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September 18, 2007

Claudia Jensen MD, RIP (Personal, Political)

 This won't the first time I’ve mentioned Dr. Claudia Jensen, but this morning was the first I learned of her relatively recent diagnosis of breast cancer. Sadly, that news came in an e-mail reporting her death this past Saturday.

 Claudia and I first met at a now-defunct Oakland pot club in April 2002. We had both been recruited to screen patients by Larry K., the club’s very unusual owner who had turned it into the busiest in the Bay Area after less than a year of operation. I now realize that the volume at Larry’s club is what had allowed me to pick up on the patterns in the histories of pot smokers which suggested that many of the younger ones were almost certainly treating ADD. When I discussed it with Claudia, she didn’t disagree, but became very interested; something I would learn soon enough was very unusual for a pot doc. But Claudia was also a university-trained pediatrician who had been specializing in Adolescent Medicine; back then, she'd just taken on her HMO over an ethical issue and been made to suffer. I was yet to become aware of the courage and charisma she would later exhibit in persuading USC to offer a clinical course on the medical use of cannabis.

To this day, I don’t know who inspired the other more as far as ADD and pot are concerned; all I know is that we shared an early enthusiasm. It was therefore very disappointing when she (very quickly) became busy enough in Ventura to give up her week-end trips to Oakland. As I've since reported, she was invited by Mark Souder to testify before his sub committee in April, 2004; almost certainly with the idea of making an issue of her recommendations of pot use by a few adolescents. However, Claudia acquitted herself so well the plan backfired and Fox News downplayed her testimony, while its rival at CNBC gleefully reported it. Those with a desire to read the details of her testimony can download the pdf.

I’ve since learned from another source  that Claudia had been pressured by certain reformers not to testify because they feared she would be embarrassed by Souder over her cannabis recommendations; in particular, I know both the self-appointed medical experts who tried to dissuade her. I've since learned they are typical of reformers who've come to believe they know more about clinical Medicine than physicians who have dealt with patients one-on-one for years.

Hopefully, I'll have time to deal with such misguided beliefs in the near future..in the meantime,  I will miss Claudia and mourn the contributions she wasn't given the time to make.

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at September 18, 2007 01:42 AM