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My old friend, Lester Grinspoon, died on June 24, his 92nd birthday, but I have waited over a week to write about it, because I wanted to see if either the New York Times or the Washington Post would print his obituary.
Finally, on July 2nd, the Times finally did it.
The Post still had not followed suit, but it did print an obituary for a famous pastry chef, who popularized creme brûlée, and that did make it easier to get blow torches for dabbing.
I first met Lester at the first NORML conference in 1973, two years after the publication of his book Marihuana Reconsidered.
He had decided that he would not smoke marijuana until after the smoke had cleared — to use an appropriate pun. And at that conference, the smoke definitely had not cleared.
As he got up to speak and looked across the room, he joked that he decided that the audience probably knew more about it than he did (not really). He was still very busy testifying at legislative hearings and he thought it would hurt his credibility if he had smoked the devil’s weed.
We stayed in touch over the years, and almost twenty years later, when I became the NORML National Director he was very supportive. Also, as it happened, in 1993 his book Marihuana, the Forbidden Medicine was published by Yale Press, because Harvard Press would not print it.
I went to Yale, so I had the happy job of writing a review of the book for YP, and I noted that not a single major newspaper had published a review, nor had a major medical journal. I got a very nice letter from YP asking that I delete that part because they were confident that it would soon be reviewed.
I agreed, of course, and joked that 30 years after I graduated I was still getting Cs from Yale. Sadly, I was right. The book was almost completely ignored.
Almost 30 years later, Lester was still being slighted by the Harvard quackocracy. In 2018, The Harvard Crimson printed an editorial criticizing Harvard Medical School for never promoting Grinspoon for a full professorship, because of his support for legalizing marijuana and for drug law reform.
Lester’s courage and intellectual integrity will always stand as a rebuke to the cowardice and dishonesty of the medical establishment, and to those who have corrupted science to promote the arrest of millions.
Richard Cowan is a former NORML National Director and writes Marijuana Weekly News column for LA Weekly.
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