Up to now, you had to be a Revolutionary Clinics employee or partner to earn the title of one of our Revolutionary People. We’re changing that policy out of respect for a woman who has been a prolific contributor to the medical marijuana business for over 40 years.
Whether you’re a Revolutionary Clinics patient or you purchase cannabis at a different medical marijuana dispensary, you owe a heartfelt thank you to Alice O’Leary Randall and her late husband Robert. Known throughout the cannabis industry as the “First Lady of Medical Marijuana”, Alice is a huge reason why medical marijuana is legal here in Massachusetts and in so many other states.
It all started in 1975 when Alice’s husband Robert started experiencing the painful and debilitating effects of glaucoma. At just 25 years of age, Robert’s doctor told him he would most likely be blind by the time he was 30. One day, Robert decided to smoke a joint and was amazed by how much better he felt. Not only did the marijuana ease his pain, he could see better as well. Alice and Robert were amazed but also conflicted. Since marijuana was illegal in 1975, Alice and Robert decided to try growing their own plants on the deck of their home in Washington, D.C. Later that year, the couple was arrested for possession of four marijuana plants which essentially placed them on to the path of becoming medical marijuana advocates.
As they prepared for their trial, Alice and Robert were stunned to learn that the government was already aware that cannabis was an effective treatment for glaucoma. The idea that a beneficial product was being withheld from a suffering American because of a decades-old misclassification of cannabis as a Schedule 1 controlled substance infuriated Robert. He and Alice armed themselves with as much information as they could and documented the positive effects marijuana had on Robert’s glaucoma. Not only did they fight to keep themselves out of jail, they petitioned the federal government for permission to use their supplies of cannabis.
After two court sessions in 1976, Robert was found not guilty of marijuana possession and cultivation by reason of medical necessity.
Photo courtesy of Alice O’Leary Randall’s Facebook page
With their reputations restored, Alice and Robert could have gone on with their lives and pursued their dreams. But then the phone calls and letters started coming. Desperate calls for help from people suffering from epilepsy, cancer and multiple sclerosis. People from all over the country who heard Robert’s story, learned about his victory in court and wanted to know if he could help them get medical marijuana legal in their state. Alice and Robert were particularly moved by Lynn Pierson, a young man in New Mexico suffering from testicular cancer. Lynn had such a terrible reaction to chemotherapy, he stopped treatment until his doctor asked if he’d ever tried marijuana. Not only was Lynn able to tolerate the treatments, his appetite returned to the point where he actually gained weight. Thanks to Robert and Alice’s assistance and Lynn’s persistence, in 1978, New Mexico recognized marijuana’s medical value and provided a legal access to the drug for patients with either glaucoma or undergoing cancer chemotherapy.
Their victory in New Mexico was like tipping over the first domino that would eventually take us to where we are today. After New Mexico, Robert and Alice were successful in getting marijuana legalized for medical purposes in Illinois, Louisiana and Florida. Over the next twenty three years, many more states would follow in legalizing medical marijuana until Robert’s untimely death in 2001.
Here in Massachusetts, we’d have to wait eleven more years after Robert passed away for medical marijuana to be legalized. It’s anybody’s guess how much longer our state government would have deliberated if not for the successful case studies in other states that were made possible by Alice and Robert’s efforts. For this reason, and so many more, all of us at Revolutionary Clinics extend our heartfelt gratitude to Alice and her late husband Robert. These pioneers paved the way for the rapid acceptance of cannabis as a legitimate treatment for anxiety, sleep disorders, chronic pain and other qualifying conditions for a Massachusetts MMJ card.
After Robert passed away, Alice sought to fill the massive void he left behind through personal interaction with the people she and Robert had worked so hard to help. In her late forties, she went back to school to pursue her nursing degree. She worked as a hospice nurse where she helped countless patients cope with pain and anxiety until her retirement in 2012. So much had changed and so many more exciting things were happening in the medical marijuana space that Alice couldn’t resist the call to advocacy.
In 2014, she accepted her first speaking engagement at the Cannabis Nurse’s Association and went on to become an educational writer for Mary’s Medicinals. Her passion for sharing facts and patient success stories inspired her to become a regular contributor to Huffington Post and Cannabis Now Magazine. In 2019, she co-authored the book Pain-Free with CBD.
Today, Alice continues to write about cannabis, both for publications and on her own blog. She has a second blog where she shares photographs and random insights on the world around her in her elegant, yet approachable style. We reached out to Alice for more details about her life and experiences with Robert but we respect her busy schedule. If you’d like to learn more about Alice, we encourage you to like her on Facebook where we found this wonderful quote that offers a nice glimpse of her personality and why we decided to recognize her as a “Revolutionary Person”:
Yesterday would have been Robert Randall’s 71st birthday. Of course I thought of him. I heard from his sister, no surprise. But I was surprised that some old friends remembered. Surprised and heart-full. The ripples of his life continue to expand, touching lives so far beyond the time of his own existence. I am grateful to have lived long enough to see his work, our work, validated. And each time someone says “Thank you for all you have done,” I tie it with a little bow of love and send it out to Robert’s spirit, which seems never far away.