“I’m a 32 year cannabis patient with Glaucoma. I can still see you, I can still read and the only glasses I wear are old people readers.” – Jimmy Carberry, inventor of UNDOO and Jimmy’s Joints. We sat down for coffee & cannabis with Arizona’s 32-year cannabis patient and bagel-loving activist, Jimmy “Glaucoma Jim” Carberry. […]
“I’m a 32 year cannabis patient with Glaucoma. I can still see you, I can still read and the only glasses I wear are old people readers.” – Jimmy Carberry, inventor of UNDOO and Jimmy’s Joints.
We sat down for coffee & cannabis with Arizona’s 32-year cannabis patient and bagel-loving activist, Jimmy “Glaucoma Jim” Carberry. Jimmy has successfully treated his glaucoma with cannabis for many years and we couldn’t wait to hear the details.
Phoenix Cannabis Magazine: When did you first consume cannabis?
Jimmy Carberry: I witnessed a lot of people eating it and smoking it before I ever tried it myself. The first time I saw weed, I was about 10 years old. We lived in a building in Brooklyn where you could see the units from the courtyard. I would hang out down there and one time I heard an old man yelling for help from the window. He said, “Hey kid, come here. I fell down and can’t get up.” I boosted myself up to see his cane on the floor and him squirming around. I climbed up and pulled my pudgy body through the window and into the kitchen. He was lying there looking like a skeleton and shaking. He asked me to go to his bedroom and bring this thing wrapped in newspaper to him. He opened it up and it was a giant pot plant! Cured stems, branches and buds. He grabbed his rolling papers and with shaking hands still fluidly twisted up a joint. He said it was his medicine for his rheumatism. I remember he smoked the joint, sat back and stopped shaking. Then, he offered me one. I declined, thinking, why is this guy smoking a bush? I still remember the smell and look of it and it was nothing like the weed we see today.
The next time I saw weed was three or four years later. Someone helped me sneak into a concert at the Fillmore East under a lady’s hoopskirt. It was Jimi Hendrix on New Year’s Eve in 1969 and I was 14. I hung out with older hippies, but they were smart and protected me the way they knew how. We bought weed by the kilo and cut it with hacksaws. Those were crazy times.
PCM: How was your vision as a child?
Jimmy: Better than 20/20. I had 15/20 instead of 20/20 because the pressure was pushing on my lenses.
PCM: When were you diagnosed with glaucoma?
Jimmy: I was thirty two when I was diagnosed and the doctor went the usual route of prescribing me eyedrops. I woke up the first morning and put a drop in each eye. I fell to the ground and went into anaphylactic shock immediately. I couldn’t call for help and I couldn’t talk! It was like one, two, FLOOR! My wife found me hours later. She took me to the ophthalmologist who offered to put me on a lighter dose of drops.
After visiting about five doctors and hearing their crazy treatments I realized I knew more about this than they did. One doctor offered to drill a hole with a laser and let it seep out to drain the pressure in my eye, this would have to be repeated every two years. They can even install a valve that opens like a drain. I remember it would have been $3,600 per eye and they would only do one eye at a time in case you go blind. They lasered my grandmother’s eyes and she lost all sight. No thanks!
PCM: Remember the joke years ago about weed, “oh, it’s for my glaucoma”?
Jimmy: The reason for that is that Robert Randall was the first person to get medical cannabis from the U.S. government in 1976. He had glaucoma and became the first legal smoker in the U.S. since 1937. That’s where the joke came from. Cannabis prevents us from having glaucoma. People don’t realize what a preventative medicine it is for disease.
PCM: How did you realize cannabis was the treatment for you?
Jimmy: I went to supposedly the best ophthalmologist around. I went into his office and it was madness. There were people stumbling around from having their pupils dialated. They did two pressure tests to measure the changes in my eyes. My first test was in the thirties for each eye, which is dangerously high. Normal intraocular pressure is between 12-18 and 20 is considered high. I got my results and waited for the next test. While waiting, I went down to the car where my buddy was waiting with some Mexican schwag weed. I took about five hits off his pipe. When I went back into the office for the second pressure test, it showed that my numbers had gone from 32/31 pressure to 19/19, back into the normal limits. All from some Mexican schwag.
