The story really begins in 1969 when Rick Simpson's 22-year-old cousin was diagnosed with cancer. The doctors did an operation, and then afterwards they give him chemo. He dropped from 200 pounds down to 120 pounds. Three years later, in 1972, he came home on vacation. They were talking one day and he collapsed right in front of Simpson. He suspected it was probably the cancer back, but he was hoping it wasn't. As soon as he went in to seeing the doctors, they just said, "You've got three to six months to live."
Within three months he was dead. Simpson watched him get down to about 55 pounds. His cousin was more like a brother to him. They grew up together in the country. They knew each other intimately. It really affected him quite badly. About three years later, he was leaving work one day. He just got in the car and he turned on the radio and the local radio station in Amherst, CKDH, they were reading a report on the radio station about THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, killing cancer cells. Of course, the announcer was laughing like a fool when he was making these statements, so Simpson didn't know whether to take it seriously or not. Time went on and he never heard anything more about THC killing cancer cells or anything, so he thought it was just some type of hoax.
In 1997, Simpson had a severe head injury at work. He wound up with what they call post-concussion syndrome. He went through the medical system. He took their pills for five years. He took every chemical they threw at him. They did nothing but make him worse. In 1998, about a year after he was injured, he saw an episode of The Nature of Things with Dr. David Suzuki called Reefer Madness 2. It showed all these people on there smoking pot for their medical problems. They were being helped.
He was quite desperate, so he went out and he got some pot from friends nearby. He smoked it, and it did more for him than anything the doctors were giving him. He went back to the doctors. Every doctor he saw he asked them for prescriptions for hemp, but not one doctor would give him a prescription. Then in 1999, he was in his doctor's office. When Simpson was talking to him… of course, he was always asking for a prescription, and again he refused him. Simpson asked the doctor that day when he was in there, he said, "What you would think if I, as opposed to smoke the plant material, what would you think if I made the essential oil of the plant and ingested it?" The doctor said that that would be a much more medicinal way to use the substance, but he still wouldn't give him a prescription.
Directed by: Chris T. Harrigan