Former University of La Verne student and Gulf War veteran Jon Marsh does not get stoned, he medicates, and through years of marijuana advocacy he is helping those who need the right medication.
With 20 years of marijuana advocacy under his belt, Marsh currently runs the Facebook page “Cannabis Oil Success Stories” that has more than 26,000 members. The page serves as a forum for cancer patients and survivors to tell their stories of sickness and how medical cannabis has helped them in the process. Marsh, 46, is also preparing to host his own community access television show in Somerville, Mass., where he lives, that promotes the use and education of medical cannabis. He is the founder of The Cannabis Consultants, a website dedicated to all the fields of the cannabis industry.
“In 1993 I decided medical cannabis was right for me,” Marsh said. “I began researching it, along with industrial hemp.”
Bob Calkin, president of the Cannabis Careers Institute, sees a huge shift the marijuana, cannabis and hemp industry, due-in-part to advocates like Marsh.
“There are so many different business opportunities in the cannabis industry,” Calkin said. “Many people don’t know that most of the jobs being created have nothing to do with growing or selling marijuana. Now people can become green accountants, green attorneys, green electricians.”
Marsh’s green journey began by wearing the green and orange of the University of La Verne. He began at ULV in the fall of 1986 and was a long way from his hometown of Ilwaco, Wash., which has a population of a little more than 900. At ULV Marsh dabbled with majors and courses, but says he enjoyed journalism the most. During his time at La Verne, Marsh participated in a number of activities and sports and was very involved on campus. In 1987, Marsh announced volleyball, basketball and baseball games. He served as the sports editor for the Campus Times, pledged and initiated for Delta Sigma Phi in 1986, ran track and had a quick stint on the football team under coach Roland Ortmayer. Marsh was also an orientation week leader for the 1987 freshman class.
As an editor on the Campus Times, Marsh used it as an opportunity to speak his mind through his editorials and often criticized the dry campus rules at ULV. Marsh left the University in the spring of 1989 and did not graduate.
“I hadn’t experienced alcohol until late in my senior year of high school,” Marsh said. “So when I got to La Verne I let partying become the focus, not grades or classes.”
After leaving La Verne Marsh went back home. The soon-to-be marijuana advocate, went to go talk to a Marine recruiter and joined. After boot camp and the School of Infantry, Marsh was stationed in Oceanside for two months until his unit was selected to ship out to Operation Desert Shield, later known as Desert Storm. On Dec. 1, 1990, Marsh was shipped out on a journey that would change his life.
“I got sick on the way back from Desert Storm in June of 1991,” Marsh said. “When I got out of the Marines in 1993 I told the (Veterans Affairs) after a couple visits that I felt they were not being forthcoming and I was going to treat myself, if I had Gulf War Syndrome, with cannabis.”
Gulf War Syndrome is a prominent condition affecting Gulf War veterans with medically unexplained chronic symptoms that include fatigue, headaches, joint pain, indigestion, insomnia, dizziness, respiratory disorders and memory problems, according to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs.
“I began to treat myself of what I felt were more than half of the symptoms of Gulf War Syndrome,” Marsh said.
Marsh began advocating for hemp and marijuana after reading “The Emperor Wears No Clothes” and “Hemp: Lifeline to the Future.”
“(They are) amazing collections of history and all things you wish to know about hemp and cannabis,” Marsh said.
In the spring of 1994 Marsh began self-medicating and began growing his own garden.
“My goal in 1994 was to amass all activists and those in the industry under one umbrella,” Marsh said. “Since I am interested in the medical aspects of cannabis, The Cannabis Consultants was born.”
Marsh also created the Facebook page “Cannabis Oil Success Stories,” which started two years ago and has already amassed more than 26,000 followers.
“Most cancer patients find us last, after exhausting their energy and finances,” Marsh said. “But if we were the first group that cancer patients called, we’d have about a 9-in-10 chance of treating a cancer into remission and NED (no evidence of disease) for five years.”
Marsh is in the process of contacting Bermuda, Haiti, India and Jamaica about setting up cannabis extract systems for their respective countries.
“(I want to) help them become destinations where cancer patients can flock and heal rather than be fed chemo and radiation here in the United States,” Marsh said.
Pamela Haymes, a co-administrator for the Facebook page, believes that Marsh is a man of many convictions and will be doing this for a long time and is one of her personal heroes.
“He heals people he comes in contact with. It is in his nature, he has been an activist since he came out of the womb, he can’t help himself, he will die an activist,” Haymes said. “He was injured as a marine and this made him even more committed in his approach to morally educating people on how cannabis ought to be used to save lives.”
Marsh believes medical cannabis still has a ways to go.
“Medical cannabis is changing for the worse at the moment,” Marsh said. “I am hoping to work with pro-cannabis legislators to see that medical programs are left unscathed by the recent legalizations in Washington and Colorado.”
According to Marsh, legislators are gutting medical programs and forcing patients to use the state ran, over-priced cannabis outlets.
“It’s sick how patients who fought to get this issue into the spotlight in the mid-1990s are now being used as pawns in the state for-profit businesses,” Marsh said. “Medical cannabis programs at the state level, as far as I know, are all self-sufficient and do not require state or federal funding.”
As for coming back to California, Marsh is hopeful about starting a collective in Woodland Hills.
“I will eventually have a collective or a means for residents of La Verne and the surrounding communities to access the medical cannabis extracts that are the focus of my business,” Marsh said.
The cannabis extracts Marsh uses are processed with just alcohol and cannabis and are treating various types of cancer, diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and leukemia, according to Marsh.
“I can say that after nothing but cannabis for medicine over the past 20 years, my recent reports from blood work at the V.A. show me healthy as can be,” Marsh said.
Christian Orozco can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.