Damien LaGoy may not be a household name, but his legacy is felt in the evolving world of medical marijuana law. LaGoy, who suffered from severe health issues, was a prominent Colorado medical marijuana advocate and pushed for its legitimacy since his arrest in 2006 up until his death on Saturday at the age of 53. Damien — a slight man with big conviction – was the public symbol for medical marijuana and a steadfast representative for its users. Here’s what you should know:
1. LaGoy Suffered from AIDS and Hepatitis C
LaGoy was diagnosed with HIV in 1986 and Hepatitis C in 1998. His constant medical treatments for both conditions left him with severe nausea, which he used marijuana to quell so that he could eat and keep the medicines down.
2. He Was Once Arrested for Marijuana Possession
LaGoy was arrested in 2006 for simple marijuana possession. Not one to back off from a principled fight, Damien prepared to fight the case, not just on his behalf, but on behalf of the 54 percent of Denver voters who had recently voted to legalize marijuana. Ultimately, the high-profile case was dismissed, but in the process Damien became the public face of medical marijuana in Colorado.
3. In 2007 and Again in 2009, LaGoy Won Major Court Battles
LaGoy’s high-publicized legal battles secured medical-marijuana patients a voice in the regulatory process and that laid the foundation for the earliest medical-marijuana dispensaries.His victories in the two medical-marijuana cases, for a time, allowed caregivers to serve an unlimited number of patients.
4. Won Lifetime Achievement Award
Sensible Colorado, a organization leader of marijuana reform, awarded him a lifetime achievement award. “He was a friend; he was a freedom fighter, and he changed Colorado forever,” Brian Vicente, the executive director of Sensible Colorado, said in a statement. “He will be missed.”
5. He Was Only 100 Pounds
LaGoy’s decrepit, withered, 100-pound body was the public symbol for medical-marijuana patients. LaGoy argued that without his prescription, he was unable to keep food or medicine down due to his constant nausea.