Seven states now have legalized marijuana for "recreation" use -- is it safe?
Seven states and the District of Columbia have adopted the most expansive laws legalizing marijuana for recreational use. Most recently, California, Massachusetts, Maine and Nevada all passed measures in November legalizing recreational marijuana. California's Prop. 64 measure allows adults 21 and older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and grow up to six plants in their homes and 18 states allowed marijuana possession and use for medical reasons (see list).
Some states like Colorado and Washington state passed bills legalizing the possession and use of marijuana, despite a federal bad that remains intact. The Federal Government at first insisted that it would pursue violations but later softened their stance. State governments in the two states said that they would stop enforcing the old laws and would soon dismiss cases that were pending in courts for marijuana passession prior to the legalization.
Attorney General Sessions is believed interested in reinstating Federal laws is states that have permitted marijuana use under their own legislature, but so far this looks very doubtful. Marijuana use is wide spread among all ages and this looks like the trend is irreversible.
In light of this, questions are being raised about the safety and health risks of smoking marijuana. But there has already been myriad studies conducted on the effects of the herb -- surprisingly stressing the health benefits. The following are some articles that have appeared on viewzone.com over the years showing that marijuana and its active ingredients do much more than get a user high.
Marijuana Cuts Lung Cancer Tumor Growth In Half, Study Shows
The active ingredient in marijuana cuts tumor growth in common lung cancer in half and significantly reduces the ability of the cancer to spread, say researchers at Harvard University who tested the chemical in both lab and mouse studies.
They say this is the first set of experiments to show that the compound, Delta-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), inhibits EGF-induced growth and migration in epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) expressing non-small cell lung cancer cell lines. Lung cancers that over-express EGFR are usually highly aggressive and resistant to chemotherapy.
THC that targets cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2 is similar in function to endocannabinoids, which are cannabinoids that are naturally produced in the body and activate these receptors. The researchers suggest that THC or other designer agents that activate these receptors might be used in a targeted fashion to treat lung cancer.
"The beauty of this study is that we are showing that a substance of abuse, if used prudently, may offer a new road to therapy against lung cancer," said Anju Preet, Ph.D., a researcher in the Division of Experimental Medicine.
Acting through cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2, endocannabinoids (as well as THC) are thought to play a role in variety of biological functions, including pain and anxiety control, and inflammation. Although a medical derivative of THC, known as Marinol, has been approved for use as an appetite stimulant for cancer patients, and a small number of U.S. states allow use of medical marijuana to treat the same side effect, few studies have shown that THC might have anti-tumor activity, Preet says. The only clinical trial testing THC as a treatment against cancer growth was a recently completed British pilot study in human glioblastoma.
In the present study, the researchers first demonstrated that two different lung cancer cell lines as well as patient lung tumor samples express CB1 and CB2, and that non-toxic doses of THC inhibited growth and spread in the cell lines. "When the cells are pretreated with THC, they have less EGFR stimulated invasion as measured by various in-vitro assays," Preet said.
Then, for three weeks, researchers injected standard doses of THC into mice that had been implanted with human lung cancer cells, and found that tumors were reduced in size and weight by about 50 percent in treated animals compared to a control group. There was also about a 60 percent reduction in cancer lesions on the lungs in these mice as well as a significant reduction in protein markers associated with cancer progression, Preet says.
Although the researchers do not know why THC inhibits tumor growth, they say the substance could be activating molecules that arrest the cell cycle. They speculate that THC may also interfere with angiogenesis and vascularization, which promotes cancer growth.
Preet says much work is needed to clarify the pathway by which THC functions, and cautions that some animal studies have shown that THC can stimulate some cancers. "THC offers some promise, but we have a long way to go before we know what its potential is," she said.
Smoked Cannabis Reduces Some Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis
Reported in ScienceDaily on May 14, 2012, a clinical study of 30 adult patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine has shown that smoked cannabis may be an effective treatment for spasticity -- a common and disabling symptom of this neurological disease.
The placebo-controlled trial also resulted in reduced perception of pain, although participants also reported short-term, adverse cognitive effects and increased fatigue. The study will be published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal on May 14.
Principal investigator Jody Corey-Bloom, MD, PhD, professor of neurosciences and director of the Multiple Sclerosis Center at UC San Diego, and colleagues randomly assigned participants to either the intervention group (which smoked cannabis once daily for three days) or the control group (which smoked identical placebo cigarettes, also once a day for three days). After an 11-day interval, the participants crossed over to the other group.
"We found that smoked cannabis was superior to placebo in reducing symptoms and pain in patients with treatment-resistant spasticity, or excessive muscle contractions," said Corey-Bloom.
