Summary: Alice O’Leary-Randall is 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 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. Her book, Medical Marijuana in America: Memoir of a Pioneer was released in April 2014.
Medical Marijuana Experience: 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.
For two decades, she and her husband, Robert C. Randall, were advocates for medical access to marijuana. Robert, who had advanced glaucoma at a young age, discovered that he actually saw better after smoking pot. In 1976 he became the first U.S. citizen to have marijuana prescribed for a medical condition. Their personal battle is chronicled in their memoir, the highly respected Marijuana RX: The Patients’ Fight for Medicinal Pot. In the late 1970s Alice and Robert 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 and drafted national legislation that was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives and had 110 co-sponsors. ACT served as the primary plaintiff in the historic DEA hearing on marijuana’s medical utility in the mid-1980s. In the ’90s, 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 twenty-one states and the District of Columbia.
Hospice and nursing: From 2006 to 2012 O’Leary-Randall worked as a grief specialist and nurse for Tidewell Hospice, She also worked in oncology and emergency rooms 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.
Association management: 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; and National Woman’s Health Network, Membership Coordinator 1976-1977.
Publishing Company: 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.