Tod Mikuriya: Grandfather of Medical Marijuana

Tod Mikuriya: Grandfather of Medical Marijuana

Dr. Tod Mikuriya was a critical force in the successful and ground-breaking effort to legalize medical marijuana in California in the 1990s. Now his papers are available to researchers through a newly archived collection at the National Library of Medicine. The Berkeley psychiatrist, who died in 2007, was hailed as the grandfather of the medical marijuana movement, backing up the activists with unimpeachable scholarly chops to the rage of the Drug War establishment. It was hard to assail his credibility, as he had actually headed up the National Institute of Health’s cannabis research program in the 1960s before defecting to the side of the people being studied, so to speak.  An ‘Inappropriate Attack of Curiosity’  Mikuriya was born in a rural part of Pennsylvania’s Bucks County in 1933, to mixed German and Japanese immigrant stock. This obviously made him the target of prejudice during his childhood in World War II, an experience to which he would later attribute his rebellious streak.  Mikuriya received his bachelor’s degree in psychology from Reed College in Oregon in 1956, before serving a medic in the Army. He then went to medical school at Philadelphia’s Temple University, where the turning point in his life occurred.  As he would years later relate to video-journalist Ruby Dunes on the sidelines of a cannabis conference in Santa Barbara, in 1959 Mikuriya was “struck by an inappropriate attack of curiosity” after reading an unassigned chapter in a pharmacology textbook that mentioned the widespread medicinal use of cannabis in the United States…

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