Cannabis has become a popular alternative treatment for cancer, but with one of its own fighting for his life, the legal pot industry has geared up to fight the disease on a different level. A member of that industry for five years, Jason Margolies was diagnosed with stage-four colon cancer at the beginning of 2018.
Suffering from Crohn's disease since at least 2000, Margolies considered himself lucky to have never required surgery, but that changed last fall when his health began to decline. An operation found a tumor in his chest; initially labeled benign, it was actually malignant. In January, doctors found that cancer had spread to his lungs and abdomen.
Margolies, an executive for cannabis concentrate company Green Dot Labs, isn't short on friends — and lucky for him, they like to roll up their sleeves. Since his diagnosis, the 42-year-old has seen support pour in from his pals and colleagues around the industry. Former Sweet Leaf vice president Nichole West began a crowdfunding campaign for Margolies in February, which has raised a little over $14,000 so far. Many of those donations have come from notable pot companies and their reps. And the help extends far beyond that.
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"I'm tired all the time, so I can't do everything, but I'm not trying to let this take me down," Margolies says. "That's why it has been really tough to agree to these things people have been doing for me, because I've been working for myself my entire life."
Amy Sharp, the wife of one of Margolies's former colleagues, has organized the first annual Jason Margolies Golf Tournament to raise money to help pay for their friend's cancer treatment. The tournament, set for October 5, has already received sponsorship pledges from industry companies such as A Cut Above dispensary, Pura Elements and Sharp Solutions, as well as non-cannabis businesses like Adelitas Cocina y Cantina. According to Margolies, his employers at Green Dot have helped with his medical bills and will be a tournament sponsor, as well.
With an estimated $40,000 to $50,000 in medical bills and a tough battle toward remission, Margolies could use the help. Upbeat and gregarious, the sales executive says his doctors have given his cancer a 25 percent chance of going into remission because he also suffers from an autoimmune disorder that enabled the cancer to become more aggressive.
"My doctor said a similar man who was 42 without an autoimmune problem has a 75 percent chance to reach remission," he explains. "My insurance is pretty good. I don't accrue any more bills until it renews again in February, but I'm a little concerned I'll hit the max usage for the year, which would require paying out of pocket for a supplemental policy."
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Sharp has organized charity golf tournaments for various causes in the past. After the inaugural Margolies event next month, she plans to continue holding an annual golf tournament bearing his name to support someone fighting a similar battle.
"We had a couple ideas between bowling, casino night or a golf tournament, but a golf tournament is just a fun way to get people together and have that community support," Sharp says. "It has been a huge response, almost overwhelming. People love and respect Jason, so it hasn't been hard to find help."
Margolies remains optimistic about his chances and continues to work full-time while undergoing cancer treatment, including chemotherapy sessions that ended three weeks ago. On top of traditional treatments at Lutheran Medical Center in Wheat Ridge, he consumes 1,500 to 2,000 milligrams of THC tincture daily, which is donated by Pura Elements. "THC has been shown to kill cancer cells, and it helps fight the side effects from the chemotherapy," he says. "I actually gained around seven pounds during my chemo cycle."
The first annual Jason Margolies Golf Tournament will be held at Kennedy Golf Course on Friday, October 5. On top of a full-day tournament, there will be putting, driving and chipping contests, as well as a hole-in-one competition that could net the winner $1 million, according to the event flier.