If you enjoy consuming cannabis with even a hint of freedom or lack of concern about life-wrecking laws, you can thank intrepid cannabis trailblazers like Eddy Lepp for that.
The thing is, there really is no one quite like OG Eddy Lepp. Activist, grower, healer, cannabis POW, Vietnam veteran, cancer fighter, artist, author, poet, and even an ordained minister, Lepp has indeed blazed a trail that we are all fortunate to follow but now he needs our help.
You, us, everyone… it is time to step up and provide whatever comfort and peace of mind that we can as a community to show this man that all of his work and pain meant something, and that the seeds he planted might now harvest some compassion back his way from an appreciative cannabis culture.
Now quite literally in the fight of his life, Eddy Lepp is battling an aggressive form of cancer that has ravaged his body over the past year but has yet to take the edge off of one of the sharpest minds that our culture has ever called our own.
Still, Lepp never enjoyed mattresses full of money like many of those who came after him, and funds are tight these days as he must make semi-regular trips from Lake County, California to Ukiah, where he receives his cancer treatments.
The cancer, having spread to his lungs and to his brain, has created a cranial swelling that has impacted his bodily function, rendering one arm all but paralyzed, and he has lost nearly 15% of his average body weight in the past 12 months. All of this amounts to extreme discomfort, especially on those long rides to a less-than-desirable destination.
Keep reading for links and information about what you can do to help fight for a man who spent decades fighting for you, whether you realized it or not. But first, a bit of history about the “Real OG” Eddy Lepp.
A HIGHER CALLING
If you were smoking weed in the 1990s, you were taking significantly higher risk than you are by doing so today, at least in most parts of the country. For cannabis consumers in California, that risk dropped to next to nothing with the passage of Prop 215 in 1996, the legislation that created the highly successful, two-decade-long, mostly self-policed & regulated, medical cannabis market that would change the course of cannabis worldwide.
Some of the most influential voices that pushed Prop 215 into reality included Dennis Peron, Jack Herer, and Eddy Lepp.
Not long after that successful Election Day, in 1997, Lepp was the first American arrested, tried, and acquitted under the law that he helped to get passed.
An ordained Rastafarian minister, Lepp founded the Multi Denominational Ministry of Cannabis and Rastafari on his now-infamous farm in Lake County, California, called Eddy’s Medicinal Gardens where disciples of his faith and of the plant could come to worship and cultivate.
Lepp and his wife, Linda Senti, regularly hosted dozens of people on their property, everyone with a role to play in the success of the farm. Then, in at 7:30 am on August 18th in 2004 (around the time that Prop 215 was fortified and clarified with Senate Bill 420), Lepp’s farm was raided by federal and local law enforcement, among them members of the local Lake County Sheriff’s Department, Mendocino Marijuana Eradication Program and DEA who claimed to have removed nearly 25,000 cannabis plants from Eddy’s Medicinal Gardens. This was said to be the largest cannabis bust ever for the DEA.
Always the OG, Eddy says they undercounted and they actually took over 32,000 plants!
Lepp was arrested a second time that same year and was accused of conspiracy to manufacture a controlled substance, among other charges, that carried a potential of four life sentences plus forty years in federal prison.
It was around this same time that Lepp’s loving wife, Linda, was diagnosed with cancer. Her loss struck Eddy hard, along with their regional cannabis community, but if there was a bright side to the time of her passing, it is that she did not have to see her husband get railroaded by the criminal “justice” system.
Leaning hard on the Religious Freedom lever, and hoping for some support from California state law, Lepp’s defense was shot down in court as the vast majority of his own team’s evidence was not allowed to be seen by the jury – a jury that took just four hours to take Lepp’s freedom with guilty verdicts on two charges.
To be fair, the judge seemed to recognize the triviality of Lepp’s alleged crimes, and on the 18th of May in 2019, instead of multiple life sentences, he was hit with a 10-year federal prison sentence. He surrendered himself to prison on July 6th of that same year and served the next 8.5 years in federal penitentiaries in Lompoc, CA, La Luna, TX, and then Florence, CO.
Some might call it ironic that he was literally sitting in that prison in Colorado while that state began raking in millions of dollars in tax revenue from cannabis growers doing exactly what he was locked up for. We call it an injustice.
In December of 2016, just about one month after California voters passed Prop 64 to establish the state’s taxed and regulated recreational cannabis market, Eddy Lepp was finally released from prison on probation.
Vowing to get back into the cannabis culture just as soon as the law would allow him to, Eddy cultivated a popular YouTube channel and stayed relatively active on social media.
It is unclear when exactly he was diagnosed with cancer, but his last produced YouTube video was posted around nine months ago, and lately he has been giving video updates via his Facebook page. You don’t have to be a doctor to see the toll that the disease has taken on this warrior… and still, he fights.
In a recent Facebook video, Eddy spoke about the discomfort he is experiencing when traveling to Ukiah for his radiation treatments. His current vehicle just is not conducive for his wellness in that great time of need.
Here is one way that you can make a big difference, no matter what size your donation may be.
Eddy’s closest friends and his significant other, Sandy, have set up a GoFundMe page with a humble goal of $20,000, primarily to upgrade his mode of transportation. Last we checked, it was a tick over $1,400. Our community can do better than that!
Another way to lend financial support to the Real OG is to browse this online shop for merch whose proceeds will directly benefit Eddy’s recovery and wellness.
If money is tight, we get it. Eddy has graciously provided his mailing address and is riding high on postcards, letters, and other well wishes that he has received so far in his mailbox. If you’d like to send him an encouraging word you can write to the legend himself at:
PO Box 1631
Clearlake Oaks CA 95423
In one of those recent Facebook videos, Eddy was so thankful for the support he has received so far but although it should go without saying, we want to say it anyway… THANK YOU Eddy Lepp.
Thank you for your advocacy, for your courage, for your leadership, for your inspiration.
If you are smoking, or dabbing, or vaping, or munching on some high-grade cannabis today, you should thank Eddy Lepp too.