Why I changed my mind about medicinal cannabis | Hugh Hempel | TEDxUniversityofNevada

Translator: Rhonda Jacobs
Reviewer: Peter van de Ven What goes through your mind
when I tell you that my 11-year-old twins
are using marijuana? Do you think to yourselves, “Oh my god, the drug problem in the U.S.
is worse than I thought”? How is it possible that 11-year-olds
get access to pot? Maybe some of you thought, “Geez, I wonder what
medical condition these kids have.” The truth of the matter is, most of us don’t think about medicine
when we hear the word “marijuana.” I admit – I’m embarrassed to admit
that up until two years ago I was completely misinformed
about marijuana, and I think many
of our population is today. I remember vividly in sixth grade
being ushered into the auditorium to see a government-sponsored
“documentary” about marijuana. It was the most scary thing
I’d ever watched. People jumping off buildings,
car crashes – it was mayhem. But not once was there
a mention of the possibility that cannabis was useful as medicine. To be honest, in retrospect, I’m a little angry about the propaganda
that our government is putting forth; it’s even happening today. My big idea worth sharing
is that medical cannabis can be the healthcare success story
of our lifetimes but only if we all engage
in learning the truth and ask our federal government
to end prohibition of cannabis. I’d like to introduce you
to my twins, Addison and Cassidy. Believe it or not, today’s their birthday. Eleven years ago today,
only a mile from here, they were born and came into our lives. Happiest day of my life –
I love the date too: January 23, 2004. 1, 2, 3, 4. Unfortunately, Addie and Cassie
suffer from a very rare genetic disorder called Niemann-Pick Type C . This horrible disease
is more commonly called, or what we call it,
is childhood Alzheimer’s. Their little brains
are drowning in cholesterol. They’re missing a protein
that allows them to process cholesterol both in and out of their brain cells. The cause is neurodegeneration. They can no longer walk,
and they can no longer talk. We were told the Addie and Cassie
would be lucky to see their 12th birthday. (Sniffs) After reeling with
this devastating diagnosis, my wife and I dedicated ourselves to finding treatments
for our twins in their lifetime. We gave up successful
high tech careers in Silicon Valley, and we became research philanthropists
raising money for research, and ultimately, we became
biotechnology entrepreneurs developing a compound. The compound we found was cyclodextrin, and we found it with an amazing group
of scientists, researchers and physicians from all over the world,
including right here in Reno. Every week the girls get an infusion. It’s eight hours long –
it goes into their bloodstream, the cyclodextrin. Every other week, like yesterday,
the girls go to the hospital and they get a lumbar
puncture in their spine in order to get the cyclodextrin
to reach their brains directly. We think that the combination
of those two routes of administration are slowing down
the neurodegenerative progression, and hopefully, maybe even stopping it. Addie and Cassie were
the first little pioneers to try this scary treatment. I can tell you as a parent, with no one in front of you
paving the way, it truly is a scary moment. Thankfully, a couple dozen
kids around the world, including a few at the NIH, are now engaged
in further science and research on this experimental treatment. But the treatment doesn’t seem
to help with their seizures. As a result of the neurodegeneration,
my kids have seizures almost daily. A couple years ago
they were way more than daily, they were many a day. We started giving the kids
traditional pharmaceutical medicines for their seizures. And they worked – some of them worked,
some of them didn’t work, but the big problem was most seizure drugs cause
your kids to become zombies. The whole purpose of the drugs is to essentially take away the stress
or the triggers that cause seizures. We had heard about a father in California
that was treating a young son who has intractable seizures,
seizing constantly, all day long, and he was using cannabis medicine. We became interested. We contacted him;
we learned more about the drug. Ultimately, we decided
to pursue cannabis in earnest. Did you know that the cannabis plant was used as early as 2900 BC
in China as medicine? Did you know that we in America
were using, in the 1800s, for a century, we were using cannabis
to treat a number of afflictions. Unfortunately, in the early 1900s,
as you all probably know, cannabis was prohibited and subsequently demonized
and turned into a war. It’s a shame. It truly is a shame. But we became convinced
that the oil would work. So we set out to find
a supply of oil, certainly – Cannabis has been legal
in the great state of Nevada for almost a decade, surely we could just go out
and buy some oil and give it to our kids. Not true; there was no oil
available in our great state. So we set out to do it ourselves. First we got physician approval
to do the treatment of cannabis, and then we became caregivers, licensed caregivers
in the state of Nevada, which allows us to cultivate
and make extractions, oils from the cannabis plant
to give to our kids. Every day – three times a day –
the girls get a little oil, like what you see here. This oil is extracted
from a very special cannabis plant that’s high in cannabidiol,
or CBD as we call it. Unfortunately, this oil, by itself,
doesn’t even completely, for our children, stop their seizures, so we still use
