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March 15, 2009

Annals of (illegal) Medical Research

One of many adverse effects of America’s war on drugs has been an effective ban on medical research on cannabinoids, key constituents of "marijuana”, the nation’s most popular “drug of abuse.” Following its first prohibition in 1937, cannabis was banned a second time, and with increased vigor, by Nixon’s pernicious CSA in 1970 and has subsequently been targeted by a series of additional penalties that can strip unlucky users of jobs, professional reputations, property and custody of their children.

In extreme cases, sloppy execution of search warrants being served at the wrong address has even allowed police to kill unlucky occupants with impunity.

But the greatest cost may turn out to be delay in recognition of pot’s medical benefits, a possibility mentioned by Doctor Woodward of the AMA in 1937 and specifically raised by Richard Nixon’s own blue ribbon committee in 1972. As I’ve been reporting since shortly after Proposition 215 provided me with access to a large population of pot smokers, the major benefit they’ve been experiencing, usually without being able to express it in medical terms, is predictable short term relief of anxiety. In other words, pot is an effective anxiolytic, which, because it is inhaled, is under user control.

Encouraging support for that concept came from an unexpected source only yesterday. Although I’ve long known of Fred Gardner’s extensive knowledge of both Medicine and cannabis, his just-published report on the anxiolytic properties of cannabidiol caught me by surprise, as did information that significant (and long overdue) interest in both quality control and research is being manifested by participants in the emerging gray market close to where I’m now seeing patients in Oakland.

It appears that the glacial pace of progress in our understanding of cannabinoids, first enabled by Proposition 215 over twelve years ago, may just have been stepped up a notch.

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at March 15, 2009 09:25 PM


The illegality of medical and recreational marijuana has made proper medicinal research almost impossible. It seems almost obvious that marijuana has anxiety relieving properties because so many people claim its efficacy and I myself use it for that exact reason. While this is a step up, it disappoints me to see that these types of discoveries are only just being released. Imagine the possibilities if no restrictions existed on studying cannabis?

Posted by: mike at March 24, 2009 08:44 PM