Harvard’s Lester Grinspoon on marijuana prohibition

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Harvard Professor Emeritus, Dr. Lester Grinspoon testifies that there is no rational basis in science for criminalizing use of marijuana.

“I’ve been smoking marijuana for 44 years now, and … I think it’s a tremendous blessing.

In fact, I first began to look at marijuana as a professor of psychiatry at Harvard medical school in 1967…

I wanted to do something about all these young people who were using this terribly dangerous drug and perhaps if I could write a reasonably objective statement about this and get it published, in a vehicle which they would be interested in, maybe I could do something about it.

Much to my astonishment, here I was trained in science and medicine and had to discover that I had been brainwashed like just about every other American.

I first approached it [marijuana] from the point of view—you know—I was sure it was unsafe. Once I was convinced that it was safe, and satisfied my curiosity about it, it took me a number of years to realize what a remarkable substance it was.

I have also concluded that there’s a third reason [for humans to use marijuana], I mean, there’s recreation, there’s medicine, and there’s what I call ‘enhancement.’

It astonishes me that we can’t get around this prohibition. It’s like something is sacred about it. You can’t question it. You can’t bring any factual data to it…”


Aspirin is “safe,” although it claims between 1,000-2,000 people per year.

With cannabis, it’s been around for thousands of years. There has never been a death – never been a death.

Is there any other substance in the pharmacoepia about which you can make that claim? I’m not sure there is.” ~ Dr. Grinspoon


Lester Grinspoon, M.D., is associate professor emeritus of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, and the author of Marihuana Reconsidered, and Marijuana: The Forbidden Medicine. He is considered to be the most eminent scientist in the field of medical marijuana. As a doctor, Grinspoon was the first American physician to prescribe lithium carbonate for bipolar disorders. He also founded the Harvard Mental Health Letter, and was its editor fifteen years.

Grinspoon originally endeavored to write Marijuana Reconsidered in order to build a case against marijuana, but as his research progressed, he realized the complexities of the plant and was moved to advocate for legalization. He has testified before Congress and as an expert witness in various legal proceedings, including the deportation hearings of John Lennon.

an excerpt from “Marihuana, the forbidden Medicine“:


In spite of the illegality of marihuana and the prejudices against it, large numbers of Americans continue to use cannabis regularly. Once considered a youthful indulgence or expression of youthful rebellion, marihuana smoking is now a common adult practice. Millions have smoked marihuana for years, and many of them will continue to smoke it for the rest of their lives. They are convinced that they are harming no one else and not harming themselves, if at all, as much as cigarette smokers or alcohol drinkers are.

Most users, in fact, believe that marihuana enhances their lives — a subject rarely discussed in print. In more than two decades of research, I have read a great deal about the potential harmfulness of cannabis (much of it nonsense) and very little about its value. Although this value has several aspects, medical use is one of the most important and one that has been seriously neglected. I have come to conclude that if any other drug had revealed similar therapeutic promise combined with a similar record of safety, professionals and the public would have shown far more interest in it. The largely undeserved reputation of cannabis as a harmful recreational drug and the resulting legal restrictions have made medical use and research difficult. As a result, the medical community has become ignorant about cannabis and has been both an agent and a victim in the spread of misinformation and frightening myths.

See also

This wonderful audio interview with Dr. Grinspoon

Puffing is the best medicine” – Dr. Grinspoon


5 thoughts on “Harvard’s Lester Grinspoon on marijuana prohibition

  1. Make Mine Delta-9 (a love song)
    Weather is getting weird, but that’s just fine
    Military called, your sister’s ship hit a mine
    Boss says get to work, go make shit shine
    Just make sure mine’s the sweet Delta-9

    Makes me feel more put together
    Helps me get past nasty weather
    Lets me see in a different way
    Inspires me to enjoy the day

    You take a business trip and have to go across the line
    Your boss hates complainers says all they do is whine
    The cops said your kid will get off with a small fine
    Allow me to recline with that smooth Delta-9

    Makes me think a little more clearly
    Helps me love a little more dearly
    Lets me relax when I need relief
    Brings the Sheriff’s office grief

    Gold jumping several-hundred dollars is never a good sign
    Life’s getting costly when you can’t afford a bottle of wine
    You need to smoke the herb with a subtle taste of pine
    I am primed to toke and dine if consuming Delta-9

    Makes me love the culture surrounding
    Helps us in a system so confounding
    Lets me appreciate the gift divine
    Find me down the line Delta-9

    © 2010 Leigh Richard Wolf


  2. Pingback: Mental ignorant parents? - Page 3 - Grasscity.com Forums

  3. Pingback: Cure Our Country: A Current Update to Save Our Souls | A Global Medical Health Discussion

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