a small amount of pharmaceutical medicine, but we use less – we’ve reduced
the number of drugs the kids take, and we’ve reduced the amount of dose
from the few drugs we do give them, and consequently our kids
are not only having fewer seizures and shorter seizures, they’re also bright eyed
and happy children again, they’re no longer little zombies. This was great progress,
but I thought to myself, holy cow, there are two million epilepsy or seizure
disorder sufferers in the United States, who’s going to help those folks, those kids, those adults
with these disorders? And at that moment we decided to take what we had learned
for our children and turn it into a commercial business
here in the state of Nevada, which was just preparing
to allow that to happen, and as Kylie mentioned,
we’ve endeavored to do so and are now licensed
to grow, extract and sell, dispense cannabis here in Nevada,
in the state of Nevada. Someday the federal government
will end prohibition. But how many lives
will be lost, potentially, or severely affected in the meantime? How many kids with seizures like mine
will move their families, will uproot their homes to move to
Colorado or Nevada to get these medicines? How many cancer patients
will be denied access to inexpensive and effective medicine to treat the side effects like pain
and nausea that come with chemotherapy? There is a groundswell of folks like me
who understand the potential of cannabis, and I’m grateful for that. The ironic thing is
some of my family and friends, including, most particularly,
my own mother, are still not convinced. My mother is worried that free access to cannabis
is actually a threat to society and that perhaps the medicinal value
doesn’t outweigh that threat. And she sees the medicinal value
in her grandchildren. The problem, I think, is that, really, we just don’t have enough hard evidence
yet to convince the skeptics. There just isn’t enough
science and research to back the foundation
that the medicine’s working, the medicine’s effective, that it’s useful
for large populations of people. That’s not to say
that research doesn’t exist, there’s a mountain of evidence
that the cannabis plant is useful. But there’s not a lot of clinical science,
hard clinical science to that effect. That’s the conundrum;
that’s the chicken and egg problem. Until the federal prohibition
of cannabis ends, until we take cannabis
off the schedule of harmful drugs like LSD and methamphetamines
that have no medicinal value, until we remove cannabis from that list, which is insane that
it’s on that list to begin with, until we remove it from that list,
research can’t take place. If I came to the University of Nevada,
Reno Medical Center tomorrow with a million dollar grant
to study cannabis, I would likely not have success. It’s not that the scientists
don’t want to study the plant, it’s that they are fearful
of losing federal funding. It’s because they’d
have to deal with the DEA and other regulatory agencies
at the federal level, which is a complex and expensive process. This is one of the many tentacles
of the prohibition of cannabis that actually prohibits us
from moving forward. My own personal experience with cannabis
along with the evidence, the science that I know about, makes me absolutely certain
what I shared with you earlier. Cannabis has the potential to become the big healthcare
success story of our lifetimes but only if we allow it. Here are Addie and Cassie
in a more recent picture. For those of you who are still skeptical, perhaps for those of you like my mother who still worry about
the societal downside of cannabis, I ask you to look at this picture
and consider the following: By limiting access to cannabis
for parents like myself, you’re forcing me to make a decision between the lives
or well-being of my children and going to jail. How is that a fair or rational
set of thinking in modern society? Our 16th president,
the famous 16th president, had very strong feelings
about this subject. He said, “Prohibition … goes
beyond the bounds of reason in that it attempts to control
a man’s appetite by legislation and makes a crime out of things
that aren’t crimes … A prohibition law strikes a blow
at the very principles upon which our government was founded.” This was Abraham Lincoln. And he said these words
before we had the experiences we had with alcohol prohibition
or with cannabis prohibition. Someday the federal government
will spend the money on research. Someday the NIH will actually be actively
pursuing cannabis as a treatment. Until that day comes, a large group of us
have come together and formed a nonprofit to organize and fund clinical research
in cannabis in the private sector until we can use
the academic institutions. We call the foundation PeopleCann,
in honor of advocates like myself who over the last several decades
have been saying what I’m now saying and whose words I didn’t listen to
until my own situation demanded it. Never in her wildest imagination –
excuse me – would my wife have thought that today she would
be a cannabis advocate. She was also “misinformed,”
let’s say, about the plant until we needed to learn. Neither my wife nor I would ever believe
that our young children would become the next generation
of cannabis advocates. (Exhales) I’d like you to meet them. Please give a birthday welcome
to my wife Chris – excuse me – and my daughters, Addie and Cassie Hempel. (Applause) Hi. (Applause) Would it be unkind to ask
if we can sing Happy Birthday? (All singing) Happy Birthday to you. Happy Birthday to you. Happy Birthday dear Cassie. Happy Birthday to you. Yay! Good girls! (Applause)


