Research Supports Medicinal Marijuana

Research Supports Medicinal Marijuana
Posted by CN Staff on February 12, 2007 at 21:20:12 PT
By Rick Weiss, Washington Post Staff Writer
Source: Washington Post
Washington, DC -- AIDS patients suffering from debilitating nerve pain got as much or more relief by smoking marijuana as they would typically get from prescription drugs -- and with fewer side effects -- according to a study conducted under rigorously controlled conditions with government-grown pot.In a five-day study performed in a specially ventilated hospital ward where patients smoked three marijuana cigarettes a day, more than half the participants tallied significant reductions in pain.
By contrast, less than one-quarter of those who smoked "placebo" pot, which had its primary psychoactive ingredients removed, reported benefits, as measured by subjective pain reports and standardized neurological tests.The White House belittled the study as "a smoke screen," short on proof of efficacy and flawed because it did not consider the health impacts of inhaling smoke.But other doctors and advocates of marijuana policy reform said the findings, in today's issue of the journal Neurology, offer powerful evidence that the Drug Enforcement Administration's classification of cannabis as having "no currently accepted medical use" is outdated."This should be a wake-up call for Congress to hold hearings to investigate the therapeutic use of cannabis and to encourage more research," said Barbara T. Roberts, a former interim associate deputy director in the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, now with Americans for Safe Access, which promotes access to marijuana for therapies and research.Countless anecdotal reports have suggested that smoking marijuana can help relieve the pain, nausea and muscular spasticity that often accompany cancer, AIDS, multiple sclerosis and other ailments. But few well-controlled studies have been conducted.The new study enrolled 50 AIDS patients with severe foot pain caused by their disease or by the medicines they take.The team first measured baseline pain, both subjectively (patients ranked their pain on a scale of 1 to 100) and with two standardized tests, one involving a small hot iron held to the skin and another involving hot chili pepper cream.Then, for five days, patients lit up at 8 a.m., 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. using a calibrated puff method that calls for inhaling for five seconds, holding one's breath for 10, then waiting 45 seconds before the next.The cigarettes were kept frozen and locked in a safe, then thawed and humidified one day before use. Cigarette butts and other debris were collected, weighed and returned to the safe to ensure no diversion for recreational purposes.Grown on the government's official pot farm in Mississippi, the drug was about one-quarter the potency of quality street marijuana. The inactive version was chemically cleansed of cannabinoids, the drug's main active ingredients."It smelled like and looked like" normal marijuana, said study leader Donald I. Abrams, a physician at San Francisco General Hospital, where the smoking ward was located. Like the patients, Abrams was not told who had the active pot until the study was over.Thirteen of 25 patients who smoked the regular marijuana achieved pain reduction of at least 30 percent, compared with six of 25 who smoked placebo pot. The average pain reduction for the real cannabis was 34 percent, compared with17 percent for the placebo.Opioids and other pills can reduce nerve pain by 20 to 30 percent but can cause drowsiness and confusion, Abrams said. And many patients complain that a prescription version of pot's main ingredient in pill form does not work for them.That was true for Diana Dodson, 50, who received an AIDS diagnosis in 1997 after a blood transfusion."I have so many layers of pain I can hardly walk," said Dodson, who was in the new study. Prescription drugs made her feel worse. "But inhaled cannabis works," she said.Patients in the study -- all of whom had smoked pot previously -- reported no notable side effects, though the researchers acknowledged that people unfamiliar with the drug may not fare as well.Igor Grant, director of the University of California Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research, which funded the research, said the study was probably the best-designed U.S. test of marijuana's medical potential in decades. He called the results "highly believable."But David Murray, chief scientist at the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, called the findings "not particularly persuasive." The study was relatively small, he said, and it is likely that those who received the real pot were aware of that, introducing a bias of expected efficacy."We're very much supportive of any effort to ameliorate the suffering of AIDS patients," Murray said. But even if ingredients in marijuana prove useful, he added, they ought to be synthesized in a pill to make dosing more accurate and to minimize lung damage.Separately, ending a six-year effort, a Massachusetts group learned yesterday that it had won a legal victory against the DEA in its battle for federal permission to grow its own cannabis for federally approved studies, instead of relying on government pot.In an 87-page opinion, administrative law judge Mary Ellen Bittner ruled that it "would be in the public interest" to allow a University of Massachusetts researcher to cultivate marijuana under contract to the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), which sponsors medical research on marijuana and other drugs.The DEA is not obligated to follow the advice of its law judges, but the detailed decision should make it difficult for the agency to balk, said MAPS President Rick Doblin.Note: AIDS Patients in Controlled Study Had Significant Pain Relief.Source: Washington Post (DC)Author: Rick Weiss, Washington Post Staff WriterPublished: Tuesday, February 13, 2007; A14Copyright: 2007 Washington Post Contact: letterstoed washpost.comWebsite: Related Articles & Web Sites:MAPS Americans For Safe Access Judge: Let Prof Grow Medicinal Marijuana Unprecedented SF Study Finds Pot Helps Ease Pain Eases Pain in HIV Patients: Study
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Comment #8 posted by Hope on February 16, 2007 at 08:12:36 PT
This ruling has the tinge of sanity about it. Thank God and all those who were willing to work so hard to reach this very important goal.
