Rick Simpson is perhaps the most unlikely individual on this list to receive recognition for his contributions to the cannabis space—he is simply a medical marijuana patient with a profound story to share.
However, in the cannabis culture of 2017, “Rick Simpson Oil,” or “RSO,” is a term with widespread recognition, as it denotes a form of cannabis oil that is esteemed for its health benefits.
Simpson, a Canadian, worked a majority of his adult life as a maintenance tech in a local hospital—often times being exposed to volatile chemicals in poorly ventilated portions of the building.
In time, and due to prolonged exposures to these noxious substances, Simpson experienced a “nervous system shock” and passed out at his workplace. After this initial medical incident, Simpson was plagued with nausea, dizziness, and ringing in his ears.
Following the advice of his doctors, Simpson tried time and again to treat these debilitating symptoms with prescription medications, with little to no relief. Then, as fate would have it, Simpson saw a documentary on television about the medical benefits of cannabis.
He followed the advice of the marijuana documentary and began treating his symptoms with the herb, and was pleased with the results. This instance was Simpson’s first encounter with the wide-ranging benefits of medical marijuana.
Simpson’s initial experiences on a personal level with medical cannabis were also quite impactful. He subsequently began cultivating the plant and making his own extracts and concentrates.
To this end, Simpson ingested cannabis oil on a daily basis as part of his regular health routine, becoming a firm believer in the healing capabilities of the plant.
As circumstances would have it, Simpson wound up contracting basal cell carcinoma skin cancer in 2003—whether the cause of the cancer can be attributed to his exposures to noxious chemicals remains unknown.
Upon hearing his diagnoses, Simpson heeded the advice of his Canadian doctors and attempted to have the cancerous growths removed from his body via surgery.
However, these surgeries proved futile in controlling the disease and the cancer continued to grow. At this point, Simpson decided to give medical marijuana a try in treating his skin cancer.
To add a new twist to Simpson’s tale, instead of ingesting cannabis oil for his skin cancer, he put the oil on the inside of bandages that were then placed on the cancerous growths.
Amazingly, after having the cannabis oil soaked bandages on his skin for only four days, the cancer was completely gone.
After Simpson’s unprecedented recovery, he dedicated his life to spreading awareness about the medical benefits of cannabis. Simpson undertook a massive grassroots effort to supply patients in need with medical marijuana in Canada… for free.
In time, it is reported that Simpson supplied over 5,000 Canadians with free medical marijuana—starting his renown as a public figure in the cannabis space.
In 2005, Simpson’s rise as a champion of the medical marijuana culture also caught the attention of Canadian law enforcement, which arrested him for the cultivation of over 2,000 plants—all of which he planned on making into oil for free distribution.
While Simpson only wound up receiving a $2,000 fine for this initial arrest, he became a target for law enforcement. This attention would plague him for years.
Nonetheless, Simpson reportedly treated, and helped cure, hundreds of cancer patients through his grassroots, altruistic advocacy efforts.