ASA's Multidisciplinary Scientific Advisory Board
Michelle Sexton, BS ND (Chair): Dr. Sexton is a clinical researcher, senior postdoctoral fellow (National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine: NCCAM) at the University of Washington in Seattle, WA and a private practice physician specializing in cannabinoid medicine. As a certified herbalist since 1990, Dr. Sexton practiced midwifery in Texas prior to medical school, and earned her medical degree from Bastyr University in Seattle, WA. She has been involved in basic science research since her undergraduate degree (Horticulture) at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, TX.
Dr. Sexton first learned the analytical skills needed for phytochemical analysis of botanical medicines while at Texas Tech, and continued in this area of research at Bastyr University. While there on a pre-doctoral training grant award (T32), she began studying the endogenous cannabinoid signaling system (eCBss) in the lab of Dr. Nephi Stella at the University of Washington. While in Dr. Stella’s lab (2004 to present), she has been able to bring together her knowledge of botanical medicine, analytical techniques, medical degree and the study of neuroinflammation and the eCBss to conduct a clinical study, currently enrolling subjects: Novel Immune Markers in patients with Multiple Sclerosis (NIMMS). In this study she is looking at the effects of Cannabis use on immune function in healthy subjects and patients with MS.
Americans for Safe Access has appointed Dr. Sexton as liaison to the American Herbal Pharmacopoeia as an advisor on the development of a Cannabis monograph. Dr. Sexton currently serves as the chair of the Multidisciplinary Scientific Advisory Board for Americans for Safe Access. She is a published author and speaker, and member of the International Cannabinoid Research Society (ICRS), International Association for Cannabis Medicine (IACM), and American Association for Naturopathic Physicians (AANP).
Jahan Marcu, PhD (Vice-Chair): Jahan Marcu is currently investigating the pharmacology of cannabinoid receptors. Before joining the PhD program at Temple University, he worked at the California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute where exciting discoveries were made showing enhanced anti-cancer effects with THC and CBD from the Cannabis plant. The findings were published in the Journal of Molecular Cancer Therapeutics. In 2009 he received the Billy Martin Award from the International Cannabinoid Research Society (ICRS). Jahan has served as a volunteer for Americans for Safe Access (ASA) since 2003 and is currently the vice-chair the ASA Medical and Scientific Advisory Board.
Sunil Aggarwal, MD, PhD: Sunil Kumar Aggarwal is a graduate of the University of Washington’s NIH-supported Medical Scientist Training Program. He received his M.D. in 2010 and his Ph.D. in Medical Geography in 2008.He is currently completing his internship year in Preliminary Internal Medicine at Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle, Washington and will be continuing his Residency in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at New York University’s Rusk Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine starting in July 2011. As an NSF Graduate Research Fellow, Dr. Aggarwal conducted and published human studies of medical cannabis use under the first-ever granted federal Certificates of Confidentiality which protected 176 enrolled study subjects recruited both from sites of both cannabis delivery and medical consultation. He has authored or co-authored papers on cannabinoid medical science, dosing, and human rights published in journals of Pain medicine, Hospice and Palliative Medicine, General Medicine, and Law, in addition to a book chapter for the general public. He has given presentations at the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy and the University of Denver School of Law, with his writing and testimony being used by several state health agencies in the United States such as the Iowa and Oregon Boards of Pharmacy as expert evidence in policymaking. During medical school, he was a delegate to the AMA Medical Student Section and successfully lobbied the Washington State Medical Association and AMA, through education and internal coalition-building, to change their position on the scheduling status of cannabis, or ‘mari(h/j)uana’ as it is known in the federal schedules. He served as served as a expert reviewer for the AMA Council on Science and Public Health’s report on medical cannabis science. The AMA now urges the government to reconsider the schedule I status of this substance and have struck down their prior policy advocating for its retention in schedule I. This development was broadcast on CNN, the LA Times, Nature, Scientific American, CBSNews, Newsweek, and many other outlets. Aggarwal recently formed a group called Health Professionals for Responsible Drug Scheduling.
