No Accepted Medical Use? Three Perspectives on Medical Cannabis (Reason.tv)

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The U.S. government classifies marijuana—along with heroin and LSD—as a Schedule I drug, the most tightly restricted category of drugs in the United States. According to the federal government, Schedule I drugs are unsafe and have “no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.”

Really?

As medical marijuana proponents have pointed out since the Controlled Substances Act was passed by Congress in 1970, cannabis has been used medicinally for thousands of years, and there has never been a reported case of a marijuana overdose. Moreover, in recent years clinical researchers around the world have demonstrated the medicinal value of cannabis.

We talked to a doctor, a pharmacist, and a patient to get three firsthand perspectives on medical cannabis. Special thanks to Dr. Donald Abrams, JoAnna LaForce and Don Grubbs.

Approximately 10 minutes. Produced by Paul Feine and Alex Manning.

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Over 2,500 Subjects Since 1995 Have Used Marijuana-Based Medicines In Controlled Clinical Trials

[Via NORML – editor’s note: This post is excerpted from this week’s forthcoming NORML weekly media advisory. To have NORML’s media advisories delivered straight to your in-box, sign up for NORML’s free e-zine here.]

Researchers worldwide have performed 37 separate clinical trials assessing the therapeutic safety and efficacy of inhaled cannabis and marijuana-based medicines since 2005, according to a review published online last week in the journal Cannabinoids: The Journal of the International Association for Cannabinoid Medicines (IACM).
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UC studies find promise in medical marijuana

As an $8.7-million state research effort comes to an end, investigators report that cannabis can significantly relieve neuropathic pain and reduce muscle spasms in MS patients.

More research is urged.

Read the Report Here

(Source Los Angeles Times 2.18.10)  With an innovative but little-known state program to study medical marijuana about to run out of money, researchers and political supporters said Wednesday the results show promise.

“It should take all the mystery out of whether it works. We’ve got the results,” said former state Sen. John Vasconcellos, who led the effort to create the 10-year-old Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research.

The center has nearly spent its $8.7-million allocation, sponsoring 14 studies at UC campuses, including the first clinical trials of smoked marijuana in the United States in more than two decades.

Much of the research is still underway or under review, but five studies have been published in scientific journals. Four showed that cannabis can significantly relieve neuropathic pain and one found that vaporizers are an effective way to use marijuana. Another study, submitted for publication, found that marijuana can reduce muscle spasms in multiple sclerosis patients.

Dr. Igor Grant, a neuropsychiatrist at UC San Diego who is the center’s director, called the pain studies “pretty convincing” and urged the federal government to pay for additional clinical studies.

With the state stuck in a daunting budget crisis, even the center’s advocates do not expect more support. “There is no state money at this time, unfortunately,” said state Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco).

Since the center opened in 2000, medical marijuana use has spread rapidly in California, driven largely by doctors’ willingness to recommend it for a wide range of ailments. But little research has been done on its effectiveness, in part because researchers must win approval from federal agencies, including the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Grant said federal officials did not try to thwart the research, but noted that approval typically took 18 months. “We basically did a lot of the work for investigators in terms of jumping through the hoops,” he said.

The unusual scientific program, approved by the Legislature in 1999, was the result of negotiations between Vasconcellos and former Atty. Gen. Dan Lungren. The two were vigorous adversaries in the contentious debate over the 1996 initiative that approved the use of medical marijuana.

Lungren, now a Republican congressman from Gold River, argued that Californians were moving ahead without the research needed to show whether marijuana was useful as a medicine. “I said at that time, if we had scientific evidence, we ought to be guided by scientific evidence,” he said.

“I was shrewd enough to pick up on Lungren’s ‘Let’s do research,’ ” Vasconcellos said. Lungren said he was shrewd enough to accept.

Lungren said the results are helpful, but underscore that medical marijuana should be more tightly controlled and used only where it has been proven effective.

The center funded a range of research, including six studies of whether marijuana reduces neuropathic pain, which is caused by a damaged or abnormally functioning nervous system. A UC San Francisco study of patients with HIV-related pain found that 52% of those who smoked marijuana experienced significant relief.

“I think that clearly cannabis has benefits,” said Dr. Donald I. Abrams, a San Francisco oncologist who led that study. “This substance has been a medicine for 2,700 years; it only hasn’t been a medicine for 70.”

Abrams doubts that the research will alter the debate over marijuana. “Science has not been driving this train for a long time now. I think it’s all politics,” he said.

Grant was more optimistic: “We have a different administration, and they are looking at the science basis of many things.”

He said the research shows marijuana should no longer be classified as a Schedule I drug. “It is not a drug without value,” he said.

john.hoeffel@latimes.com

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Research shows pot can ease muscle spasms

More new research:  The first U.S. clinical trials in more than two decades on the medical benefits of marijuana confirm pot is effective in reducing muscle spasms associated with multiple sclerosis and pain caused by certain neurological injuries or illnesses, according to a report issued Wednesday.

Igor Grant, a psychiatrist who directs the Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research at the University of California, San Diego, said the five studies funded by the state involved volunteers who were randomly given real marijuana or placebos to determine if the herb provided relief not seen from traditional medicines.

“There is good evidence now that cannabinoids may be either an adjunct or a first-line treatment,” Grant said at a news conference where he presented the findings.

