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Lester Grinspoon : The Kotori Interview Part 1 of 3
ROLLING WITH LESTER GRINSPOON : PART ONE
LEGALIZE THE MEDICINEÃ¢â‚¬Â¦DOCTORÃ¢â‚¬â„¢S ORDERSÃ¢â‚¬Â¦
by Bob Freville
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Dr. Grinspoon, you Dirty Harvard Jew! You only did it for the money. This is a letter that came in shortly after the publication of Marijuana: Reconsidered, the seminal book on cannabis and its many properties. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I know the two sentences by heart, the Doctor tells me. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Signed with a first name only.
He chuckles asthmatically. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I was stunned. I was so naÃƒÂ¯ve to think that there wouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t be people like that. But now I rarely get negative emails.
Indeed Dr. Lester Grinspoon, M.D., has come a long way since his first flirtation with Ã¢â‚¬Å“The Devil Plant. After attacks on his career and his moral character, after working with NORML, after traveling to Malaysia to save a disabled computer science lecturer named Kerry Wiley from being hanged for possession of 500 grams, after testifying for John Lennon and even after achieving grandfatherhood, Lester is still kicking. And smoking. Just not for the past few months.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I smoked marijuana for thirty-three years, Lester says. Ã¢â‚¬Å“With this recent push to establish it as an addicting drugÃ¢â‚¬â€something I think has been proven to be an incorrect propositionÃ¢â‚¬â€I decided that I oughtta stop using it, just to assure myself.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“As someone who has been doing it for so long, if it was addictive IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d expect some withdrawal symptoms. Except for some change in my dream life I have not been able to find any.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“It doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t mean IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m giving it up forever, he says, laughing warmly again in between bouts of clearing his throat. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I want to be sure about that.
Although he seems jovial things havenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t always been laughter and smiles for Lester. He recalls one occasion, early in his career, when The Partnership for a Drug Free America attempted to strip him of his license to practice medicine. Ã¢â‚¬Å“A magazine published part of a lecture, he says, Ã¢â‚¬Å“where I discussed my own use, something I had never hidden. I talked about the way it was useful to me.
When they got wind of his comments, they wrote to the Massachusetts Board of Registration. Their plea for him to lose his license listed six reasons why, one of which stated, Ã¢â‚¬Å“It is well-established that anybody who uses marijuana is not competent.
The Board wrote to Grinspoon, informing him that action was beginning to be taken against him. Ã¢â‚¬Å“The first thing they told me I had to do was answer the six questions posed. I wrote back saying, Ã¢â‚¬ËœNo way am I going to answer these questions. TheyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re absurd.Ã¢â‚¬â„¢
In the meantime a Professor at Harvard Law became interested in the case and, in conjunction with his students, formed a committee. The Board got wind that a prominent Harvard Law Professor and his Evidence Class students were writing documents and ready to go to the mat.
This bold move resulted in a letter from the Board saying, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Well, weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve decided not to do anything about thisÃ¢â‚¬Â¦BUT IF YOU DO IT AGAIN!
Grinspoon understands why the fight continues to be fought. Ã¢â‚¬Å“The more people learn about the medical usefulness of cannabis, the more people are going to smoke it, regardless of what the law is.
But Grinspoon also acknowledges the stigma that continues to be cast upon it. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Now the DEA has just come out to say that one of the reasons you shouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t be using any illicit drug is because it helps terrorismÃ¢â‚¬Â¦The facts that the government have been promoting for so long are fiction, theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re mythological.
LesterÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s work in the field of medicine has conquered these myths in more ways than any single marijuana supporter in history. One such story concerns a Harvard colleague whose mother-in-law was stricken with Pancreatic Cancer. She was suffering from nausea something awful and the conventional drugs wouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t take. He asked Lester about Dronabinol, the THC-based pill that was on the market.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“It might work, I said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“But itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not as good as whole-smoked marijuana. He asked his colleague if she would try smoking weed, to which his colleague replied, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Oh, no, no! SheÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d be quite upset.
Lester advised him to use Dronabinol with the stipulation that if it didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t work she should give him a call. After some time the drug hadnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t helped and she called on him to see if she should increase her dosage. Lester asked if she had a grandchild who could, perhaps, teach her how to roll a joint.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I have a granddaughter who is dying to have me smoke marijuana, she replied.
He told her to take a puff on it, just one puff. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Virgin marijuana smokers are more vulnerable to anxiety because they donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know how to titrate. So I told her to take a puff, the joint will go out, light it again, take another puff and wait a couple minutes. Do that until two things happen: You get relief of the nausea or you get anxious. Then stop.
Lester didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t hear from the woman again, but at a meeting at the Associate DeanÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s office, his colleague asked him to stay in the room once the meeting ended. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Lester, he said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t tell you how indebted our whole family is to you. He went on to explain that his mother-in-law did learn how to smoke and it helped enormously. Several months later, while attending their Christmas party, the manÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s wife explained that they had three successful sonsÃ¢â‚¬â€a doctor, a lawyer and so forthÃ¢â‚¬â€and they would sit together and smoke a joint with Granny and have a really nice old time.
GrannyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s final days were made better by the gift of the green.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We have an awful lot of data about how safe it is, Grinspoon says, as if GrannyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s tale was not proof enough.
It always pleases Lester and Kotori to see marijuana getting its just recognition. As a one-time Chairman of NORML, he thinks itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s just a shame that organizations of their ilk do not get the financial support that they need. But you can be sure that his check is in the mail. Why? BecauseÃ¢â‚¬Â¦
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Marijuana is truly a miracle drug.
Dr. Grinspoon is currently espousing any initiatives that move toward the defeat of this insane Prohibition.
Keep a bloodshot eye peeled for more Grinspoon in KotoriÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Winter Edition