James Hamilton’s parents never knew that when he was 14 years old, he was regularly smoking cannabis. Later he was diagnosed with schizophrenia, and then testicular cancer. Confined to a hospital, he refused chemotherapy and died in July 2015. Now his mother, Janie Hamilton, warns youngsters to stay away from cannabis and learn from her son’s tragic life and death.
Janie Hamilton lost her only son, 36-year-old James, in part to what she believes was cannabis-triggered schizophrenia in 2015. She is now touring schools in England to warn children about marijuana use.
Hamilton says that her son became addicted to cannabis when he was 14 years old. According to his mother, James was a “brilliant writer,” witty, and dreamed of being a journalist.
He was a student at the Surrey boarding school where his father, now 69, used to teach math and the family lived on site. However, James had trouble fitting in and his parents believe that he may have been bullied.
When he was 14 years old, he started spending time with boys outside the school. It is believed that one of them started supplying cannabis to James.
A Dangerous Drug Habit
Janie Hamilton, 65, said, “I am convinced James’ psychosis began when he started smoking cannabis… It was affecting his brain. He was stony-faced and strange. We didn’t know at the time he was doing drugs. We were naive, as we had never tried drugs ourselves.”
Now, James’ parents know that he smoked cannabis on most weekends and sometimes on weekdays. It hurt his grades and he lost his place at Durham University as a result. His mother suspected something was wrong and helped James get into another course at Birmingham University.
Descent Into Hell
James could not cope at university and dropped out after a term. He came back home to live with his parents but became increasingly withdrawn and paranoid. His parents believe this was when he started hearing voices.
One evening, he came home from work and spent the whole night turning in circles, waving his arms, and saying “I’m free, I’m free!” Soon afterwards, James was diagnosed with schizophrenia and spent three months in the hospital.
He was later discharged but stopped taking his medicines because of their side effects. James quickly relapsed and then spent the next 16 years going in and out of hospitals.
End of a Promising Life
In 2014, further tragedy struck when James was diagnosed with testicular cancer. He refused chemotherapy and told the doctors not to tell his family. By the time his parents found out, the cancer was in its late stages and there was nothing they could do.
They made him comfortable and cared for him as only loving parents can. His mother told James that he was the best son she could have ever had, which soothed him.
James died in July 2015, and his death was recorded as a malignant neoplasm of the testis and schizophrenia. Doctors told the Hamiltons that had James been of sound mind, he would have agreed to take the potentially lifesaving chemotherapy.
Janie Hamilton Believes Others Can Be Saved
Janie Hamilton, a former prep school music teacher, wants youngsters to realize that cannabis can be lethal. She said, “It’s like Russian roulette, and young people don’t realize they are risking death by experimenting.”
Hamilton has lost her son, but she believes that others can be saved by her coming forward and sharing James’ story. She said, “It’s like I’m fighting back at what took my son… Some good can come out of his suffering.”