The California Legislature established the research center in 2000 to examine whether the therapeutic claims of medical marijuana advocates could withstand scientific scrutiny. In 1996, state voters became the first in the nation to pass a law approving pot use for medical purposes.

Thirteen other states have followed suit, but California is the only one so far to sponsor medical marijuana research. After 10 years and nearly $9 million, the Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research is preparing to wrap up its work next year.

Along with the studies on muscle spasms and pain associated with spinal cord injuries and AIDS, the center also has funded research on how marijuana effects sleep and driving, limb pain due to diabetes, and whether inhaling vaporized cannabis is as effective as smoking it.

A laboratory study supported by the center examined if pot could be helpful in treating migraine headaches and facial pain. In that study, rats given a cannabis-like drug exhibited reduced activity of nerve cells that transmit pain.

State Sen. Mark Leno, a San Francisco Democrat who chairs a budget subcommittee on health and human services and supports medical marijuana, said he doubted there would be more financial support for the center given California’s ongoing budget crisis.

The federal government classifies marijuana as an illicit drug with no medical use but produces the only pot legally available for scientific research under a contract with the University of Mississippi.

Grant said obtaining some of the Mississippi crop and meeting the complex security regulations required by the Drug Enforcement Agency and other federal agencies was time-consuming and cumbersome.

Grant, however, had no problem with the quality of the government’s supply. Its consistency was helpful in determining that patients who smoked less-potent marijuana enjoyed the same amount of pain relief but less mental confusion than those who inhaled a more powerful strain, he said.

Such quality control is notably absent from the marijuana that patients with a doctor’s recommendation can legally obtain in California through hundreds of cooperatives and storefront dispensaries, Grant said.

He said more research was needed on how pot works and its side effects.

“Because we don’t know the composition of the strains that are on the street, we don’t know what patients really are getting,” he said. “As a doctor I feel some discomfort when someone says take X or Y pill or herb because we think that might be helpful.”  (Source: AP)

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Cannabis Beneficial for Multiple Sclerosis Patients, Study Finds

(NaturalNews) A systematic review conducted by The Global Neuroscience Initiative Foundation found that five of six controlled trials reported a reduction in spasticity and an improvement in mobility amongst multiple sclerosis patients using cannabis extracts.

The two researchers, Shaheen Lakhan and Marie Rowland from the Los Angeles-based foundation, searched for trials evaluating cannabis extracts. Specifically, they were looking for extracts known as delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). Their study was published in the December 2009 issue of BMC Neurology.1

What they were trying to correlate was the benefits of these two extracts for treating one of multiple sclerosis’ most hard to treat symptoms: spasticity. Spasticity is the involuntary tension or contraction of muscles and is one of the most common and tell-tale symptoms of MS. Most of the current therapies and medications for this symptom are hard to obtain, have a poor track record, or come with intolerable side effects.

Of course, the introduction of THC and CBD into patient groups came with some side effects, most notably intoxication. The level depended on the treatment dose and, interestingly, was also reported in the placebo groups of the studies as well.

The studies considered included those only with THC and CBD combinations used for the therapies and only for the specific treatment of spasticity in MS patients.

Each study had varying outcomes, but the overall trend between them showed a reduced spasticity in treated patients and an improvement in general symptom reduction. The adverse events reported with these studies were generally considered well-tolerated by the patient and relatively mild.

The medical benefits of cannabis have been long known to various people around the world, but only recently have been accepted by modern science. The American College of Physicians only just endorsed medical marijuana in 20082 and the use of hemp, a member of the cannabis family, for health has been a staple of the natural health movement.3

This latest study from the Global Neuroscience Initiative Foundation shows that the benefits of using cannabis in multiple sclerosis therapies far outweigh the light side effects they have. In many areas, sufferers from MS have often turned to marijuana to relieve their symptoms, usually without a doctor’s knowledge or consent.

On some fronts, most notably the acceptance of medical marijuana and cannabis extract treatments, the main stream medical establishment seems to be finally coming around.

Resources:
1 – Whole plant cannabis extracts in the treatment of spasticity in multiple sclerosis: a systematic review, Shaheen El Lakhan and Marie Rowland, BMC Neurology, December 2009

2 – American College of Physicians Endorses Medical Marijuana, by Adam Miller, NaturalNews.com

3 – Hemp FAQ, by Mike Adams, NaturalNews.com

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Handicapped Man’s Wheelchair Seized Over Medical Marijuana

Nyle Nagy, a man with full body paralysis and Multiple Sclerosis, was robbed of his wheelchair by his caregiver and confined to bed for legally using medical marijuana.

(Source: Cannabis Culture) – A Canadian care home resident with full body paralysis was confined to his bed against his will after his wheelchair was seized by caregivers – all because he smokes medical marijuana to relieve his Multiple Sclerosis.

CHBC news reported yesterday that Nyle Nagy, a Kelowna, British Columbia man who lives at the Brookhaven care home, was forcefully removed from his wheelchair and put in bed for a week after manager Adrien Vaughan objected to his legal use of medical marijuana.

“She sent two men over here to take my wheelchair and tell me that I’ve got to stay in this chair for seven days, as a punishment”, Nagy told the TV crew.

To get rid of my pain and my spasms, that’s the only two reasons I smoke it” said Nagy, who has a license from the Canadian government to smoke marijuana.

The news comes in the wake of a similar abuse case in Vancouver where a diabetic, double-amputee woman died after being evicted for legally smoking medical marijuana.

Watch the video from CHBC.

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