David L. Nathan

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David L. Nathan (born 1968) is an American psychiatrist, writer, and founder and Board President of Doctors for Cannabis Regulation. Best known for his advocacy of marijuana legalization, he has also published research in the academic and lay press on a range of other topics, including archeology, numismatics, the history of animation and early American football.

Originally from the Philadelphia area, Nathan graduated magna cum laude from Princeton University. He received his M.D. from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, where he distinguished himself in the development of medical education software.[1] He subsequently competed his psychiatry residency at McLean Hospital, an affiliate of Harvard Medical School, serving as Chief Resident of Bipolar and Psychotic Disorders in 1993–1994.

In addition to his writing and political activism, Nathan has a private practice in Princeton, New Jersey. He is the Director of Continuing Education at the Princeton HealthCare System and a clinical associate professor at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.

Marijuana legalization[edit]

Drawing from his experience in clinical psychiatry and the treatment of substance use disorders, Nathan is a vocal physician advocate of cannabis legalization. He has published numerous articles on the topic.[2][3][4] Nathan was one of the founding steering committee members of New Jersey United for Marijuana Reform, speaking at their televised launch in early 2015.[5] He was the first physician in New Jersey history to testify about marijuana legalization at the state legislature later that year.[6]

In 2016, Nathan founded Doctors For Cannabis Regulation (DFCR), which advocates for the legalization, regulation and taxation of marijuana.[7][8][9] He wrote the organization's “Declaration of Principles,”[10] which was signed by number of nationally prominent physicians, including Joycelyn Elders, Andrew Weil, Chris Beyrer, David Lewis, and Lester Grinspoon.

Other selected publications and projects[edit]

In archeology, Nathan published an analysis of a proto-cuneiform tablet dating to the Jemdet Nasr period of Mesopotamia (circa 3100-3000 BCE), which included the discovery of a previously unknown numerical sign.[11]

In numismatics, Nathan proposed that the first coins minted in the Western Hemisphere feature a Hebrew letter aleph (א), suggesting direct evidence for a Jewish presence or influence in the New World as early as 1536.[12] He noted that nearly all of the coin dies prepared under the tenure of the Mexican Mint's first assayer use this purported aleph symbol in place of the Christian cross potent mark found almost universally on medieval Spanish and Mexican coinage. Nathan also considered possible Jewish family connections to the known early Mexican mint workers.[13]

While researching the history of early animation, Nathan reconstructed the lost “Encore” sequence from Winsor McCay’s animated film Gertie using original drawings from 1914. With animation historian Donald Crafton, he coauthored an article about the structure and history of Gertie.[14] Nathan initiated a restoration of the entire film and a reconstruction of McCay's original vaudeville performance of Gertie. Crafton, Nathan and Marco de Blois of the Cinémathèque québécoise worked with a team of professionals from the National Film Board of Canada to complete the project, which premiered live during the closing ceremony of the 2018 Annecy Film Festival in France.[15]

Publishing in the Princeton Alumni Weekly, Nathan was the first to identify all 24 known members of Princeton University’s 1869 football team, who participated in the first intercollegiate American football game.[16] He published biographies and photographs of all the known players and shared his research into the possible identity of the unknown 25th player.[17]

Awards and honors[edit]

In 1990, Nathan received Princeton's Charles M. Cannon Memorial Prize for his senior thesis entitled Web Repair in Several Species of Orb Weaving Spiders.[18] In 2007, Nathan won the Odesser Award for Outstanding Contribution to Judaic Numismatics and Exonumia for his article on early Mexican coins.[19] In 2012, Nathan was elected as a Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association.[20]


  1. ^ Molinoff, Sharon. “Computer aids come to Med School.” The Daily Pennsylvanian, Volume CVII, Number 91, 18 October 1991, p. 5. http://penn.veridiansoftware.com/cgi-bin/pennsylvania?a=d&d=tdp19911018-01.2.20#
  2. ^ Nathan, David L. “A Doctor’s Case for Legal Pot.” Wall Street Journal. January 15, 2010. p. 21. https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052748703414504575001192775584982
  3. ^ Nathan, David L. “How to Regulate Pot When It’s Legal.” CNN.com. August 26, 2013. Featured Op-Ed. http://www.cnn.com/2013/08/27/opinion/nathan-pot-regulation/
  4. ^ Nathan, David L. “Is It High Time? Fresh looks at marijuana.” Barron’s. March 7, 2011. pp. 30-31. http://online.barrons.com/articles/SB50001424052970204309104576172750970541850
  5. ^ NJTV: “Debate to Legalize Marijuana in New Jersey.” http://www.njtvonline.org/news/video/debate-to-legalize-marijuana-in-new-jersey/
  6. ^ Rizzo, Salvador. “Battle over legalizing marijuana taking shape in New Jersey.” November 17, 2015. http://www.northjersey.com/news/battle-over-legalizing-marijuana-taking-shape-in-new-jersey-1.1456519?page=all
  7. ^ Doctors For Cannabis Regulation, dfcr.org.
  8. ^ Ingraham, Chris. "More and more doctors want to make marijuana legal." Washington Post, April 15, 2016. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/04/15/more-and-more-doctors-want-to-make-marijuana-legal/
  9. ^ Downs, David. "New Group 'Doctors For Cannabis Regulation' Is Going to Euthanize the War on Weed." East Bay Press, April 20, 2016. http://www.eastbayexpress.com/LegalizationNation/archives/2016/04/20/new-group-doctors-for-cannabis-regulation-is-going-to-euthanize-the-war-on-weed
  10. ^ http://dfcr.org/wp-content/uploads/Declaration-of-Principles-1.pdf[permanent dead link]
  11. ^ Nathan, David L. “A ‘New’ Proto-Cuneiform Tablet.” Cuneiform Digital Library Bulletin 2003:4. http://cdli.ucla.edu/pubs/cdlb/2003/cdlb2003_004.html
  12. ^ Nathan, D. L. “A Hebrew Letter on the New World’s First Coins?” The Shekel. Vol. XXXIX, No. 1, January–February 2006, pp. 8-14. http://numismatics.org/collection/2006.13.1
  13. ^ Hoge, Robert Wilson, Current Cabinet Activities, ANS Magazine, Spring 2007. http://numismatics.org/magazine/cabinetspring07/
  14. ^ Nathan, David L. and Crafton, Donald. “The Making and Remaking of Gertie.” Animation, March 2013 vol. 8 no. 1, pp. 23-46. http://anm.sagepub.com/content/8/1/23.abstract
  15. ^ Annecy Film Festival website. https://www.annecy.org/programme/index:rdv-200001501093
  16. ^ Nathan, David. “When It All Began: Research sparks quest to find Princeton’s Unknown Player.” Princeton Alumni Weekly. October 22, 2014. p. 15. https://paw.princeton.edu/article/extra-point-when-it-all-began-research-sparks-quest-find-princetons-unknown-player
  17. ^ Nathan, David. “Biographies of Princeton's First Football Players.” Princeton Alumni Weekly. October 22, 2014.https://paw.princeton.edu/article/biographies-princetons-first-football-players
  18. ^ DataSpace at Princeton University. http://dataspace.princeton.edu/jspui/handle/88435/dsp01r781wg30c
  19. ^ Leonard, Robert D., Jr. “History of the Ben and Sylvia Odesser Award,” The Shekel, Vol. XLIII, No. 1., Jan.-Feb. 2010.
  20. ^ “Psychiatrist David L. Nathan Named Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association.“ http://www.princetonwellbeing.com/polpressreleases.cfm?doctype_code=Health%20Press&doc_id=11743