Today we were devastated to hear that Len Richmond sadly passed away back in 2014 and wanted to honour an inspirational man we had the privilege to interview here at ISMOKE back in 2011.
Len Richmond Obituary
Len Richmond (August 6, 1943 – February 10, 2014) went to the great pot farm in the sky far too soon at 70 following a short illness in his beloved Santa Monica, CA. Len was a sublimely talented playwright, author, filmmaker, journalist and Renaissance Man with an inimitable, spectacularly quirky style. His abundant credits included the iconic & award-winning British comedy series “Agony” (1979-’81); the acclaimed indie romantic comedy “A Dirty Little Business” (1998); and the groundbreaking documentaries “Everything Bad is Good” (2009) and “What if Cannabis Cured Cancer” (2010). A proud gay man long before it came into fashion, Len helped to drive America’s evolution from homophobia to wide acceptance and equality as co-editor of the 1973 story anthology “The Gay Liberation Book” and a lifetime of activism. He also worked diligently to promote cannabis as the wonder drug of our time, capable of everything from killing malignancy to beating back the blues. But the whole of Len clearly dwarfed the sum of his parts. To know him was to get swept up into his eccentric, audacious vortex of consumption, hedonism,
, and germ warfare. Len embraced his fascinating life as a compulsive buffet of smells and tastes, escapades and thrills, convictions and neuroses – once earning him the description of being “rather like a narcotic Tigger.” He was hilarious, charming, fearless, brilliant, generous, loving, thoughtful, sweet, soulful, giving, entitled, demanding, intense, obsessive, self-centered and utterly exasperating. But Len never permitted his life to be lived on anything short of his own terms. At the end of the day, that’s more than most of us ever get. He is survived by his adoring life partner of 13 years, Kyle Cunningham of Santa Monica; devoted sister Romi Gordon of Seattle, WA, and brother Ray Richmond of Studio City; bemused brother-in-law Joel Gordon of Seattle and sister-in-law Jill Holden of Studio City; beloved aunt Bernice Fisher of Calabasas; and too many loving friends and honorary family members to count. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made in Len’s name to NORML, the National Organization to Reform Marijuana Laws (www.norml.org).
Published in the Los Angeles Times on Feb. 20, 2014
About the Interview:
We starting speaking to Len a couple of years after What if cancer/” title=”View all articles about Cannabis Cured Cancer here”>cancer/” title=”View all articles about Cannabis Cured Cancer here”>cancer/” title=”View all articles about Cannabis Cured Cancer here”>Cannabis Cured Cancer was released. He was always very warm and always had time for myself and Jason Reed who conducted interviews with several of our guests.
We were also lucky enough to get a sneak preview of Len’s follow-up script “Marijuana and the Mind“, a documentary he was making that he had planned to release, but which sadly will likely never see the light of day.
The documentary covers the effects cannabis has on your mind and one theme, in particular, has stuck with us since we read the unfinished script back in 2012 – Cannabis doesn’t make you lazy. It just makes you realise that you should be doing things that make you happy, and if something isn’t making you happy, you are less likely to want to do it. This cannot be blamed on the cannabis itself, and Len’s idea speaks to me as I have never struggled with motivation to complete tasks when high, because I love what I do.
RIP Len, you will be missed, mate.
The interview below was originally published in issue 7 of ISMOKE Magazine:
We are pleased to welcome the one and only Len Richmond! Len is responsible for ‘Agony’ one of England’s most successful sitcoms, as well as “What if Cannabis Cured Cancer,” a documentary that is extremely important to the cannabis campaign. ISMOKE sat down with Len to talk medicine, weed and general chit chat!
Hello Len, welcome to ISMOKE Magazine. Your film “What if Cannabis Cured Cancer?” is considered a vital resource for the cannabis campaign, what inspired you to create it?
I created it because I love cannabis—it has made me the man I am today. I’m very mellow, healthy, and creative thanks to using marijuana for nearly 50 years. In spite of smoking nearly every day for those fifty years (I’m 67 now), I’m cancer free and in perfect health. This is because, as the doctors in my film point out, marijuana kills cancer cells.
I’ve been a successful television writer in England, America, and France—and every script I wrote, I wrote stoned. So, thank you marijuana for my career.
