Richard E. Musty  1942 - 2015


The longtime Executive Director of the International Cannabinoid Research Society, Rik Musty, died July 26, at home in Wacouta, Minnesota.

Rik was born in Minnesota, earned a BA from Carleton College in Minnesota, and a PhD in Psychology from McGill in 1968. He joined the University of Vermont faculty in 1968, and chaired the Department of Psychology from 1975 to 1987. He mentored 31 Masters and Doctoral students, and served on the committees of 20 additional theses and dissertations.

His cannabinoid research began in 1973, as a Visiting Professor in Sao Paulo Brazil, working with Karniol and Carlini. That fruitful collaboration continued through 2006, bolstered by sabbatical leaves to Brazil in 1981 and 2004. PubMed lists 25 publications, which does not include a dozen book chapters. A 1997 publication by Rik and others has been cited over 200 times, and encouraged the development of a cannabis-based medicine for the treatment of multiple sclerosis. Upon his retirement in 2006, the International Association for Cannabis as Medicine (IACM) presented Rik with a special award for outstanding work on cannabis and the cannabinoids.

In 1987, Rik, Greg Chesher, and Paul Consroe chaired the Melbourne Symposium on Cannabinoids (following an IUPHAR meeting) and edited a report published by the Australian government.

In 1990 Rik and Alex Makriyannis organized a cannabinoid symposium in Crete, a precursor to the founding of the International Cannabis Research Society in 1992. (The C-word was subsequently changed to Cannabinoid). Rik was among the 50 charter members, along with others still active in the ICRS: Greg Chesher, Dale Deutsch, Mahmoud ElSohly, Javier Fernandez-Ruiz, Eliot Gardner, Allyn Howlett, Toby Jarbe, Thomas Lundqvist, Alex Makriyannis, Raphael Mechoulam, Rik Musty, Roger Pertwee, Patti Reggio, David Taylor and Herb Seltzman.

Rik served as the ICRS executive director through 2010. Assisted by Diane Mahadeen Musty, he ran exceptionally collegial, increasingly well-attended meetings in memorable locations.  ICRS acknowledged his exceptional contribution to the society through an ICRS Career Achievement Award presented at the Lund meeting in 2010.

Rik was a quiet-spoken man with wide interests. Few people know his political career. Rik teamed with Bernie Sanders in 1982, which propelled both of them into office—Rik as Burlington City Councilman for Ward 1, and Bernie as Mayor. In 1986 the two men taught a course at the University of Vermont on “The ‘60s.”

Rik’s political skills were on display at the 1998 ICRS meeting in La Grand Motte, France. At the end of the NIDA presentations, Ed Rosenthal of High Times bluntly asked “Do any of you think your work is influenced by Alan Leshner's bias?"  There was a pause as the panelists looked at each other to see who would respond. After a few beats Rik said, "Science is always influenced by the culture in which it's conducted.”

Earlier this year Rik forwarded (to F.G.) a warning posted on the US Food and Drug Administration website about products falsely labeled as to their cannabidiol content. He said he hoped that, “as the first U.S. researcher to investigate CBD,” his request to the FDA for more information would be honored.

His Minnesota sense of humor was like Garrison Keillor’s. My (J. McP.) first appointment to meet Rik at his office in October 1993 was delayed by a freak Autumn snowstorm. My second visit in May 1994 also occurred in the midst of an unseasonable snowstorm that shut down Burlington. Rik smiled and asked me to limit my visits to normal winter months. He will be missed.

          John McPartland and Fred Gardner


Rik Musty:  An ICRS Founder

Rik and Diane at ICRS2003, Cornwall, CAN

Photo courtesy of Roger Pertwee