Journal of the California Cannabis Research Medical
Continuing Mutual Education
Pen and ink drawing by John Denney
The Society of Cannabis Clinicians (SCC), was founded in 1999 by Tod
Mikuriya, MD to enable doctors monitoring cannabis use by their patients
to share findings and observations. It was originally called the California
Cannabis Research Medical Group.
O’Shaughnessy’s is produced for the SCC doctors by the
managing editor and distributed to patients, caregivers, and concerned
citizens. The goal is mutual continuing education —to keep ourselves
abreast of scientific developments in the field of cannabis therapeutics,
as well as relevant political, legal and economic developments.
As Rick Steves pointed out in his speech at this year’s NORML
meeting (see page 26), we’re all subjected to a constant dumbing-down
process in America. O’Shaughnessy’s is an attempt to compensate
for our miseducation.
To get involved with the paper as a contributor and/or distributor,
contact journal<AT>ccrmg<DOT>org. Our phone number is 415-305-4758.
Subscriptions are not available, but a contribution of any amount to
the California Cannabis Research Medical Group will get you on the
mailing list for future issues. The CCRMG is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization.
The mailing address is:
p.o. box 9143 Berkeley CA 94709.
We look forward to the day that the ratio of science to politics in
these pages is 10:1. The field of cannabis therapeutics will really
take off once California growers have access to an analytical test
lab and can determine the cannabinoid content of their plants. Then
patients can begin treating their given conditions with strains of
known composition —high in CBD to treat anxiety and insomnia,
high in THC to stimulate appetite, etc. And SCC doctors and committed
dispensary operators will be able to conduct clinical trials that
transform anecdotal evidence into data acceptable to those members
of the medical establishment not totally in thrall of the pharmaceutical
The obstacles to research are political. The forces in our society
that opposed the medical marijuana initiative in 1996 have choked off
its implementation. By all estimates, fewer than 200,000 Californians
have obtained approval to use cannabis medicinally in the nine years
since it became legal—in a state where millions might benefit
if they felt free to try.
More than five million adult Californians voted for Prop 215 in the
privacy of a voting booth. (That’s an antiquated image but let’s
let it stand.) All but a few are scared to ask their own doctor for
a recommendation. What that does that say about the general level of
fear in the “land of the free and the home of the brave?”
The Sheriff’s “Joke”
Alameda County Sheriff Charles Plummer has a doctor’s letter
stating on-the-job stress should qualify him to buy marijuana for medical
needs,” begins a recent story by Karen Holzmeister of the Oakland
Tribune. Tod Mikuriya, MD, read the lead and thought Plummer deserved
credit for a groundbreaking gesture.
Then he read on: “As a joke, Plummer’s physician wrote
the note, which the sheriff showed to members of the district attorney’s
office. They agreed the letter would be Plummer’s ticket to getting
a card that would open doors at any of the six cannabis dispensaries
in unincorporated areas.”
You don’t have to be a psychiatrist to know that things people
say “as a joke” can reveal below-the-surface concerns.
Being sheriff of a mostly urban county in an era of social breakdown
is a stressful job, indeed. Either Plummer’s doctor didn’t
think the request was a total joke, or s/he made an ethical stretch
in signing a letter approving his use of cannabis.
According to the Tribune, “After touring all the clinics [in
Alameda County’s unincorporated areas], Plummer said he can’t
see himself queuing up alongside patients who appear to be ‘unsavory
people’ and ‘young men under 30 who look like people you
would arrest a lot.”
It’s understandable that the subset of Californians who have
sought a doctor’s approval to medicate with cannabis includes
a high percentage of the young, brave, macho, and poor. Middle-aged,
middle-class people are more likely to have jobs, families, interests
to protect. Many become “risk averse,” too embarrassed
to ask their regular physician to approve cannabis use, and afraid
that going to a specialist might result in negative consequences with
an employer, an insurance company, a family court judge, etc. Not to
mention the government.
Nine years after the passage of Prop 215, law enforcement’s ongoing
opposition has led to this:a middle-aged professional can’t find
a dispensary where he’d feel comfortable stopping by after work
to see what strains are recommended for stress.
What the sheriff sees as a diminution of his power to control the citizenry,
the doctor sees as a positive. Mikuriya says, “Whatever other
benefits a doctor may help a patient obtain by approving their cannabis
use, the conferring of legitimacy is a benefit of the utmost importance
for their well-being.”