I lived in London for eighteen years and smoked a lot of crappy cannabis. Whatever I could get really, and usually it was appalling quality. I miss my British friends and the London social life, but I don’t miss the cannabis available there. It was so hard to get a hold of anything decent—never mind organic. Now I go to my local medical marijuana dispensary here in Los Angeles, where I can buy the highest quality, organic marijuana, hash, edibles, and tinctures for every occasion. They even give me a senior discount!
Do you have a favorite strain of cannabis?
“Romulan” for pain. “OG Kush” for sex. “White Rhino” when I have a lot of work to do and need an energy boost. “Sour Diesel” for my boyfriend’s depression (it works better for him than any pharmaceutical drug). I buy hash oil for its cancer preventative concentration of chemicals. It’s also great for my all-day bike rides because it lasts 8-10 hours. I simply stick a toothpick in the hash oil, brown the tip, and let the goo dissolve under my tongue– it starts working in about twenty minutes.
So that’s my life in paradise. I take bike rides along the beach, have a readily available selection of cannabis for every desire and ailment, and I make my own documentaries about what I love best (aside from my boyfriend, of course). Also being in Hollywood allows me to use sympathetic Hollywood talent in my pot films. “What if Cannabis Cured Cancer” is narrated by Emmy-winner Peter Coyote, with a pot puppet short featuring the voices of Roseanne Barr and the great Malcolm McDowell!
Please tell our readers a bit about yourself, and how you got into television and documentary making?
I got into television because I’m a gay entertainment junkie who has always dreamed of being part of show business. I failed as an actor, but when I had the chance to co-write “Agony” with Anna Raeburn, we made it about our lives. I was (and still am) an out-of-the-closet gay, left-wing, pot smoker. That’s why virtually all the main characters in “Agony” (gay and straight) smoke cannabis. And nobody puts them down for it.
Documentaries were something I realized I could produce on my own computer in my own bedroom with my own friends (with a little help from Hollywood). As producer, writer, and director, I could make, “What if Cannabis Cured Cancer”, with my small savings and a personal passion for weed—without having it diluted or censored by anyone.
“What if Cannabis Cured Cancer” is the film I most want to be remembered for. I truly believe that this truth-telling documentary has the potential to open minds, save lives, and change the world.
Do you know many medicinal marijuana patients? How does cannabis help them in their everyday lives?
All I know are medicinal marijuana patients—since all my friends smoke pot and they’re all healed on some level by this extraordinary herb. As my film documents, marijuana is the most important healing plant on the planet. I just wish I could get my unhappy, anxiety-ridden mother-in-law to use cannabis. It would vastly improve her life. She would finally (and maybe for the only time) relax, feel good, and stop obsessing over the trivial bullshit of her life. It might also get her to quiet down enough to watch an entire TV program without talking through most of it. Sometimes I think marijuana is being wasted on the wrong people. The really uptight, repressed souls that are incapable of enjoying life are the ones that really need weed.
In the UK, these people would be considered criminals for using their medicine, even terminal cancer patients. How does that make you feel?
How does it make me feel? Raging anger, but also genuine pity for the policeman or moral crusader whose relative may be dying of something horrible, like brain cancer. It’s tragic that governments refuse to consider cannabis as a serious cancer treatment— even though it’s especially effective for brain tumors. The people who want to outlaw cannabis are hurting themselves, quite literally, as well as the rest of us.
How long have you used Cannabis?
I smoked my first joint when I was 21. A waitress at this rock club where I worked (the Troubadour) wanted to seduce me. She used a joint as her weapon. Even though I am 100% gay, she took me back to her place, got me high, and we started making out. I never knew a kiss could feel so amazing. Her weed made me so randy that I probably would have had sex with her, had the police not showed up at her door.
My first time high and the cops are pounding on her front door. Frightened, she asked me to stay with her while she opened up. All I could think about was that my pupils would be dilated and the cops would see it and I would end up in jail. The cops did, in fact, shine their Rodney-King-beating flashlights directly in our eyes. But fortunately, all they wanted was for her to move her car because it was blocking a neighbour’s driveway.