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Comment #7 posted by ekim on February 13, 2007 at 08:00:11 PT
Dennis Kucinich 
is on the Diane Rehm show on NPR if anyone can call or write a email and ask the Congressman what can be done about the cannabis laws and supply1-800-433-8850drshow 
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Comment #6 posted by paul armentano on February 13, 2007 at 07:18:19 PT
Powerful Quote from Judge Bittner's Ruling!
DEA Administrative Law Judge Rules Against US Government’s Monopoly 
On Pot ProductionWashington, DC: Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Administrative Law Judge Mary Ellen Bittner ruled Monday that the private production of cannabis for research purposes is “in the public interest.” Her ruling affirms that the DEA in 2004 improperly rejected an application from the University of Massachusetts (UMass) at Amherst to manufacture cannabis for FDA-approved research.Bittner opined: "I conclude that granting Respondent's application would not be inconsistent with the Single Convention, that there would be minimal risk of diversion of marijuana resulting from Respondent's registration, that there is currently an inadequate supply of marijuana available for research purposes, that competition in the provision of marijuana for such purposes is inadequate, and that Respondent has complied with applicable laws and has never been convicted of any violation of any law pertaining to controlled substances. I therefore find that Respondent's registration to cultivate marijuana would be in the public interest."Currently, all federally approved research on marijuana must utilize cannabis supplied by and grown under contract with the US National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). The UMass-Amherst proposal sought to provide clinical investigators with an alternative, independent source of cannabis for FDA-approved clinical trials.NORML Executive Director Allen St. Pierre praised the decision. “Judge Bittner’s ruling is an important first step toward breaking the US government’s long-standing monopoly regarding the cultivation of research-grade cannabis. Clinical investigators and drug development researchers who no longer wish to conduct trials using NIDA’s inferior strains of cannabis may one day have access to other, legal alternatives.”In recent years, several US researchers have criticized NIDA's unwillingness to provide cannabis for clinical protocols seeking to investigate the drug's medical uses. In 2004, the agency's director Nora Volkow stated that it is "not NIDA's mission to study the medical uses of marijuana."NORML Board Member Rick Doblin – Executive Director of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) – one of the respondents in the case, said: “This is a major step to getting us to do the scientific research that the government has been blocking for the past 30 years. If the government says no [to the judge’s ruling,] the hypocrisy of their approach will help fuel efforts for [additional] state medical marijuana reforms.” The DEA has 20 days to challenge Judge Bittner’s decision. The decision then goes before DEA Deputy Administrator Michele Leonhart, who can still elect to set aside the ruling. A spokesman for the agency told the Associated Press that they are reviewing the opinion.For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director, or Paul Armentano, Senior Policy Analyst, at (202) 483-5500. Text of Judge Bittner’s ruling is available online at: Additional information is available on today’s edition of NORML’s daily AudioStash at:
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Comment #5 posted by E_Johnson on February 13, 2007 at 06:34:18 PT
Even federal schwag works as medicine
This is an amazing plant. Even the federal government can't ruin it.
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Comment #4 posted by MikeEEEEE on February 13, 2007 at 06:02:29 PT
Mexico wants to partially decriminalize drugs 
Here is the link:;_ylt=Av7ywyU5zCtc6dhsM30gl35g.3QA
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Comment #3 posted by BGreen on February 13, 2007 at 05:41:04 PT
Hey Toke, I didn't know you spoke French. LOLHey, thanks for asking about me in another post. My internet went out before I could answer you but I'm here lurking every day. I just haven't been very talkative.The Reverend Bud Green
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Comment #2 posted by Toker00 on February 13, 2007 at 03:47:15 PT
Ammunition. Ammunition.
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Comment #1 posted by Toker00 on February 13, 2007 at 03:44:42 PT
This is beautiful ammunicion for
KUCINICH. Let 'er rip, Dennis!Toke.
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