Amanda Reiman, MSW, PhD: Amanda Reiman is the Director of Research For Berkeley Patients Group, a community-based medical cannabis dispensary, a lecturer in the School of Social Welfare at the University of California, Berkeley, and an Affiliate Scientist at the Alcohol Research Group in Emeryville, California. Dr. Reiman has a Master’s Degree in Social Work from the University of Illinois, Chicago, a PhD in Social Welfare from the University of California, Berkeley and completed a postdoctoral fellowship with the School of Public Health at the University of California, Berkeley. Dr. Reiman’s dissertation, Cannabis Care: Medical Cannabis Facilities as Health Service Providers, was the first in depth study of medical cannabis patients through dispensaries. She has published numerous articles on medical cannabis dispensaries, patients and the use of cannabis as a substitute for alcohol. At Berkeley, Dr. Reiman teaches Substance Abuse Treatment and Drug and Alcohol Policy. Dr. Reiman served as the Chairwoman of the first Medical Cannabis Commission for the City of Berkeley and has consulted with other cities in the Bay Area regarding medical cannabis policy and dispensing. Dr. Reiman regularly presents her research on cannabis use at National and International conferences including the International Cannabinoid Research Symposium, the International Conference on Safe Medicine, the American Public Health Conference, the National NORML Conference and the Harm Reduction Conference. Dr. Reiman is a member of the Multidisciplinary Scientific Advisory Board (MSAB) for Americans for Safe Access, a consortium of health professionals, researchers and academics. The MSAB includes individuals from the fields of Internal Medicine, Psychiatry, Addictions, Osteopathy, Sociology, Public Health, Public Policy, and Law from across the world.
David Bearman, MD: David Bearman is one of the most clinically knowledgable physicians in the U.S. in the field of medicinal marijuana and was a pioneer in the free and community clinic movement. His career includes public health, administrative medicine, provision of primary care, pain management and cannabinology. Dr. Bearman has taught courses on psychoactive drugs at UCSF, UCSB and SDSU, and has worked at all levels of government including USPHS, Director of Sutter County Health Department, and Director of SDSU Student Health Services. He has over 40 years of experience providing drug abuse treatment and prevention and was named Doctor of the Day by the Wall Street Journal Medical Blog in 2007.
In 2001 after retiring as Deputy Director of the Santa Barbara Regional Health Authority, Dr. Bearman began his private practice in the field of pain management. He has served as an expert witness in numerous court cases and has written articles for journals and magazines as well as the book Demons, Discrimination, and Dollars: A Brief History of American Drug Policy. Dr. Bearman was recently recognized by NORML with the Peter McWilliams Award for his work in promoting medical cannabis.
Rielle Capler, MHA: Rielle Capler has an undergraduate degree in psychology and a Masters degree in health administration from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. She has been working in the medical cannabis field for over 12 years. From 1999-2007, Rielle was the research coordinator and policy analyst at the British Columbia Compassion Club Society, Canada’s oldest and largest non-profit medicinal cannabis dispensary and natural health care centre. From 2007-2009, Rielle was a research associate at the Centre for Addictions Research of B.C. and at the Centre for Applied Research in Mental Health and Addiction at Simon Fraser University, where she worked on knowledge translation and harm reduction research. Rielle is a co-founder and advisory board members of the Canadian Association of Medical Cannabis Dispensaries, incorporated in 2011 and is a founding director of Canadians for Safe Access, a national organization promoting safe access to cannabis for medical use and research, established in 2003. Rielle is on the advisory board of Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy and is on the Drug Policy Committee of the BC Civil Liberties Association. Rielle is currently a co-investigator on the Health Effects of Medical Marijuana Project (HEMMP) research study at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver and the Cannabis for Medical Purposes Survey (CAMPS) at the University of British Columbia, Okanagan. She is the co-author of several peer-reviewed academic papers relating to the use of cannabis. Her chapter, Canadian Compassion Clubs, was recently published in the 2010 anthology The Pot Book. Rielle is beginning a PhD program in Interdisciplinary Graduate Studies at the University of British Columbia in 2011.
Wendy Chapkis: Wendy Chapkis is a Professor of Sociology and the Director of Women and Gender Studies at the University of Southern Maine, and Vice President of the Society for the Study of Social Problems. She is the author of three books including Dying to Get High: Marijuana as Medicine (co-authored with Richard J. Webb, 2008, New York University Press).
William Courtney, MD: Dr. Courtney received his BS in Microbiology from the University of Michigan and his medical degree from Wayne State University before completing his residency in psychiatry at California Pacific Medical Center. He has served as an expert witness on the reasonable use of cannabis as well as a consultant to state, county, and municipal bodies regarding clinical cannabis and has authored several papers on dietary cannabinoids. In addition to being a member of ASA’s MSAB, Dr. Courtney is also a member of the American Academy of Cannabinoid Medicine, the International Cannabinoid Research Society, the International Association of Cannabis as Medicine, and the Society of Clinical Cannabis.
Lyle Craker, PhD: Dr. Craker is a professor in the Department of Plant, Soil, & Insect Sciences at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. Since 2001, Dr. Craker has been attempting to secure a license from the United States Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) for permission to grow cannabis for research purposes. Dr. Craker received his Bachelor of Science degree in agronomy from the University of Wisconsin, his PhD in agronomy and plant genetics with a specialty in plant physiology from the University of Minnesota, and an Associates degree in business administration from the Massachusetts Bay Community College.
