The cannabis community lost another legend as Eddy Lepp, one of the most famous prisoners from the war on cannabis, passed away from cancer early this morning. Lepp was arrested three time for cultivating cannabis from 2004-2007, finally sentenced to a mandatory ten-year sentence in federal prison in 2009. Medical cannabis and then full legalization would never have been possible, without cultivators like Lepp who provided medicinal cannabis to those in need, contrary to unjust cannabis laws that sometimes posed draconian sentences. All of us today that enjoy various forms of legalization can thank those of us that came before us, and Eddy Lepp was one of those pioneers that paid for his activism with his freedom. I had the opportunity to meet Lepp in Portland when we were both scheduled to speak at a Portland Hempstalk following his first first arrest in 2004. My sincere condolences to his family, friends, and everyone mourning the loss.
What was it like in prison?
Well, you know, you kind of put every-thing on hold when you go to prison. For example, I had to deal with quite a few deaths—my wife, Jack Herer and a lot of other people. You can’t deal with that aspect of your life, you have to kind of pretend it didn’t happen and get on with the day-to-day. Now that I’m out, I’ll cry for everybody I’ve lost. But you can’t show that kind of weakness in there.
There have been big changes in that area, too, with Colorado, Oregon, Kentucky and other states beginning to legally grow hemp. That must warm your heart a bit.
I was told time and time again, when I was in prison, by various prison employees, that my problem was that I was 15 or 20 years ahead of my time. So, it wasn’t really a surprise to me, because I did see it coming many, many years ago.
From Steve Bloom in Celebstoner:
“Unfortunately, Lepp was unable to resume his life as a cannabis grower. After his release, he married Heidi Grossman, Together, they founded the Sugarleaf Rastafarian Church of Cannabis Love. The marriage and the church didn’t last long. The couple divorced, the church disbanded and then Lepp married Sandra Castaneda. Lepp developed a form of cancer over the last few years and lived longer than was expected. Tributes are being made at his OG Eddy Lepp Facebook page.
“Lepp was among the last of the activists who paid the price with jail time during cannabis prohibtion. Industry newbies may not know the tales of Eddy Lepp and others who preceded them when the government was quick to lock people up for pot and throw away the key.
As Bloom notes in Celebstoner, 2021 has seen some important advocates leave this mortal plane. While it is sad for everyone feeling the loss of these activists, we can be heartened by the fact that their work and legacy continue today. The cannabis law reform movement is at its peak, so close to finally sweeping Reefer Madness prohibition into the dustbin of history, thanks to the many giants like Eddy Lepp who laid the foundation for us to stand on their backs. Rest in peace and power, cannabis legende Eddy Lepp.