  1. you made me cry,,,Thank you for your dedication, sacrifice and hard work! I hope you keep it up,,,,we're almost there…

  2. If you are looking at trying some CBD or would like some more infomation please contact me as I am happy to help. 🙂

  3. These are the same organizations you speak of in the state of Utah presidents that did not take the claims that they were medicinally beneficial and ignored them and made up their own these are the same funded people from the same funded DEA government offices they did not want freedom of thought or medicine or Choice he wanted people not to question the privately chosen faith-based Authority which I believe is the most addictive Dangerous Drug in our in our culture everything you're saying my friend I've been fighting all of my life at my own peril if you almost got it you're almost there however take out the stigmata's and the labeling have the need to make something bad and I think you'll reach that precipice you so strongly desire

  4. I have been trying to find a good cbd oil that will help with my anxiety, depression and pain. I have tried many, but still no success.

  5. Hugh "Hemp"el. Thought that was funny. On a serious note though, I pray your journey finds relief for your little girls and family!

  6. Who cares about your liver and kidneys and the side effects of the drugs. Cannibas is medicine. It is a plant.

  7. Now Monsanto wants to control it if it becomes illegal. The cops get that drug dog out who is foaming at the mouth before a search of peoples vehicles. They get off on putting people in jail for cannibas.

  8. I am working on changing prohibition which less face it the pharmaceutical companies are blocking us at all turns but the govt is realizing that this train cannot be stopped so they will and are regulating it and taxing it but even that has to change. God bless u and those girls u are doing gods work.

  9. Reefer Madness was a propaganda campaign to push through banning cannabis (big oil joined the act and they banned industrial hemp as well, a cash crop..)

  10. The problem is that the public has been lied to. Hemp is NOT Marijuana.They are two different plants that look similar but are totally different
    chemical makeup. The reason hemp was outlawed is not because people where getting high of it cause you cant get high off it is politics. Somebody ( most likely the tobacco companies) wanted to stop the sell of hemp because it was in competition with what they were selling and trying to grow rich off.

  11. Just like the man said in the video I too was brainwashed in school against marijuana saying that it kills your brain cells….. I no longer believe what the movie that was shown to me in school said about marijuana I will never put anyone down ever again for smoking marijuana I would rather for them to do that than the pop pain pills or shoot stuff on their arms. There are other alternatives that are natural and marijuana plants are natural it is our government a big pharma that has made it illegal because it is so easy to grow and it is medicine for everything that ails us 🙏

  12. please don’t ignore this testimony i am here to give thanks to Dr Rick Simpson for using his oil to cure my uncle cancer of 4 years we have taking him to different hospital the doctors could not cure him and we have spend a lot of money on his cancer until he see a friend who share his testimony about the oil and i quickly email him at ([email protected]) and i tell him about my uncle situation and received the oil and use it on my uncle now my uncle is totally healthy .thanks to Dr Rick Simpson please email him and help your love ones c([email protected])

  13. After grandma's arrested, jailed at Disney for carrying CBD oil, I have no idea if I can legally order it or not. CBD oil is legal in America, but at the same time not. If that makes sense… Which it doesn't. Is mailing CBD oil legal?

