Scientific Research Supports Medical Cannabis

May 19, 2008

Between 1840 and 1900, European and American medical journals published more than 100 articles on the therapeutic use of the drug known then as Cannabis Indica (or Indian hemp) and now simply as cannabis. Today, new studies are being published in peer-reviewed journals that demonstrate cannabis has medical value in treating patients with serious illnesses such as AIDS, glaucoma, cancer, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, and chronic pain.

The safety of the drug has been attested to by numerous studies and reports, including the LaGuardia Report of 1944, The Schafer Commission Report of 1972, a 1997 study conducted by the British House of Lords, the Institutes of Medicine report of 1999, research sponsored by Health Canada, and numerous studies conducted in the Netherlands, where cannabis has been quasi-legal since 1976 and is currently available from pharmacies by prescription.

Recent published research on CD4 immunity in AIDS patients found no compromise to the immune systems of patients undergoing cannabis therapy in clinical trials.

The use of medical cannabis has been endorsed by numerous professional organizations, including the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Public Health Association, and the American Nurses Association. Its use is supported by such leading medical publications as The New England Journal of Medicine and The Lancet.

While research has until recently been sharply limited by federal prohibition, the last few years have seen rapid change. The International Cannabinoid Research Society was formally incorporated as a scientific research organization in 1991. Membership in the Society has more than tripled from about 50 members in the first year to over 300 in 2005.

The International Association for Cannabis as Medicine (IACM) was founded in March 2000. It publishes a bi-weekly newsletter and the IACM-Bulletin, and holds a bi-annual symposium to highlight emerging research in cannabis therapeutics.

The University of California established the Center for Medicinal Cannabis Studies in 2001. It currently has 14 studies in progress and four others awaiting state and federal approval, including studies of cancer pain, nausea control in chemotherapy, general analgesia and a proposed study on refractory cancer pain.

In the United Kingdom, GW Pharmaceuticals has been granted a clinical trial exemption certificate by the Medicines Control Agency to conduct clinical studies with cannabis-based medicines. The exemption includes investigations in the relief of pain of neurological origin and defects of neurological function in the following indications: multiple sclerosis (MS), spinal cord injury, peripheral nerve injury, central nervous system damage, neuroinvasive cancer, dystonias, cerebral vascular accident and spina bifida, as well as for the relief of pain and inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis and also pain relief in brachial plexus injury.

GW has completed Phase III studies in patients with MS neuropathic pain, spasticity, and bladder dysfunction. Phase II trials on perioperative pain, rheumatoid arthritis, peripheral neuropathy secondary to diabetes mellitus or AIDS, and patients with neurogenic symptoms.

In 2002, GW conducted five Phase III trials of its cannabis derivatives, including a number of double-blind, placebo-controlled trials with a sublingual spray containing a combination of THC:CBD in more than 600 patients with MS. In total, more than 1,000 patients are currently involved in phase III trials in the UK. All of GWs MS trials have provided positive results, and confirmed an excellent safety profile for cannabis-based medicines.

In 2002 GW Pharmaceuticals received an IND approval to commence phase II clinical trials in Canada in patients with chronic pain, multiple sclerosis and spinal cord injury, and in April 2005 GW received regulatory approval for Sativex in Canada for the relief of neuropathic pain in adults with Multiple Sclerosis. Following meetings with the FDA, DEA, the Office for National Drug Control Policy, and the National Institute for Drug Abuse, GW was granted an import license from the DEA and has imported its first cannabis extracts into the U.S., and in January of 2006 was granted permission to begin Phase III Clinical Trials into cancer pain.

References http://www.safeaccessnow.org/

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