As a child of Japanese decent, little Tod Mikuriya and his family were terrorized during World War II by the FBI and threatened to be sent to an internment camp.
As a result of being singled out for being Japanese, Dr. Mikuriya, in his adulthood recalled, “My sister and I were shot at, beaten up, spat upon, called names. The local kids chased us like a pack of dogs.”
He brought that around to cannabis saying, “I realized that people could be brainwashed and trained to hate. The same thing has been done with marijuana and marijuana users. I learned to fight back.”
And HOW. This man, trained as a psychiatrist, was a giant in pushing the boundaries for using cannabis as medicine and an activist to get medical marijuana legalized in California where there were emerging patchwork laws in the 1990’s.
Decades earlier, he had dug deep into forgotten medical literature that showed that cannabis was widely prescribed in the U.S., Britain and France during the 1800’s. But this information had been locked away in the 1930’s when the U.S. made cannabis illegal. Armed with that extensive research, he brought it to the attention of doctors and scientists in the 1960s.
Nonetheless, while serving at the National Institute of Mental Health, Dr. Mikuriya learned of the government’s intent to suppress the benefits of the plant.
He reported “The government wanted bad things found out about marijuana,” and he said, “I didn’t find them.”
With a medical practice in California, this maverick physician was skewered by the U.S. government repeatedly for his activism in making sure the people who needed cannabis, got it – whether it was for end-of-life patients or the alleviation of physical and emotional pain in others.
Dr. Mikuriya never faltered in the face of what was called a “legal lynching”. He was busted by an undercover narcotics officer, sentenced to medical malpractice probation, fined tens of thousands of dollars.
At every turn, they threw up roadblocks to make him stop his activism.
Dr. Mikuriya opposed the idea of restricting the use of cannabis to a short list of permitted conditions. He wanted anybody who needed it to get it. He kept scholarly references on all aspects of cannabis emphasizing its usefulness as a medicine and its lack of toxicity.
In the end, despite their rigorous investigations, the California medical board couldn’t find a single person harmed in any way by Dr. Mikuriya’s practice.
He continued in private psychiatric practice and limited it to cannabis clinical consultations. Before he died in 2007, he’s reported to have approved cannabis for medical purposes in over nine thousand patients.
In the face of vicious persecution that rivaled that of his childhood, Dr. Tod Mikuriya courageously put his medical career and reputation on the line to pursue his mission to make cannabis a mainstay in medical treatments. For this, the good doctor is truly one of our contemporary pioneers in the cannabis legalization movement in this country.
Personally, I love this story particularly because, as a psychiatrist, Dr. Mikuriya connected the dots on cannabis’ role in easing emotional pain – something that so many struggle with. It is this understanding that imbues my work in emotional and trauma recovery – where we can embrace the judicious use of cannabis as a transformational agent in emotional health and wellbeing.