Earlier reports suggested that the active compounds of medical marijuana were potentially effective in treating neurologic conditions, but most studies focused on orally administered cannabinoids. There were also anecdotal reports of MS patients that endorsed smoking marijuana to relieve symptoms of spasticity.
However, this trial used a more objective measurement, a modified Ashford scale which graded the intensity of muscle tone by measuring such things as resistance in range of motion and rigidity. The secondary outcome, pain, was measured using a visual analogue scale. The researchers also looked at physical performance (using a timed walk) and cognitive function and -- at the end of each visit -- asked patients to assess their feeling of "highness."
Although generally well tolerated, smoking cannabis did have mild effects on attention and concentration. The researchers noted that larger, long-terms studies are needed to confirm their findings and determine whether lower doses can result in beneficial effects with less cognitive impact.
The current study is the fifth clinical test of the possible efficacy of cannabis for clinical use reported by the University of California Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research (CMCR). Four other human studies on control of neuropathic pain also reported positive results.
"The study by Corey Bloom and her colleagues adds to a growing body of evidence that cannabis has therapeutic value for selected indications, and may be an adjunct or alternative for patients whose spasticity or pain is not optimally managed," said Igor Grant, MD, director of the CMCR, which provided funding for the study.
Additional contributors include Tanya Wolfson, Anthony Gamst, PhD, Shelia Jin, MD, MPH, Thomas D. Marcotte, PhD, Heather Bentley and Ben Gouaux, all from UC San Diego School of Medicine.
Cannabis (Marijuana) May Help Alleviate Allergic Skin Disease
Administering a substance found in the cannabis plant can help the body's natural protective system alleviate an allergic skin disease (allergic contact dermatitis), an international group of researchers from Germany, Israel, Italy, Switzerland and the U.S. has found.
Allergic contact dermatitis is caused by reaction to something that directly contacts the skin. Many different substances (allergens) can cause allergic contact dermatitis. Usually these substances cause no trouble for most people, but if the skin is sensitive or allergic to the substance, any exposure will produce a rash, which may become very severe. Allergic contact dermatitis affects about 5 percent of men and 11percent of women in industrialized countries and is one of the leading causes for occupational diseases.
An article describing the work of the international research group, led by Dr Andreas Zimmer from the University of Bonn, was published recently in the journal Science. The article deals with alleviating allergic skin disease through what is called the endocannabinoid system. Among the members of the group is Prof. Raphael Mechoulam of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem School of Pharmacy.
In earlier work, Prof.Mechoulam's research group at the Hebrew University isolated two naturally occurring cannabinoid (cannabis-like) components -- one from the brain, named anandamide (from the word ananda, meaning supreme joy in Sanskrit), and another from the intestines named 2-AG. These two cannabinoids, plus their receptors and various enzymes that are involved in the cannnabinoids' syntheses and degradations, comprise the endocannabinoid system. These materials have similar effects to those of the active components in hashish and marijuana, produced from the cannabis plant.
Research by groups throughout the world has since shown that the endocannabinoid system is involved in many physiological processes, including the protective reaction of the mammalian body to a long list of neurological diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.
In the article in Science, the researchers detail how the endocannabinoid system serves as a major regulator of cutaneous (skin) contact hypersensitivity (CHS) in a mouse model. In this model, they showed, for example, that mice lacking cannabinoid receptors display exacerbated inflammatory skin responses to an allergen.
Because the data indicate that enhanced activation of the endocannabinoid system may function to dampen the CHS response, the researchers administered cannabinoids such as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a constituent derived from the cannabis plant, to the experimental animals. They findings showed that the THC significantly decreased the allergic reaction in comparison to untreated mice.
In order to better understand the molecular mechanism that may contribute to the increased CHS in cannabinoid-receptor deficient mice, the researchers performed a series of experiments which showed that mouse skin cells produce a specific chemical (a chemokine) which is involved in the annoying disease reaction. Activation of the endocannabinoid system in the skin upon exposure to a contact allergen lowers the allergic responses through modulating the production of this chemokine.
The results thus clearly show a protective role for the endocannabinoid system in contact allergy in the skin and suggest that development of cannabinoid compounds based on elements produced from the cannabis plant could enhance therapeutic treatment for humans.
Note: This story has been adapted from a news release issued by The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
Impact Of Cannabis On Bones Changes With Age, Study Finds
As reported in ScienceDaily, scientists investigating the effects of cannabis on bone health have found that its impact varies dramatically with age.
The study has found that although cannabis could reduce bone strength in young people, it may protect against osteoporosis, a weakening of the bones, in later life.
The team at the University of Edinburgh has shown that a molecule found naturally in the body, which can be activated by cannabis -- called the type 1 cannabinoid receptor (CB1) -- is key to the development of osteoporosis.
