. . .the first time I saw cannabis used to manage pain and suffering. It was early 1979, I was just out of the Marine Corps and had arrived at my father’s house near Seattle. I needed a few months to decompress and gather my thoughts about what direction my life was about to take. Also staying at the house was my step-mother’s father, Paul. He was not well and quietly facing the last of his days.
At 78, he was a tall, stern, rock-fisted father of 9 children – a staunch conservative and a towering presence who could command respect with a single look.
At least when he could stand.
As I came through the door with my luggage, Paul was in the living room sitting on the couch. He was dressed neat in slacks and a button-down shirt but he was leaning forward to rest his head on a pillow that laid on the coffee table.
I set my things down and said “hello.” Paul didn’t reply. He just looked at me with hollow eyes.
At first, I didn’t understand. It was clear I had arrived in the middle of a situation. I could see Paul was not well, but there were no other clues.
As I settled in, the family quietly told me Paul had late-stage liver cancer and that it was both terminal and very painful.
Doctors and prescriptions had failed to relieve the intense pain and Paul would lay forward on the pillow because it was the least painful way to get through the day.
And as the days wore on, we could all see his iron will slipping away.
Then late one evening, the oldest of his grandsons came by after work with an ounce bag of cannabis. He suggested to Paul that he try some – that it was great for controlling pain and perhaps he would even be comfortable enough sit up.
Everyone knew Paul hated drugs and anything connected to them. To him, hippies, long hair, and rock & roll crazies were a social blight and Paul would grimace and wave his hand dismissively at any mention of it.
But cancer had arrived with heavy boots to usher Paul to the end of his journey and along the way it was slowly stealing the hard resolve from his face.
Paul slowly lifted a hand, took the bag of cannabis, and looked at it for a long moment. He handed it back, pursed his lips and in a whisper said, “Okay.”
Then he got up from the couch and, stooped way over, cautiously walked to a chair by the fireplace. When he smoked the joint, Paul wanted to be where he could blow the smoke up the chimney.
Even in his condition, he was not going to fill his daughter’s house with the smell of marijuana.
After he finished, Paul sat there for about an hour, peacefully staring at the fire and lost in thought. When he finally rose, he slowly stood up straight, looked around at everyone with the slightest trace of a smile and slowly nodded a yes.
That was the first time I had ever seen cannabis end suffering.
A few weeks later, cancer had the last word and Paul was gone.
I only knew him for a short time, but Paul left an indelible impression.
And these many years later, as I work to build this site, the memory of Paul is always resting somewhere out there just along the twilight.
I now have a rare opportunity to reach out and present material to help inform, teach, share, and encourage people to know more about this remarkable and widely misunderstood plant and how it can serve to make such a difference in so many people’s lives.
In recognition of the first time I saw cannabis work its magic, I dedicate this website to Paul, his courage, his dignity, and the night I saw him stand.