The ACP statement reads “ACP encourages the use of non-smoked forms of THC (the main psychoactive element in marijuana) that have proven therapeutic value.”
The problem is that the government discourages research on marijuana for medical use according to the ACP, making it difficult to provide evidence of successful effectiveness.
Susan Brady, the editor of The World Is a Kitchen, is a woman with a passion for food. When not living the life of a typical suburban soccer mom, she spends long hours in the kitchen testing recipes from around the world, and travels to faraway places to learn new cuisines.Subscribe to Susan Brady's column using RSS
By Susan Brady
Published: Monday, 30 August 2010
Marijuana has been a controversial drug for most of the twentieth century and into today’s limelight. From the 1936 propaganda film Reefer Madness to the hippie culture of 1960s Haight-Ashbury to the present debate over medicinal uses for cannabis, there has always been a vocal group on both sides of the fence. Until there is undeniable proof that marijuana can be beneficial, just like other regulated prescription drugs, the debate will continue.
There are places in the United States that have medicinal marijuana laws in place without overwhelming hard evidence. California was the first state to pass a medicinal marijuana law (Proposition 15, 1996), one that was subsequently duplicated by more than a dozen other states. The Compassionate Use Act allowed patients with an authorized doctor’s recommendation to contact a dispensary that grows and distributes marijuana to obtain the amount prescribed by the medical professional for treatment of an illness or condition. In 2009 the Obama Administration and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder vowed to respect these states’ rights and ordered that Drug Enforcement Agency raids cease. But it isn’t enough, not yet.
The American College of Physicians (ACP) has said that additional research is needed to clarify the therapeutic effects of marijuana and determine standard doses and the method of delivery. One active ingredient has been isolated from marijuana by the drug industry and has been proven as an effective painkiller. The ACP statement reads “ACP encourages the use of non-smoked forms of THC (the main psychoactive element in marijuana) that have proven therapeutic value.”
The problem is that the government discourages research on marijuana for medical use according to the ACP, making it difficult to provide evidence of successful effectiveness. What little cannabis research that has been done has focused on treating severe weight loss associated with AIDS and eating disorders and for relieving the nausea and vomiting which accompany chemotherapy in cancer patients. Now a new but very small study out of McGill University in Montreal is showing that marijuana may help with chronic nerve pain, for which there is little treatment.
Published in the recent edition of the Canadian Medical Association Journal, researchers studied the use of inhaled marijuana on patients with severe neuropathic pain. They used three THC potencies (2.5%, 6% and 9.4%) as well as a placebo in the trial, with all use being supervised by a nurse. The study participants inhaled a single 25mg dose through a pipe three times a day for five days followed by nine days off, for four cycles.
The highest dose yielded the best results in pain relief, but also lessened anxiety, depression and helped to improve sleep. Study leader Dr Mark Ware said, "To our knowledge, this is the first outpatient clinical trial of smoked cannabis ever reported." While that is a shocking statement, given the years that marijuana has been available for clinical trials, government regulations make it difficult to proceed with cannabis studies.
For future studies, Dr Ware suggested that clinical trials using inhaler-type devices for delivering measured amounts of cannabis should be carried out, as well as those that offer oral delivery methods, which are more appropriate for older patients or those unwilling to use inhaler delivery methods. Additional research will help lift the veil of secrecy that many live under while using medicinal marijuana for chronic and life-threatening conditions and could prove, one and for all, that medical marijuana isn’t just a smokescreen.