By Alice O’Leary Randall
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Some people try to forget the day they were arrested for marijuana possession but, with the hindsight of four decades, I can say it was one of the best things that ever happened to us.
It was August 24, 1975 and my husband, Robert C. Randall, and I were living a rather ordinary life, just eight blocks from the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. in a neighborhood that could kindly be referred to as “pre-gentrification.” The Metropolitan Police executed the warrant, ransacked our house and removed six marijuana plants from our sun deck. It was, of course, traumatic and life-changing.
But 15 months later we had parleyed our arrest into a case of historic proportions and launched the medical marijuana movement in the U.S. My late husband had glaucoma and accidentally discovered that marijuana lowered the pressures that build in the eye and starve the optic nerve. In 1975, the medical use of cannabis was barely known. In fact, we were certain that we were the only ones to have discovered this phenomena so we kept quiet and did what any sane person would do — we broke the law to help save Robert’s sight.