Journal of the California Cannabis Research Medical
Correspondence & Commentary
Paradiso Prosecution A Sign of Cruelty
Aaron Paradiso, 27, is a remarkably bright person who became quadriplegic
in an automobile accident (not his fault) in late adolescence. He
is a prime example of both the cognitive (emotional) and somatic benefits
of cannabis —and a prime example of the cruelty of the drug
Aaron is due to stand trial in January in San Joaquin County Superior
Court. He is charged with cultivation (52 plants) and possession of
marijuana for sale, plus a firearms violation. His mother, Debra Paradiso,
is also charged.
Bear in mind that U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson
has ordered that a receiver take control of California’s prison healthcare
system to correct conditions of “outright depravity.”
- Tom O’Connell, MD
Dear Dr. Mikuriya,
I really don’t want to take a lot of your time, but briefly need
to give you some background on my condition.
I have been living with chronic pain for 20 years. I suffer from complications
due to Ankylosing spondylitis. I have now come to the conclusion that some meds
are not right for me. I have to be honest with myself and with what medications
really have a positive effect on my life and keep me living with minimal impact
on my family.
Marijuana has been one medication which I have been researching and I am now
experiencing promising positive effects. When using the medication I actually
have an urge to get off my butt and get active again.
The drawbacks of the medication are obvious. I work a full-time job and want
to continue to work full-time. The company I work for has drug testing which
could affect my position, in fact I could very well be dismissed with disgrace
because of my use of this very effective medication.
I have a family and really want to be involved, but sometimes
pain gets so bad, or legal medications prevent me from being reliable.
I feel I’m
caught in a catch 22. Feel good and risk losing my job, or be miserable
and safe in
So this is my question. I live in a suburb of St. Louis.
Medical marijuana doesn’t
appear to be a legal option. Is a prescription for Marinol a possible substitute?
If so, how do I bring it up to my pain doc and get the prescription? Could I
get the prescription and actually use med marijuana without detection from random
tests? I really want to stop using some of these legal drugs that are having
a negative effect on my life and family. But I am really afraid of losing what
I’ve been working so hard for.
Thank you for your time,
Dr. Mikuriya Responds:
Most companies employ a test that does not distinguish Marinol (pure THC) from
marijuana (THC plus hundreds of compounds). The standard test is only for the
presence of THC metabolites in your system. There is a more expensive test that
detects metabolites of THCV, a plant cannabinoid, and therefore establishes use
of the plant.
To be searched for illegal metabolites is demeaning and degrading.
Millions of Americans submit to testing in order to get or keep their
jobs. Many, like you, know they could function efficiently on cannabis.
They face the same Catch-22.
Your suffering is the end-product of racist and bigoted abuse of drug
laws that started back in 1934 when Harry J. Anslinger from the Department
of Treasury’s Alcohol unit launched a successful campaign to
criminalize marijuana. The resulting prohibition, with the inappropriate
involvement of police and prosecutors in health decisions, led, ultimately,
to your treatment with ineffectual and harmful medication.
I frequently get letters from people in other states and I can only
express my condolences. We in California changed history with the passage
of the Compassionate Use Act of 1996. But even here, drug testing by
employers prevents working people who could benefit from using cannabis
from actually doing so.
Tod Mikuriya, M.D.
Dear O’Shaughnessy’s: There are huge numbers of medical
cannabis users who are without legal protection because they can’t
afford a doctor’s appointment for a recommendation. Many patients
are impoverished, unable to afford both rent and medicine (which includes
a doctor’s appointment).
At the request of the late Dr. Richard White, the Medical Marijuana
Patients Union administered a needs grant program for the poor, allowing
low-income patients some relief. Appointments were made for $50 after
screening the prospective patient through a questionnaire and phone
conversation to determine their true need.
MMPU wants to make this a statewide program. Dr. Frank Lucido has offered
to honor 10 needs grants per year. Doctors interested in opening their
practice to help make medical access for the poor a reality can contact
the MMPU, po box 2059, Ft Bragg CA 95437, 707-964-YESS.