The Need for Weed


With a statewide vote to legalize medical marijuana on the horizon, experts on both sides of the issue debate the merits of Florida going to pot.

Jeff Kennedy showed up to his first appointment with a cancer doctor already knowing exactly how he was going to treat his chronic lymphocytic leukemia, a potentially fatal blood cancer.

There are many FDA-approved treatments, including chemotherapy, that are available. But Kennedy, who is in his mid-50s and lives in Boynton Beach, wasn’t interested in those.

His choice was Rick Simpson Oil, derived from marijuana plants. Through YouTube, chat rooms and websites like, people with cancer and other illnesses are offering testimonials to the masses about the oil slowing down and even curing their disease.

The way Kennedy sees it, it’s far cheaper than chemotherapy, and chemotherapy can be far more lethal than marijuana. Plus, smoking pot for his severe back pain already has allowed Kennedy (who was diag-nosed last July) to stop taking the opiates that made him feel lousy.

When he showed up to the oncologist’s office late last year, his white blood cell count—a barometer of the cancer’s onward march—already was three times normal. He was brashly wearing a T-shirt that said, “I’m a Patient Not a Criminal,” a reference to his organization and website that sells hats, shirts and beer cozies to raise money for awareness of marijuana’s medical benefits.

When his doctor opened the exam room door, she asked about the shirt.

He told her about the Simpson oil.

“This is how I’m going to treat my cancer,” Kennedy told her. Then, she “freaked out” and asked him to leave.

“When your numbers hit 50,000, you come back and see me,” he recalls her saying, referring to his ever-climbing white blood cell count.

At press time, Kennedy had not had additional blood work—but he was feeling good. He just wishes there was more awareness.

“It’s just taking the time to do the research and [get]rid of this brainwash that the government’s instilled in you over the last 80 years—it’s like, what a flippin’ lie,” says Kennedy, who gets his oil in California, where it’s legal. “I would not be fair to myself if I did not … try this first because I know from the stories I’m reading this is a successful drug.”

For more on medical benefits, expert opinions for and against medical marijuana, and more, pick up the May/June issue of Boca Raton magazine.