  14. I’m an epilepsy patient who uses medical as a replacement for both anticonvulsants, and potentially harmful opioids/opiates to treat pain after having treatments for brain cancer. I am fortunate enough for my state to allow medical use. This product is amazingly effective as a medicine. I wish the best of luck to this man, and his adorable children.

  15. God Dad and Mom!!
    I search about CBD for use after surgery myself.
    And convince my husband, I can use medical marijuana.
    This parent dedicated their career to help 11 years twin daughter.
    You got my tear 😢

  16. Mr Hugh Hempel thank you for such a powerful courageous speech you gave. I carry so much anger, & sadness for the DEA or the government towards legalising the use of medical cannibis. It’s all about politics & money. If they legalise it imagines how much money they would lose. This is unethical & only if doctors & pharmacists truly cared about their work suffering patients or instead just worry about the protocol put in place so many people wouldn’t be suffering so much & curing their sickness with toxic chemicals which will kill them away. I’m so frustrated cause I have been on this path with rheumatiod arithritis, fibromaglia & stenosis of spine now in my 50’s. After so much litigation & waiting cause Australia is so slow & afraid to take risks, I finally have received it. Tell me why is smoking & drinking legal & kills so many because too much money is involved. Truly does anyone care or is it all about the dollar.

  17. You're embarrassed & angry… Yet, you still purport the same ignorance toward other medicines? Class A double-standard 👏
    You should "…engage [yourself] in learning the truth…"

  18. Dudeee! I made it almost until the end without crying and then you bring them onstage?!? Cue the waterworks 🙁

  19. Both methamphetamine and LSD have medical value. For example, Desoxyn (Methamphetamine) is prescribed for ADHD as medicine & narcolepsy. LSD is also medicine so he's misinformed

  20. My goodness they are two BEAUTIFUL little ladies!! WAY TO GO MOM & DAD!! Your daughters are the hope of everyone!!

  21. —-

    Most of these narcotics , intoxicants and other mind altering drugs have been cursed by lord Shiva ,as it is written in the Indian scriptures , ,because there is always exist the possibility of substance misuse ,so the curse can be removed only by chanting the mantra OM NAMHA SHIVAYA ,SHIVAYA NAMAH OM , while taking these drugs ,secondly they should be taken only in small quantities . Lord Shiva is also the lord of Narcotic herbs .Idea is that the altered state of consciousness which has been attained by inhaling smoke or by drinking the potion ,can be stabilised by the chanting the mantra of the lord of the narcotics ,so by and by the person who is into this practice ,may not have to depend upon the mind altering substance ,because mantra will begin to produce DMT , endorphins (morphine ) and Valium like chemicals within the body ,with the help of several hundred thousands repetitions of the mantra . And that will help in attaining the state of deep meditation . In Shaiva text it is written that DMT like substances whether produced internally or taken as drug begin to open the mind in getting the access to subtle /astral realms and where according to his state of consciousness he will begin get visions of meeting beings who exits on in other dimensions ,if his mind is pure which has positive intentions then he will see / meet angels like higher light beings but if s/he is an ordinary person with confused state of mind then according to rate of vibrations of his inner being he will see/meet these beings of lower realms who never bring any wisdom to mind ,seeing aliens ,elves and other discarnate entities is indicative of that situation of inner mind . .Even the wine -liqueur has been by three persons first is lord Shiva ,second is Lord Krishna and third is sage Shukracharya .,so in the same way who is into drinking must first chant particular mantra these godless Tara ( Om Devi Taaraaye Namah ) and offer three drops to sky , air and the earth as an offering to these divine beings .

  22. CANNABIS WILL CURE A LOT OF HEALTH ISSUES…. the authorities cannot allow more healthy people, the pharma will lose money and people will be a drain on society by living longer!

  23. Because you're a Republican. And they never care about anyone until it effects them. How do you get a republican to care? Tell them it's them who are going to suffer.

