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Memories of Dr. Jay


     I met Jay Cavanaugh during the Kubby trial in Placer County. He was traveling with Laura Carden and the canny bus, which was her van. I was asked about that same time to do something about the fly overs in El Dorado County so we held a forum in the Grange Hall in Garden Valley. Doc Jay was asked to come and talk with such folks as Doc Fry and attorney Dale Schafer, Dale Geringer from NORML, Doc Denney, and others.

    Doc Jay came all the way from Los Angeles I was impressed. It wasn't that Doc and I talked a lot but when I needed to be mentored on something it was great to drop a line of questions to Doc Jay and get a knowledgeable response. I have missed that. Doc Jay came and stayed at my house for some of the things we were doing in the AAMC. He and his wife Nancy talked about moving up to the foothills. I sure wish we could have gotten them up here.

    I know that Jay is with Laura in the canny bus watching us. I thank Doc Jay for all he did for the AAMC… he is my friend and will be forever.

Judy Ryland


Prayers and blessings upon all of Dr. Jay's family, friends and supporters.

I never met him, but his work and inspiration has more than once reached out here to Florida to touch me and others in our shared efforts and of course just the world in general.

Big People Make Big Impacts.

Dr Jay is just such a Big Person (spoken with my own belief that the Life Force is eternal).

Blessings on him during his transition from our plane.

Steve Heath in Clearwater


Dr. Jay always brought wisdom, experience and dignity to medical marijuana policy discussions with public officials.  His professional yet selfless manner combined with a special talent for finding common ground to advance the cause of medical cannabis here in Ventura County.

The writings he shared nationwide through the American Alliance for Medical Cannabis ranged from entertaining fanciful parables to news and occasional wise admonitions to reformers.  He additionally shared stories of great love and wisdom with us through regular commentaries of his experiences with his wife Nancy in caring for his mother during her final year of life.

Dr. Jay lived courageously, and generously dedicated himself to helping others despite his own life-long medical problems.  His kind nature, unpretentious intelligence and caring dedication always made him a pleasure to work with.  I am proud to have been Dr. Jay's friend, and I treasure the thought provoking letter in our support that he submitted to the federal judge at our sentencing just over a year ago.  We will miss him greatly.

Dr. Jay Cavanaugh's life made our world better and more Loving.  I trust that he finds Peace in his release.

--Judy Osburn


   All those who knew Dr Jay will miss his kind and gentle spirit, his love for everyone and his dedication to the MedMJ movement.

   In great sadness,

   Ashley Clements


I first met Jay Cavanaugh at the garden Valley forum. It was during a break, and he was smoking a cigarette. I of course suggested that we smoke something a little bit healthier. El Dorado County had a pretty bad reputation for over zealous law enforcement at that time and he declined, with a polite ”some other time, for sure”. I seen him a month later at the grass valley forum and similar dialog took place with me reintroducing myself and again suggesting we step out back, with the Federal cannabis patient Elvy.  Again he had to decline because there was too much law enforcement presence and in fact he felt we should be a little more responsible. I had told him that I intended to volunteer and become a part of the `solution’, and he took me aside and explained to me that we were in a position to make either positive change of create a blight for ourselves. Appearance was important . It wouldn’t be prudent to be flaunting our medical cannabis any more than it would be for him to flash his insulin.(my very first ass chewing by the doc.lol) The next month , Jay again made the trip to Garden Valley and helped us decide to get an advocate group going, and that is where it all started for me.

Jay was just one of the advocates that came , and all had valid strategies, but Jays path of compassion, linked inexplicitly to the education of law enforcement and patients alike, was the path that the people of Garden Valley chose to follow.

Jay was every bit a friend to a simple guy as he was to a professor or doctor. That, I think, was a charm he had and perhaps never knew…he didn’t talk down to you.

He made a task that appeared so daunting seem all too simple, allowing for people without professional skills to become involved. A play on words? Indeed. Jay would simply rephrase the answer to accommodate the educational level in the room or of the questioner. I asked jay if he could explain to me how a certain process worked and he started off with something about binders and inhibitors and I stopped him and said that I was ignorant about all this science stuff and all, and he thought about it for a  second and said some thing like “well Dave, it only mixes with a couple of things”… and then he `explained’ it to me .He not only talked to me in language that I was familiar with , but was completely glad to do it. Later on I listened to him and a couple of biology majors yak it up and sat there listening and nodding politely and laughing at the right time…not having any idea whatsoever as to what they were talking about. It gave me a feeling of great pride to know that I was hanging out with someone so damn smart who was going to help make a positive change for so many people. I got on board of that bus. The Canny Bus

The ideas just popped out of his head like a pezz dispenser. ‘Follow the money trail’ was one of the phrases he used  The next meeting I came with numbers Other people brought information and we started our group from that foundation.

