After 20 years of study, the California Research Advisory Panel (RAP) in 1989 broke with the state Attorney Generals office (AG), under which it works, and called for the re-legalization of cannabis.
There is no point to continuing unmodified, much less intensified, the policies and laws that have so obviously failed to control the individual and societal damages associated with drug use, summarized Vice Chairman Frederick Meyers, M.D., in a letter released with the groups recommendations after the attorney general had suppressed the report and panel members elected to publish it at their own expense.
This was a complete turnaround from RAPs long history of suppressing medical usage. The long term impact of this shift remains to be seen.
Chairman Edward P. OBrien, Jr., appointed by the AG, who dissented from the panels conclusions, had for years dominated this group, rigidly controlling what research could be performedand limiting those applications to control of nausea and vomiting that is secondary to cancer chemotherapy.
Under OBrien, the panel systematically welshed on its mandate to provide compassionate medicinal access to cannabis. Any applications for using cannabis including the control of pain, spastic neurological disorders, etc., have been rejected. Cannabis used to be the treatment of choice for vascular or migraine headache. (Osler, 1916; OShaugnessey, 1839)
Cannabis has the unique characteristic of affecting the vascular circulation of the covering of the brainthe meniges. The reddened eyes of the marijuana user are a reflection of this action.
Unlike other drugs, however, cannabis has no apparent affect on the vascular system in general, except for a slight speeding up of the heart during the onset of the effects of the drug.
RAP has discouraged the use of smoking cannabis in favor of synthetic Delta-9 THC capsules, despite crude cannabis favorable comparative results reported to the Food and Drug Administration.
This has been frankly misrepresented in their reports to the legislature and testimony in the NORML vs. DEA case. Additionally, these memoranda favorably comparing smoked marijuana to oral THC have been buried in appendices to their reportsavailable in only four locations in the entire state of California!
On September 30, 1989, the medical marijuana program quietly expired, based on the staffs assessment that not enough persons had been treated to justify its extension.
Tod Mikuriya, M.D.
Berkeley, CA, 1990
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