  24. The pain in the audiences faces at the end is enough to convince me that people will start changing their minds about marijuana… I hope this video did people!!!it has me in tears

  25. I’ve taken care of elderly dementia/Alzheimer’s patients for 3.5yrs & even ran a late stage dementia unit by myself (as a nursing assistant-direct care) for a few months & have done a lot of research on the topic & had many trainings on dementia… but, I’ve never done any research on the childhood form (though I’ll start today)!! My dementia patients stole my heart & fill something in me that nothing else ever has, though deep down I hate dementia cause nobody should have to live in such confusion & terror etc day after day for yrs upon end cause science can’t determine how to prevent or reverse the deterioration of the brain that leads to its symptoms!! This video had me to tears & made me wonder if one day I’ll be called to care for children suffering a similar diagnosis (I’ll be starting the RN program soon, but don’t know what route I want to take once licensed)!! The govt needs to get off their high horse w/ the Cannabis & realize the harm they are doing, granted the govt was created for the people by the people & not to hurt us as they deliberately do every single day!! CBD & other cannabinoids (yes even THC) are great God given natural medicine(s) for many health conditions!! CBD oil (0% THC) has been a life saver for me w/ my OA, RA, & fibromyalgia… I was to the point of working only 4 8hr shifts/wk & struggling to get through them until I started taking CBD oil daily, & I’m now able to work 5 12hr shifts a wk, though the 5th shift is my breaking point when the limping & swelling takes over!! Definitely a God send, literally!! May God bless you & your girls!!

  26. “Propaganda works best when those being manipulated are confident that they’re actions are their own free will.” Joseph Goebbels

  27. It’s a sick and corrupt system. Anyone who despises this medicinal plant has no family members or people close to them that are educated or just doesn’t want to educate themselves about the plant because it’s a threat to their profits. Hate to put it that way but it’s something I just can’t wrap my mind around. Everyone I know that has been using marijuana has benefited from it. No joke. Everyone. It’s a no brainer. Governments are the suppressers/oppresers of their own people for their own well being. It’s simply unbelievable.

  28. Big Pharma generates more money into politicians' pockets than Marijuana ever will. Like you said – politics. Plus Big Pharma is well regulated/no violence potential, because their drugs are hiding safely behind medicine.

  29. Unfortunately, he posted a few days ago on Facebook about them passing from the flu. This father fought so hard for them it is truly heartbreaking. He helped keep them alive for 4 years more than what they were given by doctors. Hugh and Chris… you're research and efforts have not gone unnoticed. You have helped so many people and will continue to help so many more to come. Thank you for your fight. RIP Addi and Cassi 😔

  30. That's the problem most of the negative talk about marajuana are people misinformed about it. I'm sorry but if I talked to my dr and between him and I, decided marajuana was the right medical decision for me, who thinks they have the right to have an opinion. I'm sorry but its 2019 ppl wake up or shut up.

  31. ⛔️ Marijuana will kill you ⛔️
    ❌ Marijuana will kill you ❌
    🚩 Marijuana will kill you 🚩

  32. Been utilizing marijuana for over 40 years. Been told actually carded because the store associate couldn't believe I'm 53 years of age. No medical issues, stop smoking cancer(cigarettes) over 30 years and come from 4 generations of tobacco farmers. With all the bull💩 spewed about producing children with neurological disorders and other issues, my daughter's are top students in the state. Growing hemp on my farm currently for industrial use. European cars makers BMW/Audi have been using as a Kevlar like body protection for over 10 years. Canada's miles ahead on production. Don't believe the anti hype and use in moderation. This video brought the tissues out😢! God bless these BEAUTIFUL girls.✌