Jay made every single person feel as though just their very presence was contribution enough “.If you fill the room with people, you have a room full of ideas”, someone said, and Jay popped out of his seat and said “exactly!” Our group always was excited when Doctor Jay Cavanaugh was coming to visit.

The other day I said he was a mentors mentor.

What I mean is, most of the people that have taken to the keyboard in defense of medical cannabis , in one way or another have been or are now mentors. We all have people that respect the things we say and do and many of us are struggling to raise our kids amongst all this turmoil. Jay Cavanaugh was just such a person, and even though he had a family of his own to raise, he would take time to `council rowdy upstarts’ ,or write a letter to a Senator or Representative, or travel to the Capitol to see the Attorneys General or attend a rally or some odd thing. He made time to write a personal note to those of us that confided our personal issues to him. Always loving and with compassion, he even managed to scold me in a way that made me grin. Hell I even bragged a little , for being scolded by Doctor Jay.

Jay was a professor. He could teach very well. The hardest part about teaching is getting people to listen. The second hardest part is knowing what in the heck you are talking about. Jay was very accomplished at both venues..

It hurt him to near tears when we talked about the atrocities our very own government is doing to its people. When we spoke of these things, it made us both mad as hell to know, that even though the vast majority of Americans favor medical cannabis, our government spends hundreds of millions of dollars to persecute its citizens, costing our economy an additional billion dollars in lost revenue and  squelch any attempts to bring the truth to congress. He sometimes would appear to be ready to give up, but then would rebound saying something clever like, “ well Dave, maybe they will give us adjoining cells” and I would say, “ yea, well there is no smoking anything  in jail” lol

Jay encouraged me to write with my heart, but he always said, sleep on it and check your facts in the morning. Sometimes I did that and sometimes I didn’t and have mostly been lucky to not have written anything inflammatory or untoward. But I did write a pretty rude letter to our local supervisor and found out I was in error and had to follow up with a “ never mind” letter, so it was best to listen to Jay.(when I told jay of this over the phone, I could almost see him smiling ear to ear, as he told me not to worry about it because those supervisors were used to getting their butts chewed out. He said he was choking because he was smoking, but I know he was laughing)

Jay also always seemed to know where to look for the answer.

It didn’t matter what the question was, he seemed to know the answer or at least point you to where you could find the answer. This was very important to me as I was very green and had no clue where to find anything on the internet.

Doctor Jay will be missed for all the reasons that I have alluded, and so many I haven’t. Sometimes it is difficult to give a person their full due. And as I write this I realize just how little I know about Jay Cavanaugh. I certainly haven’t scratched the surface of his accomplishments, but what he did for me, as a man, cannot be replaced. I will always remember …

All of us that knew Jay knew that the last two years of his life was filled with hurt of the slow losing of ones loved ones and the pain he must have been going through himself as he fought a life long illness. Even through all this, he still tried to give the AAMC some type of leadership.

He will be a missed member of his family. He and Nancy have been together for several years and raised two great kids. They, Erin and J.P., miss their Dad terribly, as does wife Nancy. We of the AAMC lost our Director, and our president when Jay died…. They have lost their mentor, best friend , their daddy and mate, and so much more, that cannot truly be put into words Erin, J.P. and Nancy have lost what cannot be replaced. There is nobody going to take that place in their hearts. As with so many others, with the passing of life ,comes the beginning of life, of today, of the next big thing, and the planning for tomorrow. I end this beginning with a evening reverence of that which is there every day and taken for granted, yet different every time you sit and admire all of her glory of life ,of yesterday and today and tomorrow all coming together , for one moment…. My heart will lift as if on the wings of the great eagle. I am soaring north by northwest from high above Bald Eagle Mountain . The sun is setting and the sky is clear. There are no reds or oranges , just the deepest of blue that allows you to seek forever the change that one could call clarity .From this place sits in perfect harmony , the bear , the wolves and the lion , watching as the sun drops below the rim of the earth, fleeting and disappears…and one last screech from the retiring  eagle  brings about the sounds of night, the crickets and night birds…the darkness brings the stars and the moon  and the precursor of the marrow .On the wings of the eagle I will fly , with my heart, with my mind and finally with my soul.

I don’t know if there is any solace in the knowing that the one you loved was loved by so many. I hope there is. Doctor Jay Cavanaugh…an inspiration…a mentor…a loving friend…and a guy whom I will always remember Though these are my words of great admiration and love, They are inspired by  people like Jay, Laura and of course my Dad. Jay would certainly not want us to ever quit caring , and of course that means we can’t quit , and we must never, ever, ever , give up.

