By: Pamela Jayne
At 70 years old, Joe is a large and outspoken man who is a passionate advocate of the Rick Simpson method of using highly concentrated cannabis oil to cure (yes, CURE!) cancer. He is the owner of a successful towing company, a husband of 30 years, a father and grandfather. He is also a veteran of the Vietnam War having served 23 years in the U.S. Navy. He now serves as a deacon in a Baptist church in National City and as an advocate for the miraculous healing power of the cannabis plant. Before being diagnosed with two different types of cancer, Joe had never even experimented with cannabis â€“ not even once.
It was during a routine blood work before having surgery for an old shoulder injury when doctors discovered Joe had a form of cancer called Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia. Fortunately, it was caught very early. Insistent upon going the natural, holistic route to ensure that the CLL didnâ€™t, in his words, â€œget out of hand,â€ Joe turned to the internet for information that the modern medical establishment is sadly lacking. He soon came across Rick Simpsonâ€™s website, www.phoenixtears.ca, which proved to be, quite literally, a lifesaver. For those who are not familiar with Rick Simpson and his cannabis oil, you should know that it may soon be the cornerstone of alternative medicine, especially in the treatment of cancer and diabetes.
â€œThere are basically only three ways the medical community treats cancer. They either poison you with chemo, cut it out of you, or they burn it off. Those are really the only options. If people knew that they could treat themselves with cannabis oil, and that it can actually cure almost every known form of cancer, it would be disastrous for the big pharmaceutical companies. I think thatâ€™s why our government doesnâ€™t allow it on a federal level â€“ they are too deep in the pockets of those companies.â€
Joe is eager to share what he has learned about the healing properties of THC, so he carries information cards around with him to hand out to people who may benefit from it. Although he does not consider himself to be an activist, he is definitely doing his part by sharing his experience and the knowledge he has amassed with those who are in need. As he says, â€œIâ€™m not the guy in front of City Hall with a poster, but I do stay informed on what is going on.â€ As far as the politics of cannabis, Joe says he doubts that he will see full legalization in his lifetime. â€œMaybe here in California,â€ he adds. â€œNo doubt that would be a catalyst for national change, because we all know that â€˜As California goes, so goes the nation.â€™â€
â€œCool, Grandpa!â€ That was the reaction of Joeâ€™s 17-year-old grandson when he recently came to visit and discovered the plants that are used to make Joeâ€™s medicine. Prior to the visit, Joe told his daughter that he grows his own medicine and she had no qualms whatsoever about her son being near a legitimate, legal grow room. It proved to be a teachable moment as Joe explained to the inquisitive teenager why and how he responsibly uses cannabis as medicine. When I asked if he was at all concerned about being harassed by law enforcement, he said, â€œNo, because what I am doing is so far below the amount of plants that I am legally allowed to have. We could grow more, but Iâ€™m only doing it for my own health; and if there is any surplus, it goes to friends or relatives who are patients and also need it.â€ As far as growing, Joe sticks to strong Indica strains, such as Northern Lights, because that is what is recommended by Rick Simpson for patients who are using cannabis to treat cancer. Once the plants have been harvested and cured, it takes about six to eight hours to make the oil that Joe consumes orally to prevent the CLL from progressing. The oil is so concentrated that his current dosage is approximately the size of a half of a grain of rice. Occasionally, when the pain from a recent hip surgery gets to be bad, he will increase the dosage. Because the cannabis oil is also highly effective for pain management, Joe has not had to take a prescription pain pill in nearly 18 months. Simply being free of the Vicodin, Percocet, and Tramadol is a blessing in and of itself. Joe also applies the cannabis oil to areas on his arms and face that have been affected by a type of skin cancer called Bowenâ€™s squamous cell carcinoma, to heal the wounds left behind after the cancerous cells had been removed and to prevent the cancer from spreading. When he lifted the large bandage off of his left arm to show me where his latest bout with skin cancer had been cut away, I was able to see how the oil actually works. Joe pointed out the area where he applies the cannabis oil and how it turns a milky shade of white. According to Rick Simpson, that is where the oil is actually drawing out the cancer cells and allowing the healthy skin to heal. Having seen it with my own eyes, I must say that it is quite remarkable. Even though Joe has had amazing results, he is quick to say, â€œI am not a medical professional, so I just tell people to go to the websites that I refer to and make their own decision.â€
Because he operates his own garden, it isnâ€™t often that he requires the services of a collective. However, there are times when he is between harvests and needs access to high quality, medical grade cannabis to make his oil, or maybe just to buy a few pre-made edibles to get him through. With tears of gratitude in his eyes, Joe told me how grateful he was to have been introduced to Hopper at The Green Door Collective in North Park. â€œI truly appreciate The Green Door. Hopper was the first person (in the medical cannabis community) who actually knew what he was talking about, and he was extremely kind. I told him I had leukemia, and he listened to me and gave me really good advice. Iâ€™ve been to other collectives and they are nice and do seem to be helping people, but the atmosphere is totally different. Itâ€™s very impersonal. Thatâ€™s why I prefer it here (The GDC), I can just sit down and talk. I am thankful for that.â€
It is nothing less than amazing that since he began cannabis therapy, neither one of the two forms of cancer Joe was diagnosed with has progressed. It is truly a testament to the power of being an informed patient, and not just going with the status quo. Joe summed up his view by saying, â€œI believe in the best of nature, and the best of science combined.â€ Asking for the best of both worlds is often written off as naÃ¯ve, but in this case, it just may be our only hope.