Monday May 20, 2013
Cannabis Community Mourns Passing of Ric SmithJoy Graves Salem-News.com Cannabis De-Classified
"Munchies Save Lives!" was Ric's favorite motto
(SEATTLE) - A beloved & irreplaceable treasure of the Washington Cannabis Community passed away the afternoon of December 11, 2012, at Kindwood Hospital at the age of 49.
Ric Smith was born March 17 1963, but activism reborn him in 1996 and a saint he was~ despite the odds being set against him. A determined Pisces, Ric was like no other, truly a hero and the world cannot deny it because even the Seattle Times declared him a miracle, and that he was.
Ric contracted AIDS in 1986 at the age of 23, which went full blown 6-7 years later. It wouldn't slow him down a step... nothing seemed able to when looking back at his life.
As time went on, poor Ric suffered from colon and lung cancer, both of which he fought for more than a decade, proving himself again to be a rare miracle and maker of human history, an inspiration to those suffering similar fates.
Despite most beliefs, Ric did try "traditional medical treatment" for the cancers, but to no avail. In fact, he suffered from "dislodged scar tissue" as a result of the chemotherapy treatments.
Then, as if things weren't trying enough, Ric was diagnosed with Leukemia which he believed was yet another "side effect" from the pharmaceutical medications they were giving him for AIDS, which is also how he felt he contracted the cancers.
After all of this, poor Ric suffered from a stroke, and after that, kidney failure. This resulted in him having to be "stabbed with needles" which he absolutely HATED but he knew that it be done for his dialysis treatments, which would be 4 hours a day 3 times a week for the remainder of his life.
Ric's legend as a cannabis freedom fighting activist began in 1996, when a friend dragged him out of the "AIDS hospice" that he was living in and took him to the Seattle Hempfest. Up to that point, he hadn't eaten anything of substance in months and when tried, couldn't hold or keep anything down either including liquids!
Ric knew that he was dying, and that there was no way he could drag on for long with such serious medical conditions... but lucky for us who came to know him well - he was wrong, and his life's direction was about to take a change in course toward a more legendary direction - helping the severely ill as best as he could.
While at the 1996 Hempfest, Ric met Joanna McKee and through her he got hold of some quality cannabis. He noticed an immediate positive effect in both his physical and his mental capacity, so in the following days, he smoked in the garden of the hospice, which did not allow patients to use “marihuana", but soon he couldn't get enough of the peanut-butter-and-Ensure milkshakes a nurse started making for him. It was working.
He became so healthy that he was kicked out of the hospice, so he moved from there into a Shoreline apartment where he supported himself through Social Security and savings from his previous work experience, when he was healthy enough to work.
His most lucrative job was a short but spectacularly well-timed stint taking credit card orders at Microsoft: His pay included stock options, just before the company went public.
Along with his delivery work, Ric also volunteered at the Cannabis Defense Coalition, an organization that he helped found designed to support medical marijuana patients who had been arrested.
He served on the board of Dunshee House on Capitol Hill where he was proclaimed an invaluable resource as well as a personal example of mind-conquering odds no matter how extremely stacked against ya they could be.
Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn scheduled a Wednesday ceremony with City Attorney Pete Holmes, state Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles and other officials to sign a bill regulating medical marijuana like any other business.
Ric was best known as the activist whom credits medical marijuana for saving his life one day at a time. He was a sponsor of both of the "Sensible Washington" initiatives to remove criminal and civil penalties for cannabis from the law books. Marijuana helped restore his appetite, and by eating more food, his body was able to tolerate doctor-prescribed steroids, which made his body strong enough to then tolerate medications.
"Munchies save lives!" said Ric, who was enthusiastic about seeing marijuana legalized and taxed. "As a taxpayer, let me pay for something I use."
For several years, Ric helped Joanna McKee of The Green Cross as a patient advocate, and he was a staple member of the Hemposium crew with Seattle Hempfest for over a decade.
Ric also went a step beyond while fighting to stay alive, which as was his hearts desire - helping others in need of access and quality cannabis medication. "If I wasn't out doing this, I would be at home getting sicker," he said. So, he kept his heart and his sights on the cause, and despite his own personal pains and sufferings, he always kept a smile on his face and a joke on his lips as he went about his day.
Ric would personally deliver meds via a donated car given to him for the purpose by his grandmother. The patients were often elderly, or too intimidated to risk being seen frequenting a dispensary
Never once would he take money for his good deeds, but he did enjoy the many home made gifts he received from those he was helping. Among his favorite gifts were some hand made hemp dishcloths gifted to him by one of his "Blue Hairs" as he'd say with a chuckle. Oh, how he loved working with the elderly, and watching them medicate with positive benefit and impact!
Ric helped to pass medicinal cannabis "dispensaries" into state law in 2010 with Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn, City Attorney Pete Holmes, state Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles and other officials whom all signed the bill regulating medical marijuana like any other business on July 18th 2010. The bill requires that dispensaries be licensed, obtain food-handling permits if they sell cannabis edibles, and follow all other regulations such as land use codes.