Let Freedom Grow

Dave Bishop



When I was 13 or 14 years old I was sitting in a doctors office reading some grownup's magazine wasting time when I saw an add for some online dating. I made a joke to my newly single mother and suggested she get a date online. Well sure enough she did and I never met any of the men she met but I knew they weren't great because there never was a second date. One day thou she told me she met some Dr. and that she was going to see him again. After they started getting closer she brought him over to meet me and my sister. Clearly we were not going to be impressed and we didn't much care. After meeting Jay we were not impressed. He seemed much to professional for a boyfriend type. It seemed like it wasn't as long as it was before he moved in and then my parents married. Of course a kid just getting into high school and now it seemed like I have this new awkward situation of having a new male live in my house?! Easy to say Jay and I clashed. But when It was my mom and I or Erin and I Jay had my back. Jay was the only guy who could calm me down.

After a while I grew up a little more and found Jay's medical cannabis. That led to Jay sitting me down and telling me about cannabis in a positive setting. That then led to my involvement in using cannabis. Many of the people I became introduced to as Jay's colleagues, I felt like I already knew because of the delicious herbs they gave Jay. As 420 as I wanted to be, Jay always stayed 215, and then taught me the difference. He always said "There’s a time and a place" He always said that using cannabis in a non medical setting is ok as long as you maintain who and what you are and don't let the cannabis be what controls you. The man definitely had a way with words. As Dave Bishop put It, “a mentor's mentor”.

Jay Cavanaugh was probably the best thing that ever happened to my family. He replaced everything that was negative in our lives with good. HE filled all of our voids. A man like that is few and far in between in this world and you consider yourself honored and privileged to have been a personal part of a man like that. Jay was our hero and leader and not only my Dad but my best friend. I love and miss you Dad.

Jp Mohr
Son of Doctor Jay


I met Dr. Jay at the Garden Valley Forum in 2001. I knew when I met that panel that my life was about to change forever. Dr. Jay started the AAMC in the summer of that year and I have been a dedicated activist scince. He will always be my mentor and living proof of inspiration. Dr. Jay's best quality was his unconditional love for people. He was a elequent writer and his unconditional love showed in his letters. He did not write short sweet letters, he wrote great letters. I wish I had copies of some of the letters he wrote me personally, so I could read them today because I miss him so much.

We take a lot for granted as people, and all I can say on that note is that we all need to be nicer to each other. That is what I got from Dr. Jay. He was not into put downs. He accepted all of us for who we are and loved us all individually, yet as one big group.

He was above board on all accounts and I miss him so much. He is and always will be my inspiration, as well a living legend. Without Dr. Jay we would not have the AAMC and or each other. He pulled us all together and we keep his candle burning bright every 4th Saturday of each month when we gather for the AAMC meetings. And if you do not make to the meeting you are still loved.

As activists a part of us is gone in the loss of Dr. Jay Cavanaugh, but he lives on in all of us as we try to follow the legend of a leader that was just as ill as the rest of us if not more. I feel fortunate to have been a part of his life the great group of people it has brought me to know, which is ALL of YOU.

God Bless You Dr. Jay, Know that you are loved and will never be forgotten.

Shelly Sirley Arnold
The Green Goddess


Interview on Australian Broadcasting Corp New South Wales radio (realPlayer audio)

A Canny Christmas Carol J by Jay R. Cavanaugh, PhD

Dr. Jay Cavanaugh       

Born and raised-Los Angeles, California

Undergraduate-UC Berkeley/CSUN-BA Biology, 1976 Graduate- UCLA- Public Health Administration Certificate, 1978-80, CSUN Cell and Molecular Biology 1989-90, Tulane University 1990-94, Ph.D. in Biological Chemistry (Board of Regents Scholar), Stanford University, School of Medicine Postdoctoral Fellow in Molecular Immunology 1994-95

Public Service:
Gubernatorial Appointment to California State Board of Pharmacy 1980-82, reappointed 1982-86, reappointed to final Constitutional term 1986-90. Assisted in developing and coordinating drug enforcement against pharmacies, wholesalers, and manufacturers, diverting narcotics. Developed and implemented Recovering Pharmacist Program. Assisted in insuring pharmacist consultation with patients.

Past Chairperson:
Los Angeles County Research Evaluation and Advisory Panel (REAP) for chemical dependency treatment and prevention.

Los Angeles County Health Department 1970-73 Outpatient drug treatment caseworker.

Interagency Drug Abuse Recovery Programs:
founder and Executive Director 1973-89 and 99-2000. Oversaw four
Los Angeles outpatient treatment centers for adult and adolescents. Served as expert witness in Los Angeles, Ventura, and Orange County Courts.

Crisis Intervention Consultation and Employee Assistance training.

AAMC background:
Became involved with medical marijuana movement in 1997, first as a patient, then as an AAMC member serving as Los Angeles County Director and on the AAMC Medical Advisory Board. Became National Director in April, 2001.

Numerous professional Journals, and upcoming cookbook (The Canny Bus Trip Kit). Cable cooking show planned.

Married (
Nancy) with two teen step children (John Paul and Erin).
Hobbies include poetry (book published), computers, cooking, gardening, film, and the arts.





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