Who’s Who in Medical Cannabis – Sunil K Aggarwal, MD, PhD – by c.a. riley

American Alliance for Medical Cannabis (AAMC)

Ten years ago the American Alliance for Medical Cannabis was formed by Dr. Jay R. Cavanaugh to promote the medical uses of marijuana. AAMC became a member of the Coalition for Rescheduling Cannabis which filed a petition with the federal government to remove marijuana from their “no medical use” classification. Nine years later the government has denied the petition.

AAMC now has directors active in 19 states (Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, Utah, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin). We are helping patients find the resources they need in order to benefit from medical cannabis.

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Dr.Cannabinergy, Sunil Kumar Aggarwal, MD, PhD, Physician-Scientist and Medical Geographer
Dr.Cannabinergy, Sunil Kumar Aggarwal, MD, PhD, Physician-Scientist and Medical Geographer

Who’s Who in Medical Cannabis -Sunil K Aggarwal, MD, PhD – by C.A.Riley


Dr Aggarwal is one of the most effective medical cannabis proponents few people outside the Seattle area have ever heard of.

It has been easy to find documentation of his myriad achievements in education, research, medicine, medical cannabis advocacy and more, but it has been nearly impossible to ferret out any personal information on Dr Aggarwal.

As a University of Washington medical student, Aggarwal told the crowd at the 2008 Seattle Hempfest, “We have to change the way people think about people and cannabis. This is a staple of the earth and a basic medicine for a lot of people.”

Long before his time at the University of Washington, in the early 1990s Sunil Aggarwal attended high school in Muskogee, Oklahoma until his Junior year when he went on to the Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics in Oklahoma City.

After finishing high school, Aggarwal left the Midwest in 1997 and traveled to the west coast, where he resumed his education at UC Berkeley–which included a semester of study abroad in Edinburgh. After 4.5 years at Berkeley, Sunil moved to Seattle and continued his studies at the University of Washington in the Geography Department.

There, he completed his first two years of med school, completed his doctorate in geography, writing his dissertation on the “medical geography of cannabinoid botanicals in Washington State.” Two more years of med school followed, in which Aggarwal focused on the Medical Scientist Training Program and the Global Health Pathway, graduating in June, 2010, some two years after his Hempfest proclamation. Dr Aggarwal also holds degrees in chemistry, philosophy and religious studies.

In conjunction with his dissertation, Dr Aggarwal conducted research with 176 chronically and critically ill patients in two groups, one from a rural pain clinic and the other from an urban cannabinoid botanical delivery clinic. At this writing, two peer-reviewed published articles have come from this work.

So, what led Dr Aggarwal to the medical cannabis movement?

It began while he was an undergraduate.

He says that when he discovered “marijuana wasn’t a horribly dangerous thing” he wanted to study it thoroughly and he has done so for at least the past decade.

When medical student Sunil K. Aggarwal convinced the UW chapter of the medical student group of the AMA to support a resolution he had written in support of rescheduling cannabis, he presented the idea and his research to the American Medical Association (AMA) at its annual meeting in 2008. The organization agreed to study the issue for a year.

At its 2009 meeting, the country’s largest physicians’ organization formally adopted a policy urging the federal government to reclassify, or “reschedule,” cannabis.

It was Aggarwal’s research, dissertation, and the two articles derived from it and published in the Journal of Opioid Management that helped convince the American Medical Association (AMA) of the potential for medical uses of cannabis and led the organization to reverse previous policy and call for the rescheduling of cannabis so that more research could be conducted upon it.

So far, the government has not changed its policy and, incredibly, has stepped up efforts to quash medical cannabis production in the states that have legalized it for medical use.

Dr Aggarwal also holds degrees in chemistry, philosophy and religious studies and is a much-sought-after speaker at medical, drug policy reform and other conferences and conventions.

Here’s a link to an interesting article by Dr Aggarwal. Aggarwal-Macroed.pdf

His new website: cannabinergy.com

The report drafted by the AMA’s Council on Science and Public Health asks for a “review” of marijuana’s classification but neither demands the government reschedule the drug nor emphasizes the need Aggarwal believes hundreds of thousands of patients have for the drug’s medicinal properties.

“I tried as best as I could to make the language stronger than it was, but that was as far as it was going,” Aggarwal said. “But I realized that even at that level, it would still be a big shift.”

And not just for the medical community. Speaking at Hempfest last year, Aggarwal urged the crowd not to feel like criminals.

The government hasn’t shown any sign of following the AMA’s suggestion just yet, though it’s hardly the first organization to call for change. Last year, the American College of Physicians also urged the government to reconsider marijuana.

Aggarwal, who expects to stay in what he calls the now “exploding” field of cannabinoid science after he graduates in June, is sure change is coming.

“I’m pretty happy,” he said. “This Schedule 1 thing is going to be a thing of the past.”


Dr,Cannabinergy, Sunil Kumar Aggarwal MD, PhD, Physician-Scientist and Medical GeographerAsk Your Questions and Talk to Dr.Cannabinergy