Ric also was awarded the 2012 Washington State Citizen Activist of the Year during the Seattle Hempfest in August of this year.
Ric returned into hospice care earlier this year as his health began to give him more problems, though he never did go into too much detail with family and close friends and fellow activists.
Ric never was a man who sought pity from anyone even until the very end. Instead he was always most concerned and eager to help others in need rather than receiving help for himself.
Ric endured 9 surgeries since returning to hospice in September of this year, including coronary bypass surgery just 24 hours before arriving at the first High Times Cannabis Cup competition. He said he couldn't miss it, since it was finally being held in "his city". I witnessed him zooming about the event as if he hadn't had anything wrong with him, it was especially unbelievable that he'd just had such a major operation hours before - truly an amazing man indeed!
He said later, "If I lay down I get sick, and besides there was more healing energy there amongst my good friends - I'd have been an idiot not to be there."
It came as a shock to those close to him when we learned that Ric had signed a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) and had denounced continuing his dialysis treatments late Saturday night. He slept most of Sunday and Monday, but by Monday night he was reported to be awake and back to his joking self, teasing Douglas Hyatt who told him "you're among the toughest dudes I know" and Ric giggling as he replied, "And you're from Chicago!"
The next morning, however, he couldn't remember having signed a DNR or refusing dialysis treatments just a few days before. He had always been proud to declare that it was “dialysis & cannabis” keeping him alive all these years, so he reversed the (DNR) order and scheduled his dialysis treatment for the next day. Sadly, it was too late to keep him among us, fighting for cannabis liberation. Ric is truly one of the few to have made such a positive Impact throughout this uphill ridiculous battle trying to preserve and respect NATURE as we are!
Ric was a well-known, adamant opponent to the recently approved measure Washington I-502, and others from the past for the very same reason - such a law would condemn him and countless others to suffer and die. Ric wouldn't allow others to take him to and from to his doctors appointments and treatments, and as he told me, hours transferring from bus to bus was no option for him either, so initiatives such as these would spell unnecessary death, and to have such suggestions come from "within our own community" was like a slap in the face to him.
Just because the measure passed did not mean that Ric was giving up on the cause. He told me, "It just means that Viv and I have much more work to do~ and fast, before the innocent and sickly suffer, or worse."
Driving medicine to people in need was an everyday life for him, and I-502's DUID restrictions would mean sure death to he and others without any doubt. Not only does it take your license to drive if convicted under the insane limit restriction of .5 nannograms of cannabinoids in one's system, but also your right to even ride a bicycle. And then, there's the $10 a gram sales tax to boot. What an utter disaster it was to see I-502 passed into his state's law after all he'd done and advocated for.
His actions were always to help rather than to allow harm to those in need of this “all heal” herb that has proven to be such a Godsend!
From his hospital bed, Ric told people about a non profit that he wants us to start, called "Munchies Save Lives". That's a phrase that Meril, a Hempfest family member that has passed away, created and Ric has continued promoting as per his promise to Meril. The Seattle Hempfest Core does plan on starting the non-profit out of respect and tribute to him, and to ensure his legacy and his heart continues to help the people within our community, all of whom meant the WORLD to Ric ~ as he did to us who came to know and love the treasure he is and has been for all of us, whether you knew him or not.
Ric was seeming to improve, and feel better Tuesday according to visitors with him, until about afternoon, then he said he was feeling a bit "tired". Shortly thereafter, Ric actually slipped away from our world for a brief few minutes but thankfully because he had reversed the DNR, they were able to resuscitate him, and he spoke a little bit more but then he passed away at 3:45 p.m., and this time would not return despite every effort made and the millions of tears that began falling at the loss of such a great and loving man.
Ric will be missed by all who knew and loved him, including his family which are many. As we get word from those closest to him, we will bring you updates, especially regarding service scheduling and such. We plan to bring you more interesting recollections on the life of one of our true Cannabis Warrior Angels, Mr. Ric Smith, in the near future.
Ric, until we're with you again may you be at eternal peace as you guide us toward victory on cannabis liberation once and for all ~ you will be forever loved, cherished and missed dear brotha!
Joy Maxine Graves, published author, cannabis reporter and photographer is best known for her involvement as a Cannabis Freedom Fighting Activist. Joy has shown herself to be quite the trooper when it comes to fighting for as well as defending Truth, Justice & Honor, for protecting the "weaker guy", and for standing her ground when faced with nothing but hate and diversity. As the #2 most beloved personal "Jack's Girl" to the Emperor of Hemp himself (Jack Herer, RIP) for more than 13 years, which is how Salem-News.com encountered her by the way, we soon-after couldn't help but to noticed her flare for photography as well as her knack with people, and she has become a valuable part of the Salem-News team.
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