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Dr. Pot, or 'The Most Dangerous Man in Oregon'Willie Hayward for Salem-News.com
U of W senior journalism major, Willie Hayward interviews Dr. Phil Leveque.
(MOLALLA, Ore.) - He is known by several different aliases that he didn’t personally create: Dr. Pot, Dope Dealer, Snake Oil Salesman, you get the idea. The Oregonian coined him as a “danger to all his patients and the public in general” and the Oregon Medical licensing board claimed he “poses an imminent risk to public health and safety” and revoked his medical license in 2004. How does one come to be so highly esteemed in the state of Oregon?
Dr. Phil Leveque is a leading advocate for the legalization of medical cannabis, also known as medical marijuana. During his time as a licensed osteopathic physician in the state of Oregon, he signed over 50% of patient applications for medical marijuana in Oregon, gaining about 5,000 patients from various counties in the state. People would travel over an hour to visit Leveque at his base in Molalla, Oregon.
Lecturing about the medical background and benefits of cannabis in colleges and universities across the nation, proactively creating his own content online at Salem-news (over 160 articles and 20 videos), and making himself available for people with questions about medical marijuana, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more passionate advocate than Leveque, or as knowledgeable. Leveque has an extensive background in the field of medicine, having degrees in chemistry and biochemistry, earning his PhD in pharmacology and toxicology, and working as an osteopathic physician and forensic toxicologist.
Long-time friend of Leveque’s, Alfred Stanely said: “He is passionately patriotic veteran and an old-school doctor who is more interested in helping others than helping himself.”
About 60 years ago, Leveque was a PhD candidate at the medical school at the University of Oregon. One of his first tasks was to straighten out a stockroom.
“…and the first thing I discovered was a gallon jug of cannabis cough medicine,” recalled Leveque.
Leveque said that the cough medicine was manufactured by one of the most important drug manufacturers at the time, Park Davis, a company that was in fact was paying Leveque a stipend of $100 a month to go to medical school.
“So I said to myself, “Well, Park Davis is one of the top drug companies in the world, why would they make something dangerous or harmful?” This was in 1950, and so from 1950 onwards, I started studying the pharmacology of cannabis marijuana,” said Leveque.
But Leveque didn’t go on to become an osteopath and target of the Oregon medical licensing board right after he earned his PhD. He spent the next 25 years as a professor, teaching in 10 different colleges and universities in the U.S., and spending two years teaching in Africa through the University of London.
He then settled down as a retired professor in Oregon, and continued on to pursue an occupation as an osteopathic physician and forensic toxicologist.
Over five years have now passed since Leveque’s license that allowed him to sign off applications for patients seeking medical marijuana, was revoked.
Leveque said that the medical licensing board took away his license because four other doctors in Oregon complained that he was “stealing their patients and doping them up.” Once his license was revoked, it left “5,000 patients hanging by their thumbs… and many of them still haven’t been able to find doctors that will help them.” He said that the medical board is trying to make an example of him to scare other doctors in hopes of preventing the signing of medical marijuana applications.
“They tried to frighten every other doctor in Oregon by revoking my license, didn’t work, because the other doctor says, “they’re spending all their time harassing Dr. Leveque, they’re going to leave us alone,” and that’s what happened,” explained Leveque.
Because he was deemed a “danger” in the Oregonian, Leveque joked: “I’m known by my friends as the most dangerous man in Oregon.”
As an osteopath physician, Dr. Leveque would read patient’s charts, which were diagnoses of their medical condition written up by another doctor. And if the medical condition was acceptable to standards set by the state of Oregon, Leveque would sign their applications.
Many of Leveque’s former patients were war veterans who returned home from war with many medical problems, one of which is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD.
“I have PTSD myself, from my service in WWII, and I know that it is real,” said Leveque.
During WWII, the draft board deterred his service in exchange for continuing his education in the field of chemistry at the University of Oregon. But after he finished his undergraduate studies early, Leveque volunteered his services for the war. Because of a childhood accident, Leveque is missing most of his index finger, also known as the “trigger finger”, and that detail essentially placed him in combat infantry.
Like a countless number of veterans that make it back from the war, Leveque suffers from recollections of the harrowing moments during combat. Sixty-five years later, Leveque still suffers from “reoccurring, unbelievably real and terrifying” nightmares, namely caused by his worst day in the war, when his outfit lost 150 men just in crossing the Rhine river. Leveque said that many service men don’t talk about the war because they can’t, and many others went crazy on the battlefield and literally committed suicide by standing up in enemy fire.
Leveque said that the state of Oregon has yet to recognize PTSD in veterans as a real medical problem; that their attitude toward the psychological problem is that “it’s all in your head.”
“Well, yes, it is all in your head… but people do not develop psychosis because they want to get psychosis. PTSD causes bad psychological problems. Veterans do not want to have PTSD, and would like some good medical care,” said Leveque.
According to his veteran friends, Leveque said that they tell him that the only medicine that helps alleviate their PTSD is medical marijuana. And the Veterans Administration will not support veterans with PTSD to use medical marijuana.
Amidst criticism, Leveque stands by the fact that marijuana is “the safest drug that has been found by man…and is less addicting than a cup of Starbucks coffee.”
“You can’t name any other medicine that is less harmful than medical marijuana,” said Leveque, and jokingly added: “Maybe cranberry juice.”
Today, there are 14 states in the nation that permit the signing of medical marijuana applications, and Leveque predicts that as many as ten states will follow in legalizing medical marijuana this year.
Willie Hayward is a senior journalism major at the University of Washington. Her father, Al Hayward, has a long and rich history in Oregon advertising and politics. Willie was first introduced to our readers when she graduated from high school with a nearly unheard of, 4.3 grade point average. Now, years later, she contributes her first article to Salem-News.com, about our distinguished mentor, Dr. Phil Leveque, a family friend of many years of both the Hayward's and the King's.
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