Former Federal Judge Nancy Gertner was appointed to the federal bench by Bill Clinton in 1994. She presided over trials for 17 years. And Sunday, she stood before a crowd at The Aspen Ideas Festival to denounce most punishments that she imposed.
Among 500 sanctions that she handed down, “80 percent I believe were unfair and disproportionate,” she said. “I left the bench in 2011 to join the Harvard faculty to write about those stories––to write about how it came to pass that I was obliged to sentence people to terms that, frankly, made no sense under any philosophy.”
Cannabis is increasingly known to treat a variety of ailments, but a new, unexpected use for the plant recently has emerged amid one of the worst man-made disasters in American history. Thousands of residents were sickened and evacuated when a decrepit methane storage well at SoCalGas’ northern Los Angeles Aliso Canyon facility ruptured, initiating a months-long blowout that unleashed 100,000 metric tons of methane into the atmosphere from October to February — though it’s possible an even higher volume was released.
Residents of Porter Ranch and other nearby communities experienced nausea, bloody noses, and skin rashes, to name a few symptoms. One resident of nearby Granada Hills, located only two miles from Aliso Canyon, though ineligible for relocation, began to experience staggering cluster headaches. They are often called “suicide headaches” because the chronic pain can be so extreme, doctors have seen patients kill themselves to escape it. The man, who wishes to remain anonymous for reasons explained in this article, developed the condition just days before SoCalGas publicly acknowledged the leak. With few options and in severe pain, he found relief from cannabidiol (CBD) oil.
Cannabidiol—CBD—is a cannabis compound that has significant medical benefits, but does not make people feel “stoned” and can actually counteract the psychoactivity of THC. The fact that CBD-rich cannabis is non-psychoactive or less psychoactive than THC-dominant strains makes it an appealing option for patients looking for relief from inflammation, pain, anxiety, psychosis, seizures, spasms, and other conditions without disconcerting feelings of lethargy or dysphoria.
Scientific and clinical research—much of it sponsored by the US government—underscores CBD’s potential as a treatment for a wide range of conditions, including arthritis, diabetes, alcoholism, MS, chronic pain, schizophrenia, PTSD, depression, antibiotic-resistant infections, epilepsy, and other neurological disorders. CBD has demonstrable neuroprotective and neurogenic effects, and its anti-cancer properties are currently being investigated at several academic research centers in the United States and elsewhere.
Cannabis has been at the center of one of the most exciting—and underreported—developments in modern science. Research on marijuana’s effects led directly to the discovery of a hitherto unknown biochemical communication system in the human body, the Endocannabinoid System, which plays a crucial role in regulating our physiology, mood, and everyday experience.
The discovery of receptors in the brain that respond pharmacologically to cannabis—and the subsequent identification of endogenous cannabinoid compounds in our own bodies that bind to these receptors—has significantly advanced our understanding of human biology, health, and disease.