Mitch Earleywine: Mitch Earleywine is an associate professor of Clinical Psychology at the State University of New York at Albany. Dr. Earleywine received his bachelor’s degree from Columbia University and his doctorate from Indiana University and is the author of Understanding Marijuana, Pot Politics, and Parents’ Guide to Marijuana as well as numerous articles in scientific journals.
Christopher Fichtner, MD: Christopher Fichtner is a Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine. He has clinical and administrative public mental health experience in federal (U.S. Veterans Affairs), state and county systems, and served as state mental health director for Illinois from 2003 to 2005. Dr. Fichtner is an advocate for a consumer-driven, recovery-oriented, person-centered approach to healthcare, and believes that the medical marijuana revolution provides a prism through which every major healthcare policy issue is refracted. He credits medicinal cannabis consumers and policy advocates for challenging him to review the evidence on cannabis therapeutics.
Dr. Fichtner has served on the faculty of several medical schools, including the University of Chicago, and currently holds a volunteer appointment as Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine in Springfield. Certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology (psychiatry), the American Psychiatric Association (administrative psychiatry), and the Certifying Commission on Medical Management, he is a Fellow of the American College of Physician Executives and a Past President of the American Association of Psychiatric Administrators. Dr. Fichtner is a graduate of the University of California at Riverside (B.S.), Columbia University in the City of New York (M.A.), Princeton Theological Seminary (M.Div.), and the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine (M.D., 1987). He completed his residency in psychiatry at the University of Illinois Medical Center in Chicago.
Gregory Gerdeman, PhD: Gregory Gerdeman is an Assistant Professor of Biology at Eckerd College in Saint Petersburg, Florida, where he teaches courses in Cell Biology, Human Physiology, Receptor Pharmacology and Neuroscience. His primary research interests over the past 15 years have focused on the endocannabinoid system and its roles in neurophysiology, neuroprotection, synaptic plasticity and habit learning. Dr. Gerdeman’s dissertation (Pharmacology, Vanderbilt University) included some of the first published studies revealing endocannabinoids as retrograde synaptic messengers important for cellular models of learning and memory. He has received research support from the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Science Foundation, and his articles have appeared in journals such as Nature Neuroscience, Neuropsychopharmacology and Trends in Neuroscience. He has been an active member of the Society for Neuroscience and the International Cannabinoid Research Society, and was a NIDA-funded postdoctoral research associate in the Department of Pharmacology at the University of Arizona Health Sciences Center.
In 2008, Dr. Gerdeman transitioned from a path of full time biomedical research to his current position, where he is dedicated to liberal arts education at the undergraduate level. His ongoing research includes studies of the evolution and comparative physiology of endocannabinoids and neuropeptides.
Jeff Hergenrather, MD: Dr. Hergenrather is a physician specializing in cannabis consultations, currently practicing in Sebastopol, CA. He received undergraduate degrees from both the University of Colorado, Boulder and the University of California, Berkeley before receiving his medical degree at Brown University. In addition to various peer reviewed papers, Dr. Hergenrather has also given numerous lectures and presentations on the medical use of cannabis. He is a founding member of the California Cannabis Research Medical Group as well as a member of the American Academy of Cannabinoid Medicine, the International Cannabinoid Research Society, and the International Association for Cannabis as Medicine.
Jennifer Janichek, MA: Jennifer Janichek is a harm reduction clinician and clinical consultant. Jennifer’s experiences as a clinician, researcher, and drug policy reform activist have culminated into development of an innovative harm reduction based clinical services program for medical cannabis patients. Ms. Janichek is the program director for the Harborside Health Center Substance Use and Misuse holistic care program in Oakland and San Jose, CA. The clinical program assists patients in maximizing the therapeutic benefits of cannabis as part of a treatment trajectory for mental health symptom management, as well as assists patients in exiting from addiction to more harmful substances. Jennifer has orated about the merits of harm reduction to local groups and at national and international conferences. Previously Ms. Janichek lead a Housing First Assertive Community Treatment team in Washington, DC, served as Vice Chair of the Students for Sensible Drug Policy Board of Directors, co-founded and is currently an advisory member of the Illinois Consortium on Drug Policy, and served on the Steering Council for the Midwest Harm Reduction Institute.
Claudia Little, BSN, MPH: Claudia Little graduated from San Jose State Univerisity in 1967, was an officer in the Navy Nurse Corp during the Vietnam War and subsequently earned a Master of Public Health Degree from Tulane University in '72 and Nurse Practitioner certification from UCSF in '74.
