Updated NORML Report Reviews Nearly 200 Studies On The Therapeutic Use Of Cannabis

Cannabis female flowers closeup with trichomes...

“As we continue to sort through the emerging science of cannabis and cannabinoids, one thing remains clear: a functional cannabinoid system is essential for health.”

NORML has recently posted online the fourth edition of its popular and comprehensive booklet, “Emerging Clinical Applications for Cannabis & Cannabinoids: A Review of the Recent Scientific Literature.”

Updated and revised for 2011, this report reviews approximately 200 newly published scientific studies assessing the safety and efficacy of marijuana and its compounds in the treatment and management of nineteen clinical indications: Alzheimer’s disease, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), chronic pain, diabetes mellitus, dystonia, fibromyalgia, gastrointestinal disorders, gliomas and other cancers, hepatitis C, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), hypertension, incontinence, methicillin-resistant Staphyloccus aureus (MRSA), multiple sclerosis, osteoporosis, pruritus, rheumatoid arthritis, sleep apnea, and Tourette’s syndrome.

Explains the report’s lead author, NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano: “The conditions profiled in this report were chosen because patients frequently inquire about the therapeutic use of cannabis to treat these disorders. In addition, many of the indications included in this report may be moderated by cannabis therapy. In several cases, preclinical data and clinical indicates that cannabinoids may halt the progression of these diseases in a more efficacious manner than available pharmaceuticals.

The updated report also features a new section, authored by osteopath and medical cannabis specialist Dr. Dustin Sulak, highlighting the significance of the endocannabinoid system and its role in maintaining mental and physiological health.


Illustration from the Vienna Dioscurides

Beyond treating symptoms, beyond even curing disease, can cannabis help us prevent disease and promote health by stimulating an ancient system that is hard-wired into all of us? I now believe the answer is yes.”

“As we continue to sort through the emerging science of cannabis and cannabinoids, one thing remains clear: a functional cannabinoid system is essential for health,” writes Dr. Sulak. “From embryonic implantation on the wall of our mother’s uterus, to nursing and growth, to responding to injuries, endocannabinoids help us survive in a quickly changing and increasingly hostile environment. As I realized this, I began to wonder: can an individual enhance his/her cannabinoid system by taking supplemental cannabis? Beyond treating symptoms, beyond even curing disease, can cannabis help us prevent disease and promote health by stimulating an ancient system that is hard-wired into all of us? I now believe the answer is yes.

Full text of the report is now available online here. Hard copies will be available for purchase shortly. Print copies of the third edition of this report will be made available at a reduced rate for those seeking bulk orders. (Please e-mail NORML for further details.)

Read the original article on the NORML blog.

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.



New study: Marijuana is useful treatment for some pain related medical maladies

Research project is first of its kind in 20 years


Read the full study

Scientific evidence exists that medical marijuana is a promising treatment for some specific pain related medical conditions, researchers from the University of California’s Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research said Wednesday.

State funded studies conducted over the past decade have found marijuana could be effective by itself or in combination with other drugs for conditions such as nerve pain associated with HIV and muscle spasms associated with multiple sclerosis.

“This study confirms all of the anecdotal evidence” of suffering eased by marijuana, said state Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco.

Leno was accompanied at his state capital news conference by former state Sen. John Vasconcellos, D-Santa Clara, who authored the legislation commissioning this $8.7 million worth of research in the wake of the 1996 passage of Proposition 215 legalizing marijuana for medical purposes.

The study did not include many other medical conditions for which marijuana is currently prescribed because the researchers were restricted by funding and legal issues accessing patients.  (Source)

… another report on the study:
Marijuana’s benefits for treating pain subject of UCSD report
Researchers at the University of California’s San Diego-based Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research presented a report to the state Legislature Wednesday that concludes marijuana has a therapeutic value in treating pain.

Following five clinical trials, the researchers found there is “reasonable evidence that cannabis is a promising treatment” for some specific, pain-related medical conditions.

“We focused on illnesses where current medical treatment does not provide adequate relief or coverage of symptoms” said Dr. Igor Grant, the center’s director and executive vice chair of UCSD’s Department of Psychiatry.

“These findings provide a strong, science-based context in which policymakers and the public can begin discussing the place of cannabis in medical care,” Grant said.

The studies showed that cannabis can be helpful in easing pain in selected syndromes caused by injury or diseases of the nervous system and possibly for painful muscle spasms due to multiple sclerosis.

The center was established in 2000 to conduct clinical and pre-clinical trials of cannabinoids in an effort to answer the question “does marijuana have therapeutic value?”

With the passage of Proposition 215 in 1996, it became legal in California for seriously ill patients under the supervision of a physician to obtain and use marijuana for medical purposes.

This story was written and edited by City News Service staff.

See Also Science Daily: Studies Show Marijuana Has Therapeutic Value, Research Reported to Legislature