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You might call Dr. David Bearman an expert on drug abuse, considering he
has spoken before Congress on the issue approximately 50 times. He has also
testified in court that a man is not responsible for his actions after a
dozen reds and two quarts of beer.

"Take my word for it," he said.

Dr. Bearman brought his considerable experience to a discussion on the
history of medicinal cannabis Monday at the MultiCultural Center. His
speech stretched from the use of medicinal cannabis in India in 1100 B.C.
to the current state of California's Proposition 215. Bearman, who taught
the first course on drugs at UCSB and is a practicing physician in Santa
Barbara, said that cannabis is an effective medicine for maladies ranging
from Tourette Syndrome to migraine headaches and has few serious side effects.

"The worst side effect is getting arrested," Bearman said.

Although Bearman debunked some cannabis lore, saying "No one ever found
residue on George Washington's wooden teeth," he added one new item: "Queen
Victoria used it for her menstrual cramps."

The latter part of Bearman's speech focused on Prop 215, which allows
California doctors to prescribe cannabis for medicinal purposes. The
proposition contradicts federal law, which lists marijuana alongside heroin
and LSD as a Schedule I controlled substance, defined as having a high
abuse potential and no medicinal benefits.

"I have treated quadriplegics with constant pain and muscle spasms, and
cannabis is the only thing that can get them through the day," Bearman said.

Bearman said he believes Prop 215 will remain the law in California but the
federal government will make every effort to constrict the distribution of
medicinal marijuana.

Responses from the crowd of 30 indicated that Bearman's pro-cannabis speech
was preaching to the choir.

"This basically reaffirmed my beliefs that our general attitude on the
matter is messed up," Xavier Ramirez, a junior political science major, said.

Pubdate: Tue, 04 Mar 2003
Source: Daily Nexus (CA Edu)
Copyright: 2003 Daily Nexus
Contact: opinion@dailynexus.com
Website: http://www.ucsbdailynexus.com/
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