Thursday, June 13, 2013

How a Doctor Came to Believe in Medical Marijuana

A California M.D. says it’s time to repeal marijuana-prohibition laws. ‘At long last and practically against my will, I am doing the right thing.

I hadn’t written a pot prescription in over a year, so I was furious when I was subpoenaed again in 2010, I think. This time, a patient had been caught growing marijuana and had somehow managed to get in trouble with the law. As his physician, I was being called to support the patient’s claim that he needed weed.

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Jars containing various strands of medical marijuana sit behind a display case at the River Rock Medical Marijuana Center in Denver, Colorado. (Anthony Souffle/Chicago Tribune, via Getty).

When I showed up in court, the young man was contrite. He was a polite and well-groomed man, a semipro athlete who used marijuana instead of anti-inflammatories for his muscle pain. Ibuprofen bothered his stomach. Even though he had done everything right, he was arrested for growing six plants.

I’m an unlikely advocate for marijuana legalization—a graduate from a top medical school with a Stanford M.B.A. I never personally liked marijuana and for much of my career judged it harshly. But my internal-medicine practice had become totally unworkable as a mother with two young kids with severe learning disabilities. Writing pot prescriptions was a job that fit neatly into my life.

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