Smoke Signals: interview with Martin Lee, author of new book on the social history of marijuana

At Dangerous Minds today, something you really must read: Michael Backes, head of R&D of medical marijuana concern Abatin, interviews Martin Lee, author of Smoke Signals: A Social History of Marijuana - Medical, Recreational and Scientific.

Lee's book is a fascinating new "chronicle of the chronic," as our pals at Dangerous Minds put it. He is also the co-author of Acid Dreams, a social history of LSD. Lee is also co-founder of Project CBD, which "spearheaded the alternative cannabinoid movement in California to make medicinally important varieties of cannabis containing cannabidiol (CBD) more widely available."


Backes: What do you feel are the most recent interesting developments in the use of cannabis as a medicine?

Lee: During the past two decades, scientific research into marijuana’s molecular pathways have opened up whole new vistas of understanding human physiology and biology. Much of this research validates the experience of medical marijuana patients. The discovery of the “endcannabinoid system,” which includes receptors in the brain and throughout the body that respond pharmacologically to marijuana, has revolutionary implications for medical science. Researchers are mining the rich pharmacopeia of the marijuana plant, which includes hundreds of medicinally active compounds, not just THC, the high causer.

Cannabidiol (CBD), for example, is a non-psychoactive component of marijuana that protects the brain against alcohol poisoning, shrinks malignant tumors, stimulates adult stem cell growth, and prevents the onset of diabetes in lab animals — without causing a “high.” CBD also counters the psychoactive effects of THC. What’s more, CBD has no known toxic side effects. CBD, in combination with other cannabis compounds, harbors enormous therapeutic potential.

Read the rest at Dangerous Minds blog.

Backes is a big proponent of science, and a foe of woo. For clarity, his position is not that people with cancer should drop medicine and just toke away or mainline cannabis oil, á la Rick Simpson.

I respect Backes' take on MMJ and medical science, and we both agree that in addition to legalizing marijuana, America needs to legalize marijuana science now.

Full disclosure: I think Backes is a genius. And, I am a medical marijuana patient at Abatin, and I use their products to help me cope with the side effects of the cancer treatments I'm going through: chemo, radiation, and the like. All of which was blessed by my oncologist, who I also think is a genius.