  33. What do we do about people, like a relative of mine that abuses it? He actually gets it from out of state and is high all the time while awake! He has discovered the medicinal oil and uses a vape. He has no disease, he carries it with him. He drives his vehicle high. I believe there are definitely those that benefit but he is a bad excuse and how should he and people like him be handled? Unfortunately it’s like the ban on hydrocodone
    because of its abuse. I know people that needed it for severe pain management and it’s now extremely difficult for them to be prescribed. How do we stop the people who abuse it and allow access to those that need it? I’ve researched marijuana and have personally seen the individual that I’m speaking of driving while “high”! His reflexes are compromised and if he should get in a wreck and kill someone….. what about them? If anyone has suggestions on how misuse can be dealt with while allowing those that need it to prosper, I’d love to hear it. Oh and what about the people that are getting it legally for their medical condition and “sharing” it with others that are abusing it?
    Such is the case that I have spoken. What is my responsibility in the matter? Should I ignore it or “turn them in”? I guess you’ve guessed, I don’t use marijuana, but if I needed it for a medical problem I would surely want to have it available! So again I ask, what to do? Opinions for solutions, not judgements or haters would be appreciated.

  34. What courage! Thank you for this talk. Thank you for overcoming the propoganda and giving medical cannabis a try.

  35. the photo he shows us @ 11-minutes is interesting & attractive to me – that i would like to interact w/them experience them/ their personalities. The man is too much emotionally overcome.

  36. He said about LSD and Amphetamine having no medicinal value, yet amphetamines are and have been used since their creation as a medicine. Amphetamine was created in the quest to help asthma sufferers. Amphetamines are prescribed to children with ahdh, narcoleptics and obese people all the time. LSD has a medicinal value of helping ease migraines, but it's precursor ergotamine is also good at easing migraines.

  37. Wonderful talk. Glad you changed your mind and are changing others, too. Something so simple, we Should use!!

  38. Just think of how many people have died or become zombies from legal pharmaceuticals. Just think of how many people have died, been put into prison, and had their lives destroyed by the war on drugs. Think. Put your politicians on notice. Vote.

  39. Wish a happy birthday to beautiful daughters 🎂🙏💫 they will be forever remembered 💛 👶👶💛

  40. LSD can be therapeutic, just like mushrooms, didn't like that he knocked it… and they're basically using meth like substances in ADHD meds. 9:49 The founder of Alcoholics Anonymous believed LSD could be used to treat alcoholism.

  41. Those who are for this man are much more numerous than those against him. God bless his large loving fatherly heart.

  42. Came here for the talk,left with two new family members,my heart,my soul…
    Ima light this blunt in there name,cannabis oil needs to be put out there

  43. The government do NOT act in the best interests of the people it was supposedly formed for..
    Elites are running the show for their own agenda

  44. It takes zero courage to talk about this now. Thirty years ago people were destroyed in this land of the free for talking about benefits of cannabis.

  45. " …harmful drugs like lsd … " thank you for your efforts buddy, but you might consider broadening your research a little more lol.

  46. God bless this family! So happy they found CBD. I am a distributor and people are just not educated on what it is. Thanks for sharing! Very touching.

  47. Tbh even though cannabis is technically illegal in the Netherlands you've been able to buy it without getting punished (and use it, even in front of cops as long as you behave) for like 40 years and… it's had 0 negative impact on our society except for the fact that it still has to be grown and supplied illegally which means the criminal world still profits and that… costs lives every now and then… Other than that it's a crazy idea that free access will be so horrible. All drugs, including alcohol, can be positive or negative. But feeding the underworld with monetary opportunities is probably a lot worse.

  48. you must have thc with cbd. they work in unison . the whole plant and extracts. congrats Hugh. I wish your family the best, of the best of the best. godspeed.

  49. The people who have bocked progress on investigating the medical benefit of this plant are psychopaths, maybe give them a wee symulated taste of what children have to suffer see how long it would take them to find it in their heart to change their minds on this subject. Or just make them take the goverment/medical standard prescription for these conditions you know how they say never judge someone until you have walked a mile in their shoes, only then will they understand sinse they clearly do not have a single ounce of empathy.

  50. I actually thought the speech would be already about not glorifying Cannabis and responsible but also self-controlled use etc etc, but I think we aren't at this point yet

  51. “They” don’t outlaw dangerous or poisonous plants, “they” outlaw plants that make humans expand their minds and heal us.

  52. The "war on drugs" was really the big Pharma propaganda machine paying off politicians to demonize this natural and effective treatment of many ailments. It's shameful and disgraceful.

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