Art by Tom Swanson

Marijuana Past, Present, and Future with Dr Frank Lucido

Marijuana has been a regular, daily part of mainstream news and media in the United States for several years now.  Each year states are changing their laws as voters put forth initiatives in the medical, recreational and commercial sides of the issue.  Outside the United States drug law is being addressed by entire countries – like Peru, Colombia, and Argentina where we see decriminalization for certain aspects like possession or cultivation of personal amounts, or Uruguay where marijuana has been legalized (though further legislation will need to define some terms).

Having owned a grow shop and been embedded in the herb scene myself as a grower on-and-off for half my life, I know that a lot of people consider themselves experts on marijuana…  Some of them, like Dr Frank Lucido, have the credentials to back it up.  In fact, he’s been an expert court witness for nearly 20 years.  We can thank Dr Lucido for pushing the envelope to create change and helping to get us where we are today.  He was kind enough to share his perspectives with


Daniel: Give us some background and some of your credentials.


-Family Practice medicine in Berkeley since 1979.

-Medical-legal consulting as a physician expert witness since 1994.  At first it was in malpractice cases, reviewing records for the plaintiff.  Since 1996, with the passage of Prop 215 (*editors note: 215 is The Compassionate Use Act which established California’s medical marijuana law), mostly in cannabis cases reviewing cases for patients and physicians.

-Anti-nuclear activist

-San Francisco Bay Area Physicians for Social Responsibility (SFPSR), Board member since 1991

Daniel:How did you first get involved in marijuana activism and what was the state of affairs when you started?

 Dr Lucido: I helped get signatures to get Prop 215 on the ballot in 1996.  I got the San Francisco Bay Area Physicians for Social Responsibility  to endorse it as an access to care issue.  My first TV interview was the next morning after the election.

 Once it passed, I began to make recommendations for my own patients, but then for other patients, referred by their friends, or referred by their doctors, who didn’t feel comfortable making recommendations, either because they were unknowledgeable, or because they didn’t know the law, or were afraid of law enforcement.

Screen Shot 2015-01-17 at 2.14.00 PMDaniel: Did you see it going the way it has, state by state, medical coming first, then recreational?  Did it have to go this way and was medical a foot in the door?

Dr Lucido:  It had to go this way since no one could credibly argue that dying cancer and AIDS patients were going to be harmed by something that was helping their appetite, nausea, pain, and depression. Once a critical mass of states voted for medical, it was inevitable that adult use would be passed somewhere.
But medical was never just a red herring, but it was a necessary foot in the door.  And it was the truth.

Daniel:  What kept you going?  It’s been a long road…  Ever any doubt in your mind that we’d make it this far or farther?

Dr Lucido:  Never a doubt, except the timeline, and the order of states to go forward.

Daniel:  Is there a mass amnesia occurring in our country?   This is the same plant it’s always been – except now we have a larger availability of concentrates like oils and ‘shatter’, widely distributed high potency genetics, etc.  Certainly we have more people in positions of power who have experienced marijuana than we did 20 years ago, but what do you attribute the current state of affairs to?

Dr Lucido:  The baby boomers who began using it in the ’60’s are now retiring, no longer subject to drug testing, and the older folks who believed the misinformation our government promoted are dying off.

Daniel:  I suspect there have been a lot of small battles fought in the war against prohibition.  Are there a lot of unsung heroes and a lot of unpublicized projects/efforts that have made the difference, or what is making the difference in your opinion?

Dr Lucido:  Major story here.  What began as mostly activists, has now attracted (or morphed into) “the industry”.  I, for one, underestimated capitalism, which will ultimately force legalization, and probably shape it. By that I mean, it is more certain that adults will soon be able to be BUY cannabis, as customers, than be able to GROW it.

As an activist friend said last year: “I miss the cannabis movement.”

From early on, I saw people asking me to pay them to refer patients to me.  Unethical and illegal.

When I told one of them “You want me to buy back my own business?”  He said “What do you mean, ‘YOUR business’?

