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May, 21 2007 - National Association of Public Health (US Web)

In Memoriam: Dr. Tod Mikuriya

Pioneering Researcher On Marijuana And Cannabis Therapeutics Dies At 73.

By David F. Duncan, DrPH, FAAHB

Return to Drug War News: Don't Miss Archive

Tod Hiro Mikuriya, MD, prominent psychiatrist and advocate for the legal use of marijuana for medical purposes, has died at the age of 73.

After earning his medical degree at Temple University he completed a psychiatric residency at San Francisco's Southern Pacific General Hospital. This was followed by service in the US Army Medical Corps and at state hospitals in California and Oregon.

He was Director of the Drug Addiction Treatment Center of the New Jersey NeuroPschiatric Institute.

In the 1960's he directed marijuana research for the National Institute of Mental Health's Center for Narcotics and Drug Abuse Studies (predecessor of today's National Institute on Drug Abuse) but when the research failed to support the government's view of marijuana as a dangerous drug, he believed the evidence instead of the politicians. That ended his career with the federal government.

In the subsequent years, he practiced psychiatry in California. Following passage of the California Compassionate Use Act (Proposition 215) in 1996, Dr. Mikuriya served as Medical Coordinator of the Oakland Cannabis Buyers' Cooperative, the Hayward Hempery, and the San Francisco Cannabis Buyers' Club -- organizations established to provide access to medical marijuana for patients.

In 2000 he founded the California Cannabis Research Medical Group (, a non-profit organization "dedicated to conducting quality medical marijuana research, to ensuring the safety and confidentiality of all research subjects, and to maintaining the highest quality of standards and risk management".

He described the roots of his activism in the ironic statement that, "I had the good fortune to have a Japanese father and a German mother in a small Pennsylvania town during the Depression and World War II,"

As a consequence of this background, "my sister and I were chased, shot at, beaten up, spat upon, called names. The local kids chased us like a pack of dogs. I realized that people could be brainwashed and trained to hate. The same thing has been done with marijuana and marijuana users. I've learned to fight back."

He fought the good fight against bad laws and their abusive enforcement for many years and at high personal cost. His passing will be mourned by the many he helped and by those who seek to see drug policy based on realities instead of propoaganda.

A collection of some of Dr. Mikuriya's writings on drug policy can be found online at the Schaffer Library of Drug Polcy:

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