A senior spokesperson for the medical marijuana movement, co-founded in 1976 with her late husband, Robert C. Randall, the first person in the U.S. to legally receive medical marijuana. Following her husband’s untimely death in 2001, Alice took a well-earned break from more than two decades on the frontlines of the medical marijuana movement and embarked on a nursing career. She has continued to educate and celebrate the contributions of many brave individuals who courageously fought for medical access to cannabis.
Medical Marijuana Movement
Once called “First Lady of the medical marijuana movement,” Alice O’Leary-Randall communicates her singular perspective on the emotional and long-running movement to legalize marijuana as medicine.
She was literally there at the start when she and Robert were arrested in 1975 for marijuana possession. One year later the couple made legal and medical history when a criminal court ruled that Randall’s use of marijuana was a medical necessity and he obtained legal supplies of marijuana from the federal government to treat his glaucoma.
For two decades Robert and Alice were advocates for removal of the prohibitions against the medical use of cannabis. In the late 1970s they helped enact 35 state laws that recognized marijuana’s medical value and attempted to establish state-sponsored research programs (the federal government thwarted these efforts). In 1980 they founded the Alliance for Cannabis Therapeutics (ACT), the first non-profit organization dedicated solely to resolving the medical marijuana issue. ACT drafted national legislation that was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives and had 110 co-sponsors but was blocked by the “Just Say No” campaign of the Reagan Administration. ACT served as the primary plaintiff in the historic DEA hearing on marijuana’s medical utility in the mid-1980s. In the 1990s, Alice and Robert secured funding from a Chicago-based backer and took the medical marijuana movement to new heights, paving the way for state ballot initiatives that have secured legal medical access to marijuana for citizens of seventeen states. Their personal battle is chronicled in their memoir, the highly respected Marijuana RX: The Patients’ Fight for Medicinal Pot.
Hospice and nursing
From 2006 to 2012 Alice worked as a grief specialist and nurse for Tidewell Hospice in Sarasota, Florida. She also worked in oncology and emergency medicine in Southwest Florida. Additionally she utilized her nursing skills on medical missions to Haiti, Peru, Uganda and India where she was able to assist just one month after the tragic tsunami of 2004.
Alliance for Cannabis Therapeutics, Director, 1980- 1995
- Society for Scholarly Publishing, Administrative Officer, 1981-1989
- National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), Coordinator Medical Reclassification Project, 1978-1980
- National Woman’s Health Network, Membership Coordinator 1976-1977.
In the late 1980s Alice founded Galen Press that compiled and released five massive volumes of information collected between 1986-1987 during marijuana rescheduling hearings conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). These court-ordered hearings, spearheaded by ACT, constituted the most complete investigation of marijuana’s medical utility in the 20th century. Galen Press has a second imprint, Looking Glass Publications, for non-marijuana related titles.
Education: B.A., University of South Florida; Licensed Practical Nurse, SCTI, Sarasota, FL; and certification in thanatology from the Association on Death Education and Counseling.
Publications: Medical Marijuana in America: Memoir of a Pioneer, by Alice O’Leary-Randall (CreateSpace Publishing, 2014); Marijuana Rx: The Patient’s Fight for Medicinal Pot, Robert Randall and Alice O’Leary (Thunder’s Mouth Press, 1998); Myakka River State Park: A Small Tribute, by Alice O’Leary (Looking Glass Publications, 2012).
Highlight speaking engagements
- Women Grow, Keynote Speaker Inaugural Event, January 2016, St. Petersburg, FL.
- United in Compassion, Medical Symposium, May 2016, Sydney, Australia.
- “Nurses’ Medical Cannabis Workshop,” United Patients Group, May 2016, San Rafael, CA
National Medical Unity Conference, Americans for Safe Access Conference – March 2015, Washington, DC
“Every Patient Deserves a Nurse” at Dixie Elixir in Denver. April 17, 2015
Core Curriculum for Cannabis Nurses, ACNA, May 21, 2015, West Palm Beach
“The Ever Morphing Bigotry of Marijuana Prohibition,” Patients Out of Time, May 22, 2015, West Palm Beach
Women Grow in Asheville, NC May 7th
“The Less Popular Cannabinoids,” Rossmoor Senior Center, June , 2015, Walnut Creek, California
San Francisco Bay Area Hospice & Palliative Care Nurses Association, November 14, 2015, Napa, California
Prior to 2015
American Cannabis Nurses Association Core Curriculum Cannabis Nursing Workshop, The Eighth National Clinical Conference on Cannabis Therapeutics, Portland, OR, May 8, 2014.
“Medical Marijuana: Everything You Wanted to Know But Were Afraid to Ask,” Plymouth Harbor Retirement Community, Sarasota, FL, January 2014.
“Cannabis & the Endocannabinoid Sytem: What Nurses and Medical Health Care Professionals Need to Know,” Lansing Community College, Lansing, MI, September 2013.
“The Grass Roots Movement: 30 Years Revisited,” R.C. Randall Memorial Wellness Center Dedication, Lansing, MI, September 2012.
“Gen-X Grieving Patterns,” Assn. of Death Education and Counseling (ADEC) national conference in Atlanta, GA, March 2012.
“The Impact of Traumatic Death On The Community,” Grief Education and Support Center, Sarasota, FL, October 2011.
“In Pot We Trust,” 2007 Showtime documentary. In regular rotation on cable.
“Robert Randall Tribute,” 4th National Clinical Conference on Cannabis Therapeutics, Santa Barbara, CA, April 2006.
Panel member, “Cannabis Spouses Speak,” 4th National Clinical Conference on Cannabis Therapeutics, Santa Barbara, CA, April 2006.
In addition Alice has given dozens of radio and press interviews. She was a panel speaker at NORML Conferences from 1978- 1981. In February 1980 she was a panel speaker at the 1st International Cannabis Legalization Conference in Amsterdam, Holland.
Alice is available for press, radio and TV interviews.