My heart is heavy today after learning about the death of Vincent Lopez in Texas.
Vincent was one of the bravest people I ever met in this fight of ours to end cannabis prohibition. I probably met Vincent on my first trip to Texas in 2011, and the last time I saw him was in 2014 at the Texas Regional NORML Conference (pictured here with Texas legend Kinky Friedman).
Vincent was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy at age 11. His body weakened, but his spirit grew mightily once he learned of the therapeutic power of cannabis and how it eased his suffering. His fifty-pound body housed a metric ton of determination.
Vincent became the patient liaison for Texas NORML and founded the Patient Alliance for Cannabis Therapeutics (PACT). He became known for his rousing speeches at the Texas Global Marijuana March and for organizing testimony in Austin in support of amending Texas law to help provide for patients like little nine-year-old Alexis Bortell—one of far-too-many children who’ve had to emigrate from their home state to Colorado just to receive life-saving cannabidiol treatments for epilepsy.
Vincent was always deflecting concern about his frail condition.
I asked him once why he was risking his health by remaining in Texas when he could probably make his way to Colorado and not face a life-ending arrest and sentence for the medical marijuana he’d been using since 2009?
“I love my state,” he replied calmly, “and I have to stay here and fight to make sure the children who desperately need it can someday use cannabis as medicine. I know my wheelchair is a strong symbol for the disabled. It’s harder for a legislator to ignore me in my chair than someone like you.”
Indeed, the last post of his that I can find on his Facebook page shows Vincent at his typical best. Despite being in the hospital for the last time of his life, he was sharing positive vibes about his latest bout with his disease and promoting the latest video from Alexis Bortell. Even as he described his hospital ordeal last Friday, he gave it a positive spin with heart and smiley face emojis.
My few brief meetings cannot possibly bless me with the insight to write enough to do justice to the legacy of the man who was Vincent Lopez.
So here are two videos, one from last February on the Texas Cannabis Report and another from June 2014, when I had the honor of moderating a conversation with Vincent and others on a patients’ panel at the Texas Regional NORML Conference. You can witness his tenacity and resolve for yourself.
Some people are gifted with so much in life and in return produce so little of value to others. Vincent Lopez was the exact opposite of that.
Rest in peace, cannabis brother, and we’ll keep fighting to pass the Vincent Lopez Medical Cannabis Act, as the next attempt to legalize medical marijuana in Texas better be titled.
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