the goal or the focus. But a fairly recent article,
part of the lead-up to this conference, gave me guidance.
It stated that Bob Randall “unwittingly instigated the
modern medical marijuana movement.” If I accomplish
anything here tonight I would hope that I demonstrate that
Bob’s efforts were anything but “unwitting”.
From the first moment that he learned federal officials were
aware of marijuana’s therapeutic utility he set his
course to defeat the prohibition of marijuana as a medicine.
So I decided to focus on the beginning, the
years 1975 to roughly 1980, because it was in those years
that the foundation was built for the later successes such
as Judge Young’s momentous decision in 1989, the expansion
of the Compassionate IND program in the 1990s, or the state
initiatives that also came in that decade.
Marijuana Rx, The Patients Fight for Medicinal Pot
by Robert C. Randall and Alice M. O'Leary
I will be using many quotes from our book,
Marijuana Rx because so much of that book is in Robert’s
own words. And oh, how he loved words. Few people are aware
that Robert was a trained rhetorician.
- the art of effective or persuasive speaking or writing,
esp. the use of figures of speech and other compositional
- language designed to have a persuasive or impressive
effect on its audience.
He had a Master’s degree in Rhetoric
and relished the process of debate and discussion. After graduation
from college in 1971, he went to Washington, D.C. hoping to
write great political speeches that would sway hearts, enlighten
minds, and perhaps change the course of history.
“We are storytellers to the
gods. And the gods like a good story,particularly
one of great struggles, battles, blindness, death, and
love. The safari of my soul has had all those elements.”
Marijuana Rx, page 3
But the gods had a different plan for Robert
and he would find himself presented with an opportunity to
change the course of American thought and policy all on his
own. He rose to the occasion in a stunningly effective way
There are some here today who knew Robert.
Most will recall him as a jovial, middle-age fellow, quick
with a joke, extremely articulate (federal officials prefer
the term “glib”), focused like a laser beam on
the issue of medical access to marijuana, and critical of
those whom he felt were using the issue to further the cause
of recreational drug use.
Early portrait of Bob Randall
Robert was born in Sarasota, FL in 1948.
As he would later write, “I arrived into Eden, had loving
parents, Thelma and Carl, and a grand passage from infancy
to literacy.” With his brother Dick and sister Susan
he enjoyed a fairly conventional childhood. Bob loved the
sun, the beach, cooking out and was even a member of the high
Baby Bob with mother Thelma,
Christmas at the Randall
Bob Randall ready to perform with his High School
on Page 2