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Patient Jon Hamm Fought for Cannabis and His Life

“Weed helped with the pain, but dabs helped with the anxiety, with my calm, my chill.”

Photo by Diana Thompson

Question: What do you call a man with a glass eye who has undergone two kidney transplants? 

Answer: Jon Hamm

Jon Hamm a.k.a Ganja Jon spent much of his life fighting. Fighting for his health, fighting for Cannabis, and a couple of times, fighting for his life.

When Jon was 17 years old he received his first kidney transplant. Thanks to a young girl who lost her life in a car accident, Jon was able to (for a short while) live a life of normalcy. Jon did everything required of him to keep both himself and his kidneys healthy, but a mere five years later, he found himself in need of another kidney.

He didn’t want to go through dialysis again, but knew it was necessary. He also knew “how much it was going to suck.” It was at this point that Jon knew he had to do something different … so he went down to his local head shop, bought a pipe, and went about finding some herb. He managed to find some locals who were able to hook him up – which was a far more difficult task in the time before medical Cannabis, when there weren’t dispensaries or clinics for him to rely on. 

“Weed helped with the pain, but dabs helped with the anxiety, with my calm, my chill,” explained Jon.

Jon had an army of NORML (The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws)  lawyers behind him. NORML was making a “big f*cking deal about being denied,” said Jon. Given Cannabis’ status as a Schedule I substance, trying to talk a team of medical professionals into giving a “stoner” a kidney was no easy feat. 

Because of the nature of the situation, Jon was able to have what they call a “high-risk kidney transplant.” This time, he received a kidney from a man who died from a drug-induced aneurysm. Unfortunately, there were complications right away. They had to remove the kidney, then put it back again. He was suffering from a condition known as “sleepy kidney” – a situation in which the kidney doesn’t function properly right away. 

At this point, Jon felt like he went through the surgery for nothing. He was back on dialysis and feeling hopeless. He had thoughts of ending his life, but he decided that if that was the way it was going to be, he was going to get “high as fuck” first. 

Jon took five grams of Full Extract Cannabis Oil (FECO or RSO) and slept for 19 hours. When he woke up, he saw something that he hadn’t seen in over two years: urine. The extract that he had taken the night prior had worked its magic on him: His kidney was working. His surgeon didn’t know what had happened, but he told Jon to “keep doing what you’re doing.” It was then that Jon decided that he was “never going to stop using weed ever again.”

To celebrate his working kidney, Jon partnered with a buddy in Washington and entered the first-ever Cannabis Cup in Seattle – which they WON! Jon referred to this award as his “Weed Oscar,” and felt like he had reached the mountaintop. From there, his open mind and willingness to learn led to “TV deals, documentaries, and many other brushes with greatness.” 

These days, Jon lives in Portland and is in the process of building his own home. He continues to stay involved in the industry, making products and consulting for Cannabis companies. 

Do you prefer dabbing over flower?

Do you have a favorite terpene?
Almost ALWAYS, I am going to lean towards limonene. Orange flavors, citrusy flavors are always going to be my bag. I’m a tropical bitch. I definitely lean towards skunky stuff and ya know, ‘chemmy’ – but almost always … if you say Mandarin or Tangie or something like that, I am going to go, ‘Ooooooh.’ 

How would you describe the color green without using any color words?
Hmm, the essence of trees, the ground, the earth. Everything around us that isn’t water.

If you could choose one song to play every time you walked into a room, what would you choose and why?
Oh goodness, that’s a tough one! I was just listening to a bunch of music today, so I have all of that stuff fresh in my mind. Ya know what, I think it would be Take 5 by Dave Brubeck – which is just a fun, light instrumental song. It’s chill, like I aspire to be. Maybe not like I am, but what I ASPIRE to be.

Tell me about your most unusual talent or party trick.
OH! I guess my most unusual talent is taking out my eye and that’s what a lot of people know me for! For a party trick, my absolute favorite thing to do is, still to this day, to my mom, put my eyeball in the Yahtzee cup right before I roll the dice and kind of throw them at her – and she screams every time!

Do you think that zombies should be fast or slow?
100% fast! I come from the Zack Snyder school of zombies. The 2004 Dawn of the Dead remake is far superior to the original, simply because the zombies are quick. But, in my own personal situation, I would prefer that they be slow if they are chasing after me, cuz I gotta work on my cardio.

If you could be the main character of any video game, who would it be?
Ya know, I feel like a lot of people are going to say Mario because of easy access to mushrooms/psychedelics – but I would have to say Nathan Drake in Uncharted because he is like a male Tomb Raider. Action and adventure has always been my bag.

Photos by @dude.diana

This article was originally published in the December 2022 issue of Oregon Leaf.

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