The second time I got high was at the home of my boss, Doug Weston, who owned the Troubadour where I worked. He had invited some of us waiters back to his cool sixties pad to smoke dope and listen to a new singer he had just discovered called Joni Mitchell. For some reason Simon and Garfunkel were there too. Garfunkel was groping a beautiful Italian man as they sat together in a single armchair. Paul Simon was pissed off with his singing partner and kept glaring at him throughout the night. Because I was stoned, Simon and Garfunkel’s wordless argument seemed so surreal, as if I was dreaming it.
That night, the experience of listening to Joni Mitchell’s first album while stoned, changed my perception of music forever. Joni’s guitar sounded like cathedral bells, crystal clear, enveloping me in their heavenly sound. From that night on, I always lit up a joint before I listened to music.
Do you have any more projects in the pipeline? Any involving the sacred herb?
I have started work on my next documentary called, “Marijuana and the Mind”. Since cannabis has had such a profound effect on my psyche, I wanted to analyze and understand that mental process. I’m going to ask scientists exactly what happens inside our brains while we’re tripping, listening to music, having sex, or being creative—all those things that pot has the potential to improve. Since marijuana tends to intensify everything, it can make you paranoid if you smoke too much, but it can also help you write a novel, create a painting, or imagine a new scientific theory. I will go back in history to see how famous writers, poets, and painters used cannabis to create their art. I also want to know why it helps my boyfriend with his depression.
There is amazing work being done by a few brave doctors who are using cannabis on children who are severely autistic. Its cannabinoid chemicals appear to have turned some of these kid’s lives around. Then there’s the use of cannabis for traumatic stress syndrome. All issues I’ll cover in my next film.
Where can ISMOKE readers go to get a copy of your film, “What if Cannabis Cured Cancer?”
“What if Cannabis Cured Cancer” is available on AmazonUSA. It can also be ordered through my website, “Len Richmond Films.com”. You might want to check out the “What if Cannabis Cured Cancer – Official Site” on Facebook for the latest Film Festivals, free screenings, and YouTube links. The more DVD’s I can sell, the faster I can finance my next film!
It’s been great to have you here Len!
Watch What if Cannabis Cures Cancer
What if Cannabis Cured Cancer Press Release:
“WHAT IF CANNABIS CURED CANCER” wins 2010 Stony Award from High Times Magazine (featured in January 2011 issue).
FROM THE HUFFINGTON POST “I recommend an excellent documentary film, “What if Cannabis Cured Cancer,” by Len Richmond, which summarizes the remarkable research findings of recent years about the cancer-protective effects of novel compounds in marijuana. Most medical doctors are not aware of this information and its implications for cancer prevention and treatment. The film presents compelling evidence that our current policy on cannabis is counterproductive.”– ANDREW WEIL, M.D.
“A Hugely Important Film”– JULIE HOLLAND, M.D. NYU SCHOOL OF MEDICINE
“A Must See Film”– MARIJUANA POLICY PROJECT, WASHINGTON, D.C.
Using original and archival footage, the 60 minute documentary presents highly convincing evidence that this forbidden herb has healing properties beyond any other plant on the planet— interacting as it does with the body’s own “endocannabinoid system” to keep us fit and disease-free. “What if Cannabis Cured Cancer” explains how we are all born with a form of marijuana already in our bodies, and when pot is consumed, the “endocannabinoids” inside us—along with any cannabinoids we ingest—fit together like a key in a lock, thereby promoting the death of cancer cells without harming the body’s healthy cells. A powerful and eye-opening film about the future of cannabis—and perhaps even the future of medicine. Narrated by Emmy-winning actor, PETER COYOTE.
Featuring interviews with DR, ROBERT MELAMEDE, DR. SEAN MCALLISTER, DR. JEFFREY HERGENRATHER, DR. DAVID BEARMAN, DR. MANUEL GUZMAN, DR. RAPHAEL MECHOULAM, and DR. DONALD ABRAMS
“One of the most polished, informative films on cannabis released in years.“ –CULTURE MAGAZINE
- Winner of the “Best Documentary” at the Williamsburg Film Festival.
- Winner of the “Reel Peace Award” at the Berkeley Film Festival.
- DVD’s have been provided to every member of the Los Angeles City Council, the Kansas State Legislature, the Marin County Board of Supervisors, and 100 selected members of Congress in Washington D.C.
YouTube Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pnP8IugJCHM&feature=channel
Available on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/What-if-Cannabis-Cured-Cancer/dp/B003SSBSQQ