Stoned
David Casarett, M.D.
Current, July 2015

No substance on earth is as hotly debated as marijuana. Opponents claim it’s dangerous, addictive, carcinogenic, and a gateway to serious drug abuse. Fans claim it as a wonder drug, treating cancer, anorexia, AIDS, chronic pain, glaucoma, arthritis, migraines, PTSD, and insomnia. Patients suffering from these conditions need—and deserve—hard facts based on medical evidence, not hysteria and superstition.

In Stoned, palliative care physician Dr. David Casarett sets out to do anything—including experimenting on himself—to find evidence of marijuana’s medical potential. He smears mysterious marijuana paste on his legs and samples pot wine. He poses as a patient at a seedy California clinic and takes lessons from an artisanal hash maker. In conversations with researchers, doctors, and patients around the world he learns how marijuana works—and doesn’t—in the real world.

Dr. Casarett unearths tales of near-miraculous success, such as a child with chronic seizures who finally found relief in cannabidiol oil. In Tel Aviv, he learns of a nursing home that’s found success giving marijuana to dementia patients. On the other hand, one patient who believed marijuana cured her lung cancer has clearly been misled. As Casarett sifts the myth and misinformation from the scientific evidence, he explains, among other things:

• Why marijuana might be the best treatment option for some types of pain
• Why there’s no significant risk of lung damage from smoking pot
• Why most marijuana-infused beer or wine won’t get you high

Often humorous, occasionally heartbreaking, and full of counterintuitive conclusions, Stoned offers a compassionate and much-needed medical practitioner’s perspective on the potential of this misunderstood plant.

About the Author

David Casarett, M.D. is a palliative care physician and health services researcher whose work focuses on improving systems of care for people with serious, life-threatening illnesses. He is a tenured Professor of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, the author of more than 100 scientific articles, and a recipient of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, the highest honor given by the U.S. government to researchers in the early stages of their careers. He is also the author of three non-fiction books: Last ActsShocked, and most recently, Stoned.