Ms. Little started the first contraceptive clinic on a state funded university campus at UCLA during the 70's and later helped establish the first infertility clinic at Kaiser, San Diego in the '80's. During the 90's, Ms Little became a top sales rep for Johnson and Johnson, selling patient controlled analgesia (PCA) pumps. Later, as an Immunology Specialist for the same company, she was a member of the team that launched the highly successful drug, Remicade, for the control of Crohn's disease and rheumatoid arthritis.
Since retiring, Ms Little has been a member of American's for Safe Access's Medical Advisory Board, an advocacy group for Medical Marijuana patients. She has organized successful signature drives, met with US Representatives who became co-signers on MMJ patient rights bills, organized press events and has been a panelist at various presentations.
She has lived in Ashland, Oregon with her husband since 2007 where she continues her work to educate healthcare professionals as well as the lay public regarding medical cannabis research.
Philippe Lucas, MA: Philippe Lucas has recently completed a Master’s degree in the University of Victoria Studies in Policy and Practice program, and is a Research Affiliate with the Center for Addictions Research of British Columbia (CARBC) and a member of the member of the CARBC Advisory Board. Additionally, Philippe is currently a board member of Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy (CSSDP), Canadians for Safe Access (CSA), and the Multidisciplinary Association of Psychedelic Studies Canada (MAPS Canada). In 2008 he was elected to Victoria City Council, where his focus has been social justice issues such as harm reduction, homelessness, environmental sustainability and food security.
Perhaps best known for his work on medical cannabis, Philippe is the founder of the Vancouver Island Compassion Society, one of North America’s most respected non-profit medical cannabis research and distribution centers. He has had the opportunity to share his expertise and research at home and abroad, including presentations before the Canadian House of Commons and Senate, and consultations with the state of New Mexico and the Israeli Ministry of Health. His current research interests include the use of cannabis, ibogaine, and ayahuasca in the treatment of addiction.
Robert Melamede, PhD: Robert Melamede is an associate professor of biology at the University of Colorado. Dr. Melamede is an expert on the biology of the cannabis plant, how it relates to the human endocannabinoid system, and why the cannabis plant has the potential to affect so many diseases and illnesses. Dr. Robert Melamede received his Ph.D. from the City University of New York. From there he became a Research Associate and Research Assistant Professor at New York Medical College. In 1989 he became a Research Assistant Professor at the University of Vermont. In 2001 he moved to the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs as an Associate Professor, and became the Chairman of the Biology Department until he retired as Chairman in the Fall of 2005. Dr. Melamede's expertise has been the repair of DNA damages caused by free radicals, the production of monoclonal antibodies via phage display, far from equilibrium thermodynamics as applied to biological systems, and pulling these all together, the endocannabinoid system. Additionally, Dr. Melamede is a founder of a small biotech company (Newellink) exploring novel cancer therapies and is the Program Director for the Phoenix Tears Foundation.
Karen Munkacy, MD: Dr. Munkacy received her BS in Biomedical Science from the University of Michigan and is also a graduate of the University of Michigan Medical School. Dr. Munkacy has a broad public health background including comprehensive experience in clinical practice, training doctors, research, clinical consulting, and system development. She is also board certified in Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine. In addition to her participation on ASA’S MSAB, Dr. Munkacy is also currently a board member for the Rothschild Foundation.
David Ostrow, MD, PhD: David G Ostrow is an internationally known Addictions and HIV researcher, clinician and educator. He co-founded the first gay community health facility in the US, what is now the Howard Brown Health Center of Chicago. In 1983 he was a founding PI of the Mulicenter AIDS Cohort Study (the MACS) which is the largest and most productive study of men with or at risk of HIV infection, now in its 28th year. He has published over 200 papers and 12 books, mostly on the links between illicit drug use and HIV infection & disease progression. In 2007 he petitioned the AMA and other national medical associations to endorse Medical Cannabis and to protect MC patients in state legalized programs. He us now a VP of the American Academy of Cannabinoid Medicine and is focusing his MC advocacy efforts on the creation of a No American Community-based Clinical Cannabis Research Network.
Ken Wolski, RN, MPA: Ken Wolski has been a Registered Nurse since 1976. He is currently licensed to practice as an RN in New Jersey and Pennsylvania and is self-employed. Mr. Wolski retired in 2006 from the State of New Jersey after 25 years of service. He had served with the Department of Human Services and the Department of Corrections as a Staff Nurse, Head Nurse, Supervisor of Nurses, Infection Control Officer, Quality Assurance Coordinator, and Health Services Manager. He also served as chairman of the statewide Policy Committee and the statewide Telemedicine Committee for the Department of Corrections.
In addition to Mr. Wolski’s state service, he also worked for eight years in Acute Care Facilities (General, Psychiatric, and University Hospitals) as an Intensive Care and Cardiac Care Nurse and also worked as a Public Health Nurse for the City of Trenton.