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  1. chillinwill
    After California became the first state to allow medical use of marijuana, legislators decided in 1999 to fund research that was supposed figure out what the drug was good for therapeutically. Now we have an answer: a report issued today says it seems to ease some types of pain, and maybe muscle spasticity from multiple sclerosis.

    Of course, lots of state residents have found their own, much more varied, answers, since California’s law is one of the most open-ended about who’s eligible for medical marijuana. Anyone who can get a doctor to write a recommendation, based on just about any medical condition, can buy marijuana in California. But this is the official report from the Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research, based at the University of California, San Diego.

    Since its 2000 founding, the center has funded 15 clinical studies, including seven trials. The results include some fodder for medical-marijuana supporters who argue for the drug’s unique importance, particularly the finding that it worked as an add-on to more standard treatments for pain stemming from nerve damage.

    The report argues marijuana may have a “novel mechanism of action not fully exploited by current therapies.” The drug may also have an effect on multiple-sclerosis patients’ spastic motions “beyond the benefit available from usual medical care,” the report says. Other research hasn’t shown this effect consistently.

    The report also flags some mild side effects, including dizziness and, ahem, “changes in cognition.” Marijuana opponents will probably say that the studies weren’t long-term enough to show the potential downsides of chronic use.

    The center has made these findings public before — they can be found on the center’s Web site. Still, the report is important because it pulls together the results in a document that is supposed to reach the general public.

    And now that 13 other states have followed California in adopting medical marijuana laws, the research is likely to play a role as the Golden State once again tries to take the lead in marijuana policy: a California ballot measure that would attempt to legalize the drug’s use by adults 21 and older is likely to come to a vote later this year.

    The WSJ took a recent look at marijuana research here.

    By Anna Wilde Mathews
    February 17, 2010
    Wall Street Journal


  1. chillinwill
    Studies Show Marijuana Has Therapeutic Value, Research Reported to Legislature

    Researchers from the University of California's Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research (CMCR) have found "reasonable evidence that cannabis is a promising treatment" for some specific, pain-related medical conditions. Their findings, presented February 17 to the California legislature and public, are included in a report available on the CMCR web site.

    "We focused on illnesses where current medical treatment does not provide adequate relief or coverage of symptoms," explained CMCR director, Igor Grant, MD, Executive Vice-Chair of the Department of Psychiatry at the UCSD School of Medicine. "These findings provide a strong, science-based context in which policy makers and the public can begin discussing the place of cannabis in medical care."

    Researchers have completed five scientific clinical trials, with more in progress. These 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.

    "These scientists created an unparalleled program of systematic research, focused on science-based answers rather than political or social beliefs," said Senator John Vasconcellos, original author of The Medical Marijuana Research Act of 1999 (SB847) which led to the creation of the CMCR.

    Study results have been published in high-impact medical journals, garnering national and international attention which prompted leading experts to come together and foster scientific dialog on the possible uses of cannabis as a therapeutic agent. More study will be necessary to figure out the mechanisms of action and the full therapeutic potential of cannabinoid compounds, according to the UC researchers.

    Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research: Report to the California Legislature (2010)(PDF)

    February 17, 2010
    Science Daily
  2. chillinwill
    ‘Gold Standard’ Studies Show That Inhaled Marijuana Is Medically Safe And Effective

    The results of a series of randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trials assessing the efficacy of inhaled marijuana consistently show that cannabis holds therapeutic value comparable to conventional medications, according to the findings of a 24-page report issued earlier today to the California state legislature by the California Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research (CMCR).

    Four of the five placebo-controlled trials demonstrated that marijuana significantly alleviated neuropathy, a difficult to treat type of pain resulting from nerve damage.

    “There is good evidence now that cannabinoids (the active compounds in the marijuana plant) may be either an adjunct or a first-line treatment for … neuropathy,” said Dr. Igor Grant, Director of the CMCR, at a news conference at the state Capitol. He added that the efficacy of smoked marijuana was “very consistent,” and that its pain-relieving effects were “comparable to the better existing treatments” presently available by prescription.

    A fifth study showed that smoked cannabis reduced the spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis. A separate study conducted by the CMCR established that the vaporization of cannabis – a process that heats the substance to a temperature where active cannabinoid vapors form, but below the point of combustion – is a “safe and effective” delivery mode for patients who desire the rapid onset of action associated with inhalation while avoiding the respiratory risks of smoking.

    Two additional clinical trials remain ongoing.

    The CMCR program was founded in 2000 following an $8.7 million appropriation from the California state legislature. The studies are some of the first placebo-controlled clinical trials to assess the safety and efficacy of inhaled cannabis as a medicine to take place in over two decades.

    Placebo-controlled clinical crossover trials are considered to be the ‘gold standard’ method for assessing the efficacy of drugs under the US FDA-approval process.

    “These scientists created an unparalleled program of systematic research, focused on science-based answers rather than political or social beliefs,” said former California Senator John Vasconcellos, who sponsored the legislation in 1999 to launch the CMCR. Vasconcellos called the studies’ design “state of art,” and suggested that the CMCR’s findings “ought to settle the issue” of whether or not medical marijuana is a safe and effective medical treatment for patients.

    “This (report) confirms all of the anecdotal evidence – how lives have been saved and pain has been eased,” said California Democrat Senator Mark Leno at the press conference. “Now we have the science to prove it.”

    Full text of the CMCR’s report to the California legislature is available at online at: http://www.cmcr.ucsd.edu/CMCR_REPORT_FEB17.pdf.

    By: Paul Armentano
    February 17, 2010
    NORML Blog
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