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Tod Hiro Mikuriya ’56

Tod Hiro Mikuriya ’56, May 20, 2007, at his home in Berkeley, California, from complications related to cancer. Tod attended Haverford and Guilford colleges before enrolling at Reed. He received a BA from the college in psychology and did graduate work in the University of Oregon School of Psychiatry before taking a two-year enlistment as a neuropsychiatric medic in the U.S. Army. In 1962, he earned an MD from Temple University in Philadelphia, and did an internship at Southern Pacific Hospital in San Francisco. His psychiatric residency, completed in 1966, was at the Oregon State Hospital in Salem and at Mendocino State Hospital in Talmage, California. During medical school in 1959, Tod came across a reference to medical use of cannabis in a pharmacology book, which spurred his interest in the subject. He began research on the therapeutic benefit of cannabis in the ’60s, and examined the history of the plant, which had been available to physicians in the U.S. before 1938. From 1966 to 1967, he directed the drug-addiction treatment center at the New Jersey Neuropsychiatric Institute in Princeton. For two months following that, he was consulting research psychiatrist at the Center for Narcotics and Drug Abuse Studies, National Institute of Mental Health, in charge of marijuana research. He left the position, and opened a private practice in psychiatry in Berkeley, specializing in in-patient acute treatment and diagnostic treatment with some outpatients, with a subspecialty in biofeedback and substance abuse. His research on the medical use of marijuana took him to Britain, Europe, North Africa, India, Nepal, and Mexico. “The scope of my study continues to expand both into the past and future, propelled by curiosity and enabled by my character traits of oppositional, critical thinking, and perseverance,” he wrote in 1991. Among his many publications on the use of cannabis are Marijuana Medical Papers 1839–1972 (1994), as editor and publisher, and Marijuana Medical Handbook: A Guide to Therapeutic Use (1997), as coauthor. In 1996, his efforts to legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes in California succeeded when voters passed Proposition 215, the Compassionate Use Act. He founded the California Cannabis Research Medical Group and the Society of Cannabis Clinicians in 1999, to educate colleagues about the plant's medical uses. In 2000, Tod was accused of gross negligence in-patient assessment by the Medical Board of California, was fined, and put on probation. An appeal to the ruling allowed his practice to continue under state supervision. Although identified as one of California's 15 “pot docs,” Tod was known for his gentle manner with patients and his spirit of adventure. He also was a tenor, who supported his college education by singing folk music. For his 50th-class reunion, held this summer at Reed, he wrote, “My perception of Reed has not essentially changed over the years. The ideas bandied about and the intense individuals and their intellects are timeless and should be treasured.” Survivors include his son and daughter, and two sisters.

Appeared in Reed magazine: November 2007

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