NY Times Book Review: ‘Stoned: A Doctor’s Case For Medical Marijuana’

NEW YORK: Two-legged or four-legged, some guinea pigs have more fun than others.

Among the human variety, Dr. John Clendinning and Dr. David Casarett might be considered particularly fortunate. Back in 1843 Dr. Clendinning, a London physician and bad insomniac, reported on his personal experiences with various sleep-inducing substances. The clear winner was a tincture of marijuana, which brought him a good night’s sleep with none of what he termed opium’s “inconveniences.”

Now Dr. Casarett, a physician at the University of Pennsylvania, has assumed the Clendinning mantle, selflessly immersing himself in the culture, science and, yes, smoke of medical marijuana in order to unravel and report back on the truth behind the buzz.

Despite the book’s title, Dr. Casarett writes more as a doctor than as a stoner in “Stoned” — and let the record show he threw a particularly delectable brownie in an airport trash can rather than risk interstate transport problems. He delivers a readable, absorbing and informative account, laudably minimizing the yucks and emphasizing the science, or as least as much as the data allow. (Read an excerpt.)

A D.C. Doctor Makes Medical Marijuana A Specialty

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA:  Twice a week at the office of Patrick Fasusi, District of Columbia residents line up to ask the pain specialist to approve their use of medical marijuana. For most, the brief wait in the lobby is longer than their consultation.

As marijuana, which became legal for recreational use in the nation’s capital in February, continues to morph from contraband to commonplace, Fasusi’s clinic is a window into the ease with which some residents have been buying officially sanctioned pot for more than two years.

More than 2,700 people have registered for the city’s medical marijuana program, a number that has more than tripled since summer, when the D.C. Council relaxed the rules for participation. And many observers predict that the interest spurred by legalization will lead even more people to jump through the minor hoops required to obtain an official medical marijuana card from the city’s Department of Health.

Illinois Doctor Fined Over Medical Marijuana Slip

ILLINOIS:  Illinois regulators have disciplined a doctor who they say misled potential patients by offering pre-approval for medical marijuana through a Chicago company called Good Intentions — a business that’s carrying on its work with patients and plans to have a float in the city’s Thanksgiving parade.

Dr. Brian Murray will be on probation for at least two years and has been fined $10,000, according to a consent order signed last month and released Wednesday by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, the agency that oversees doctor licensing.

Phone messages left for Murray’s attorney weren’t immediately returned. The doctor agreed to the discipline without admitting to any wrongdoing, according to the consent order. Murray can continue to practice medicine, but must meet with a monitor who will review some of his patients’ charts, including anyone he certifies to use marijuana.

The case underscores the hard line Illinois regulators plan to take on physician involvement in the state’s new medical marijuana program. State law requires a doctor’s written certification before a patient can use marijuana and a “bona fide” doctor-patient relationship, including an exam. Doctors can’t accept payments for the marijuana certification itself, only for the treatment and care they provide.