New Medical Uses Found for Marijuana

September 18, 2008

Massachusetts — The mounting uses of medicinal marijuana got higher after researchers found compounds in marijuana can combat certain strands of bacteria. Despite these findings, many government organizations still prohibit the use of marijuana in research.

A recent study by Italian and U.K. scientists, which will be published in the Sept. Journal of Natural Products shows that cannabinoids, compounds found in marijuana, could be a potential answer to drug resistant strains of bacteria.

Researchers isolated five cannabinoids and tested them for their effectiveness against the bacteria present in drug resistant staph infections, like methicillin-resistant Staphyloccocus aurera, the bacteria responsible for difficult to treat staph infections. All five cannabinoids and synthetic cannabinoids proved successful against the bacteria, according to the study.

Center for Disease Control spokeswoman Christine Pearson said there are no numbers detailing how many MRSA infections occur in the U.S., but 12 million people visit their doctors for skin infections every year.

“The most recent study said that 85 percent of MRSA outbreaks are at hospitals or other health facilities,” said Pearson.

Pearson said she could not comment on the CDC’s stance on marijuana research or the European study that found cannabinoids to be successful at fighting MRSA.

However, David Rosenbloom, director of Join Together, a Boston University School of Public Health program devoted to “responsible” drug and alcohol policy, said he was not surprised by the effectiveness of cannabinoids on MRSA because a number of beneficial medicines come from plants.

Rosenbloom said the politics of marijuana use are interfering with the growth of substantial research.

“Neither the pro or con forces want reliable resources because they’re both convinced that their side is right,” Rosenbloom said.

Marijuana Policy Project spokesman Bruce Mirken said it is even difficult for researchers to get permission to use marijuana in their research.

“Unfortunately, in the U.S. medicinal marijuana has become a political problem,” Mirken said. “The federal government is deeply invested in demonizing marijuana and seems to be only paying lip service to any scientists that want to do serious research.”

The University of Mississippi is currently the only university in the U.S. allowed to grow marijuana for research. Any scientists who want to do research with marijuana must apply to the DEA for approval, Mirken said.

University of Massachusetts-Amherst researcher and professor Lyle Craker applied to the Drug Enforcement Agency to grow marijuana for medicinal purposes in in 2001 and was denied permission in 2004. Craker said it was difficult to do real research about potential medicinal benefits of marijuana because the government is committed to telling the public that marijuana is bad.

“In my opinion, we need to explore every avenue we have to protect our health and cure illness,” Craker said.

Source: Daily Free Press

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