Pioneers of Medical Cannabis: Chris Conrad: Expert Witness

By Dr. Frank Lucido

As we approach the November elections, in which California voters will get to decide if cannabis can be taxed and regulated in 2010, I think about how fortunate I have been to have met so many of the pioneers who brought us to the point where marijuana may soon be taxed and regulated like many other products, prescription or non-prescription, medical or non-medical.

I have begun to list some of the people whom I consider Pioneers of Medical Cannabis.
(See end of this blog for my first pass as a list of 20 or so pioneers which I could easily expand to 100 with just the great people I know in the Bay Area!)

I begin with Chris Conrad, author, cultivation expert, expert witness, and along with his wife Mikki Norris, editor of West Coast Leaf, one of the premier newspapers about cannabis and hemp.

I am pleased to be able to say that I met Chris Conrad some years BEFORE the passage of Prop 215 (the California Compassionate Use Act of 1996)
Chris has been a hemp and cannabis expert for decades, well pre-dating Prop 215.

As he says on his website:

“Court-qualified expert witness in at least 35 California counties”
“Qualified as an expert in cannabis cultivation, sex, genetics, cloning, crop yields, preparation, smell, medical use, personal use, dosage, consumption, sales, and commercial intent.”

Now besides practicing medicine in Berkeley since 1979, I have worked as an medical expert witness in malpractices cases, reviewing cases for the plaintiff, also since before Prop 215. I found it fairly easy to transfer these skills to being an expert in medical cannabis cases, but it was nice to see Chris in action, and learn from a master.

Learning from the master, Chris Conrad:
A few years ago, Chris and I were both testifying at a pre-trial hearing in which attorneys from both sides took our depositions under oath.

The issue was that one of my patients had been growing his own medicine, and the prosecutor was accusing him of having too much cannabis for personal use. He had 12 plants, none of which were mature per Chris’s expert testimony, but because he had saved the poor quality grow from the prior year, he had almost two pounds of cannabis, including leaf.

Because I testified first, Chris was instructed to leave the room, so that his testimony wouldn’t be affected by hearing my testimony. One of the first questions which the prosecuting attorney asked me was: “Do you believe that marijuana should be legalized?”

I was caught off-guard, by the question, and realized I needed to come up with a truthful answer.

I’m still not sure what I was about to say, but before I could say anything, my patient’s attorney chimed in: “Objection! Dr. Lucido is a procipient witness.” (as opposed to an expert witness, the distinction being that my involvement with the patient was BEFORE the event for which the patients was being tried, so my “legal” opinions were not relevant in this case.)
The objection was “sustained”, and the prosecutor continued with other questions, which I answered.

Later, when Chris was being deposed, I was allowed to remain in the courtroom, since my his testimony could no longer affect mine.

When Chris was asked the same question: “Do you believe that marijuana should be legalized?”, Chris said without missing a beat: “For adults.”

I’m not sure exactly what I would have answered. It would have been similar, but unlikely to be so elegantly simple.
Good work, Chris! It’s nice to see a master at work.

Chris Conrad websites:

More Cannabis Pioneers:
per wikipedia (Proposition 215) the following 6 are listed as co-authors of Prop 215:
Dennis Peron,
Anna Boyce [RN],
Valerie Corral
Dale Gieringer,
William Panzer,
Scott Imler,
Tod H. Mikuriya

Frank’s additions:
Chris Conrad
Mikki Norris
Valerie Corral (, and Mike Corral and Mimi Hill from WAMM
Mike Aldrich
Michelle Aldrich
Jack Herer
Ed Rosenthal, Jane Klein

In Memoriam

Steve McWilliams
Jane Weirick
Mike Alcalay MD
Tod H. Mikuriya MD
Virginia Resner
John Morgan MD and Lynn Zimmer
Claudia Jensen MD


Jack Herer (editor’s addition)

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