Does your doc have an Alex Grey print in their exam room?

Does your doc have an Alex Grey print in their exam room?

Daniel:  Weed is in the news daily and has been for several years, and we’ve got new laws in some places.  I hear more and more stories about what I’d call ‘unlikely’ or atypical users i.e. people who begin using marijuana as medicine despite the fact that they seem to be on the conservative side of the political spectrum.  Is the brainwashing of Reefer Madness and decades of government lies fading?

 Dr Lucido:  Yes, the truth cannot be hidden once a critical mass of people start telling it.

Daniel:  What’s the ultimate goal you’d like for us to achieve?  How do we deal with the fact that we live in a country that’s fractured by this issue – some states moving already with recreational use and others resisting any change in their current policy?

Dr Lucido:  I was one of the proponents of the Repeal Cannabis Prohibition Act of 2012, which we were unable to get on the ballot.

The main points were that it

-REPEALS all criminal prohibitions and punishments on cannabis related conduct for adults, 19 and over.

-MANDATES strict rules against unlawful distribution to or by minors, and against driving while impaired.

-MAINTAINS medical rights for patients.

-VESTS the newly created California Cannabis Commission with the regulation of commercial cannabis above 6 pounds.It was written by defense attorneys and activists, not the “industry”.  Even the growers liked ours, because it wasn’t written by dispensary owners.

I still think this would be the best one, but money will decide which measure makes the ballot.

Daniel:  How much do you think a change in a state’s laws encourages individuals to try marijuana as medicine?  On the recreational and spiritual side of MJ, I come from a cognitive liberty perspective i.e. that I have a fundamental right to determine my consciousness as I see fit.  On the medicinal side, I believe I have a right to determine what natural medicine goes into me.  So, I always said ‘Fuck the government’…  but I had to look over my shoulder as a consumer and a grower.  Seems like changing laws are empowering docs and patients alike.

Dr Lucido:  We’re seeing major changes with cannabis-naive patients willing to try it [because of legal changes].

I’m seeing a lot of kids with seizure disorders and/or autism for cannabis evaluations. For kids, or even adults who are not looking to  get high, we have CBD-rich strains which are less psycho-active than THC-rich strains so they can get adequate doses without intoxication, sedation, or tachycardia.

 Daniel:  To what extent should government be involved in marijuana? We need them to change some laws, but the results aren’t always good imo.  For example, I think they tax too heavily in some cases, taking money out of the local economy. And the permitting process in Colorado for example i.e fire, electrical, building code inspections, etc is crushing to the little guy.  Are we putting ourselves into a position for big money interests to rule the weed?  I think we need policy in areas like testing for pesticides and solvents, but where do we draw the line with the government?

Dr Lucido: Not sure what to do about the “little guy”,  but I think “mom and pop” stores need to be approved if under a certain size.

Again, the Repeal Cannabis Prohibition Act of 2012,exempted regulation of grows under 6 pounds:

-VESTS the newly created California Cannabis Commission with the regulation of commercial cannabis above 6 pounds.  It’s comparable to liquor laws that allow home brew of 100 gallons of beer, not just a 6-pack or a case.

Daniel:  How much (if at all) do you think the promise of tax revenues have to do with changing laws?

Dr Lucido:  Major effect, as seen by how much Colorado is taking in.

Daniel:  Seems like MJ is a freight train: It’s unstoppable, the new economy, etc.  Give us some predictions for the next few years?  How far do you think it’s reasonable to predict?

Dr Lucido:  There will be a pent-up market unfolding of those who have not used because of the law, new patients who have never considered the medicinal properties (as well as their doctors being willing to recommend it).

Daniel:  And, lastly, anything to add?

Dr Lucido:  Yes, once we have true legalization, we will have hype more by advertising and those promoting “life-style” use, and eventually it will go the way of alcohol advertising with a push-pull of advocating use, but also advocating responsible use.   I think that those of us who learned to use recreationally often use more than we need to, to have a good time.  Maybe that just needs to run its course, like alcohol use, only much safer.

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