Randall was 24 when told that he'd be blinded by severe glaucoma before he turned 30. Four years later, he became the first...


MARIJUANA RX: The Patients' Fight for Medicinal Pot

Randall was 24 when told that he'd be blinded by severe glaucoma before he turned 30. Four years later, he became the first American to gain access to marijuana for medical purposes; two decades later, be found the drug would also support his fight against AIDS. This sometimes strident account tells how, for 20 years, Randall struggled to secure marijuana as a medication through sundry legal/political machinations. He and his co-author O'Leary's saga began in 1973 when Randall discovered, while smoking marijuana just for fun, that the glaucoma-related tri-colored rings obscuring his vision had disappeared. A search of the medical literature revealed the suggestion that marijuana could indeed return dangerously high intraocular pressures (caused by glaucoma) to normal levels, thereby relieving visual disturbances. In 1975, however, Randall and O'Leary were arrested for growing marijuana in their Washington, D.C., apartment. As they point out here, there were advantages to being arrested in the nation's capital: Sources of medical and legal information and assistance were abundant. Randall duly made the rounds of agencies and organizations, looking for lawyers and doctors to take on the government drug regulators: the FDA, the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, et al. Recounting these sorties, Randall and O'Leary (who together co-founded a medical marijuana advocacy group) at times make querulous guides (for instance, thoroughly dissing a National Eye Institute administrator: ""It was his incredibly rude manner, his abrupt disingenuousness that was so distasteful"") and pull no punches, naming names throughout. Yet the authors also score telling points: The evidence persuasively suggests that smoking marijuana can treat glaucoma effectively and can relieve nausea and increase appetite in people being treated for cancer and AIDS. An eccentric story, but timely and ultimately worthwhile.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1999


Page Count: 528

Publisher: Thunder's Mouth

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1998

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