In 2004, Adam Sternberg asked for, and received, a medical marijuana card from the State of Nevada. Sternberg was undergoing cancer treatments at the time, and he wanted to try the hash-oil treatment concocted by medical marijuana activist Rick Simpson.
“I was on chemo, and I figured that the oil couldn’t be any worse than what they were putting in me at the time,” Sternberg says. By 2006, his cancer went into remission, a happy event that Sternberg is quick to attribute to Simpson’s oil: “The doctors say it was the chemo, but I know better.”
Sternberg, 44, is now devoted to assisting others in their quest for similar relief. He runs the medical marijuana consultancy firm Compassion Nevada, which specializes in helping cancer patients obtain their medical marijuana cards. The firm is partnered with real medical professionals who can meet with patients, determine their needs and help them to get their “green cards.” On the educational side, Compassion Nevada teaches cardholders how to stay on the right side of the law and how to maintain personal grow spaces.
As quickly as we learn about the safe use and benefits of medical marijuana, Sternberg wants to get that information to the people who need it. He could have used such help himself a number of years ago, when he sought his own green card. “At the time I was licensed, I asked the State, ‘How do I get my resources and information and knowledge on how to do this properly?’ And they said, ‘Don’t ask us; it’s against the law for us to give you any advice in that direction.’ Basically, they shoved patients into the black market.”
Forced to obtain marijuana illegally, Sternberg was subject to robberies, home invasions and “just getting taken advantage of.” He founded Compassion Nevada in part because he didn’t want anyone else to go through the struggles he did—though starting the consultancy was itself a struggle: “The climate was very prohibitive, and from the beginning I was very adamant about being honest with all the landlords I was speaking to,” Sternberg says. “I told them I wanted to have a cannabis education center to teach people how to grow, how to extract, how to get legal … but there would be no buying or selling of cannabis on the property.”
It took some time, but finally, Compassion Nevada Consulting found a place in an industrial section of Highland Drive. Eventually, the firm relocated to Commercial Center on Sahara Avenue—a move Sternberg was more than happy to make: He found a group that wants to use the Highland Drive location for a legal dispensary. “I felt confident that they’re in this for the community, not just for their pockets,” he says.
Sternberg speaks passionately about the effects of medical cannabis, sometimes tearing up. He talks about child cancer patients who have been successfully treated with it; he talks about the push back from “Big Pharma” (“elderly gentlemen who have been doing this for a lot of years, and have blood on their hands,” he says). But he becomes particularly emotional when asked if medical marijuana really will change lives—and offers an opinion that might speak to why we’re now seeing a wave of marijuana legalization in America.
“I don’t believe in the phrase ‘recreational use,’” Sternberg says. “If a person is using marijuana for whatever reason, there’s some type of medicinal relief that they’re going for. Maybe they’re not comfortable in their own skin, or they have a headache, or they just need to sleep. Whatever the reason, there’s a medical relief to be had.”
For more information on Compassion Nevada Consulting, visit CompassionNevadaConsulting.org.