November 26, 1940 - January 10, 2014
Richard Marvin Davis was born in Phoenix, Arizona. As the son of a Methodist preacher, he moved around to many towns in California and Arizona during his childhood. After graduating high school, Richard joined the Air Force and served for four years before returning to school at CSULA. There, he earned a bachelor’s degree in Zoology and a master’s degree in Biology. He was a doctoral candidate at the School of Public Health at UCLA. In 1972, the School of Public Health refused his request to study the effects of Cannabis, so he decided to drop out and move north to Mendocino County.
In Mendocino County, Richard became a cannabis farmer and an activist for cannabis legalization. He ran for Congress in the First District in Northern California as an admitted Cannabis grower in 1985. He met Jack Herer, author of The Emperor Wears No Clothes, at a demonstration against Operation Green Sweep in 1990, where he learned about the industrial uses of low-THC Cannabis, hemp, and an entire hidden history behind the plant that he had been cultivating for twenty years.
Shortly after learning about hemp, Richard founded the Mendocino Mobile Marijuana Museum and started collecting hemp artifacts, artwork and books. He traveled across California, first in a Honda wagon and later in a truck with a camper shell, to show off these artifacts and teach people about hemp. He tied stalks of the largest cannabis plants of his harvest to the top of his vehicle to show the tremendous biomass that the plant could grow alongside the hundreds of products that could be made from it.
Richard Presenting information on Hemp on RippleTV in 1994
The USA Hemp Museum Truck
(Pictured above, left to right: our founders, Richard Davis and Brenda Kershenbaum, with Jack Herer)
Richard's work raised awareness about the uses of Cannabis--both low-THC hemp and medical marijuana--and built a movement for legalization. This collection grew to include thousands of individual artifacts and became The USA Hemp Museum, the crown jewel of his life’s work. Its displays and exhibits show the many uses of hemp throughout history and the future possibilities of how hemp can be leveraged to restore the environment and revitalize the economy.
Richard and his partner of nineteen years, Brenda Kershenbaum, saw the passage of California’s Proposition 215 in 1996 as the opportunity to finally cultivate hemp legally for scientific research. Together, they founded World Cannabis Foundation in 1997 to educate and conduct scientific research on the uses and benefits of the Cannabis sativa L. plant. They planned a statewide pilot project with Cal Poly Pomona in 2004.
Unfortunately, the goal of cultivation for agricultural research would not be achievable for some time. Richard dove back into activism and academic research and in the process wrote three books about hemp: Hemp For Victory: The Global Warming Solution, Hemp For Victory: The Wonder Herb, and Hemp For Victory: The Trillion Dollar Crop.
Richard passed away on January 10, 2014, a month before section 7606 of the 2014 Agricultural Act, which legalized hemp research nationwide, was signed into law. Today, new laws allow established agricultural research institutions, such as the World Cannabis Foundation, to cultivate hemp and conduct pilot programs in California. Though he did not live to see it, there can be no doubt that this is the fruition of all the work he did to influence people and spread the word about the uses of C. sativa.
Richard Davis was a pioneer! We are proud to carry on his legacy.
"When I was making aka Tommy Chong I met all the Hempsters. I spent tons of time with Jack. I know and love Dana Beal here in NYC, but in truth, no one holds a candle to Richard. Richard was the king of the castle. He took the message to the top of the Ivory Tower and to the stars above and he never had an attitude about it and he never sought the spotlight. He just did his work and he spread the word because he cared about the world and the world surely misses him. It sure does."
- Josh Gilbert
A video tour of the USA Hemp Museum with Richard