PCM: How often did you smoke before then?
Jimmy: At the time, hardly ever. Maybe a puff at a party or something. Cannabis wasn’t in my life at that point. My friend heard that I need some help.
PCM: How did you react to this treatment revelation?
Jimmy: I started telling everyone about it. I invented my persona, Glaucoma Jim, and started touring around with Jack Herer and the Cannabis Action Network guys.
PCM: How much cannabis do you currently medicate?
Jimmy: My prescription is .5 to 1 gram per hour.
PCM: Are there better modern treatments today for glaucoma?
Jimmy: There’s still no better treatment than cannabis because of its lack of side effects and the lack of shortening my lifespan due to the terrible drugs they would pump into my eyes that were not very effective. And, definitely not as effective as cannabis.
PCM: When did you move to Arizona?
Jimmy: I came to Arizona, in 1978, on a Greyhound bus with $100 and a half ounce of weed. I didn’t know anybody and I lived in a Motel 6 for $24 a night. I put in job applications and started working in a restaurant. I found a roommate and place to stay just by sharing the little weed I had.
PCM: How did you get your first legal prescription for cannabis?
Jimmy: In the eighties, I began visiting Holland and visited a doctor in Rotterdam who gave me a prescription for cannabis. Actually, I got two prescriptions. One for each eye. Then, I started bringing patients to get their prescription there because it was protected by the UN Treaty of Narcotics. They have since changed that. Tod Mikuriya was a psychiatrist in California who was a great pioneer for medicinal cannabis. He knew it was good for PTSD and was talking about it all over the place. What ended up happening is doctors started sending their patients to me because my people were trained to know what to do and how to help people. I came from the patient side to the caregiver side. I knew more than anybody because I had been reading all my life about cannabis. Then I became very active in NORML. I was one of the co-founders of the Arizona chapter.
PCM: How did you get into the dispensary and paraphernalia industries?
Jimmy: I’ll tell you a story. A guy named Larry, from Alaska, called me and invited me to lunch one day. And I said “Okay, are you a cop?” You had to ask that back then and by law they had to tell you. So, I agreed to meet him in a public place. I sat on a park bench, that way if he was a cop it would be right out in the open. He sat down next to me and put the cooler between us. He told me to look inside the cooler. I flipped the lid open and it was full of FRESH cannabis buds. Huge nugs. I asked him where he got it and he said he grew it. He asked, “Can you sell it?” I told him no because it had to be dried and cured first but he said he had already been selling it at the bar. I warned him not to sell it at the bar because that was where cops tended to hang out, coffee shops, donut shops and bars! So, he taught himself how to trim and cure the plants and as it turned out, he grew the best damn weed. It was Alaskan Thunderfuck, the real ATF.
That began my long experience in medicinal cannabis as a consultant and caregiver. In 1996, when the medicinal law passed in Arizona and California, I sent Larry up to an activist friend of mine, Dennis Peron, in California. I told him, that was where he could start his grow. Larry called a couple months later in 1997 and said he needed my help opening a shop in Oakland. It was on Telegraph street and it was called The Third Floor. I carried the showcases and counters up the stairs. I set up the prices, found the products and made the menu boards. I set it all up, it was the first dispensary in California. Many of the greats came to hang out there.
PCM: What are we smoking today?
Jimmy: Girl Scout Cookies with some sift. These are known as Jimmy’s Joints.
PCM: Thank you for your time this morning. It was a pleasure to feature the YOLO 420 lifestyle of a true Phoenix Cannabis OG.
Jimmy: My pleasure. Thanks for coming.
Jimmy Carberry is the inventor of UNDOO™. UNDOO™ is intended to support the body’s natural ability to counteract the euphoric effects of cannabis over-consumption. For more information, visit @undoo420.
*Contains NO Cannabis*