California Cannabis Research Medical Group


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Autumn 2005
Journal of the California Cannabis Research Medical Group

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 war.

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 my job.

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.

Discount Requested
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.
Pebbles Trippet

O'Shaughnessy's is the journal of the CCRMG/SCC. Our primary goals are the same as the stated goals of any reputable scientific publication: to bring out findings that are accurate, duplicable, and useful to the community at large. But in order to do this, we have to pursue parallel goals such as removing the impediments to clinical research created by Prohibition, and educating our colleagues, co-workers and patients as we educate ourselves about the medical uses of cannabis.
The Society of Cannabis Clinicians (SCC) was formed in the Autumn of 2004 by the member physicians of CCRMG to aid in the promulgation of voluntary standards for clinicians engaged in the recommendation and approval of cannabis under California law (HSC §11362.5).

As the collaborative effort continues to move closer to issueing guidelines, this site serves as a public venue for airing and discussing these guidelines.

Visit the SCC Site for more information.