It is known that when CB1 comes into contact with cannabis it has an impact on bone regeneration, but until now it was not clear whether the drug had a positive or negative effect.
Researchers, funded by the Arthritis Research Campaign, investigated this by studying mice that lacked the CB1 receptor. The scientists then used compounds ñ similar to those in cannabis ñ that activated the CB1 receptor. They found that compounds increased the rate at which bone tissue was destroyed in the young.
The study also showed, however, that the same compounds decreased bone loss in older mice and prevented the accumulation of fat in the bones, which is known to occur in humans with osteoporosis. The results are published in Cell Metabolism.
Osteoporosis affects up to 30 per cent of women and 12 per cent of men at some point in life.
Stuart Ralston, the Arthritis Research Campaign Professor of Rheumatology at the University of Edinburgh, who led the study, said: "This is an exciting step forward, but we must recognise that these are early results and more tests are needed on the effects of cannabis in humans to determine how the effects differ with age in people.
"We plan to conduct further trials soon and hope the results will help to deliver new treatments that will be of value in the fight against osteoporosis."
More Evidence That Marijuana Prevents Cancer
By Bruce Mirken, Marijuana Policy Project.
Among the more interesting pieces of news that came out while I was on vacation the first half of August was a new study in the journal Cancer Prevention Research, which found that marijuana smokers have a lower risk of head and neck cancers than people who don't smoke marijuana. Alas, this important research has been largely ignored by the news media.
While this type of study cannot conclusively prove cause and effect, the combination of this new study and existing research -- which for decades has shown that cannabinoids are fairly potent anticancer drugs -- raises a significant possibility that marijuana use is in fact protective against certain types of cancer.
A team of researchers from several major universities conducted what is known as a "case-control" study, comparing patients who had squamous cell carcinoma of the mouth, larynx, and pharynx with control patients matched for age, gender, and residence location who did not have cancer. By looking at matched groups with and without cancer, researchers hope to find patterns indicating risk or protective factors. In this case they focused on marijuana use, but also took into account known risk factors for this type of cancer, including tobacco and alcohol use.
After adjusting for those confounding factors, current marijuana users had a 48% reduced risk of head and neck cancer, and the reduction was statistically significant. Former users also had a lower risk, though it fell short of being significant. The investigators crunched the numbers several different ways -- for example, by amount of marijuana used or the frequency of use -- and the findings stayed the same nearly across the board, with moderate users showing the strongest and most consistent reduction in cancer risk.
The scientists write, "We found that moderate marijuana use was significantly associated with reduced risk HNSCC [head and neck squamous cell carcinoma]. The association was consistent across different measures of marijuana use (marijuana use status, duration, and frequency of use)."
Strikingly, among drinkers and cigarette smokers, those who also used marijuana reduced their cancer risk compared to those who only drank and smoked cigarettes. So marijuana may actually have been countering the known bad effects of booze and cigarettes.
Minimal Relationship Between Cannabis And Schizophrenia Or Psychosis, Suggested By New Study
As reported in ScienceDaily, last year the UK government reclassified cannabis from a class C to a class B drug, partly out of concerns that cannabis, especially the more potent varieties, may increase the risk of schizophrenia in young people. But the evidence for the relationship between cannabis and schizophrenia or psychosis remains controversial. A new study has determined that it may be necessary to stop thousands of cannabis users in order to prevent a single case of schizophrenia.
Scientists from Bristol, Cambridge and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine took the latest information on numbers of cannabis users, the risk of developing schizophrenia, and the risk that cannabis use causes schizophrenia to estimate how many cannabis users may need to be stopped to prevent one case of schizophrenia. The study found it would be necessary to stop 2800 heavy cannabis users in young men and over 5000 heavy cannabis users in young women to prevent a single case of schizophrenia. Among light cannabis users, those numbers rise to over 10,000 young men and nearly 30,000 young women to prevent one case of schizophrenia.
That's just part of the story. Interventions to prevent cannabis use typically do not succeed for every person who is treated. Depending on how effective an intervention is at preventing cannabis use, it would be necessary to treat even higher numbers of users to achieve the thousands of successful results necessary to prevent a very few cases of schizophrenia.
Matt Hickman, one of the authors of the report recently published in the journal Addiction, said that "preventing cannabis use is important for many reasons -- including reducing tobacco and drug dependence and improving school performance. But our evidence suggests that focusing on schizophrenia may have been misguided. Our research cannot resolve the question whether cannabis causes schizophrenia, but does show that many people need to give up cannabis in order to have an impact on the number of people with schizophrenia. The likely impact of re-classifying cannabis in the UK on schizophrenia or psychosis incidence is very uncertain."
Marijuana Prevents Alzheimer's Disease
by Dan Eden
"Don't smoke dope. It'll rot your brain." That's what the high school nuns at Cathedral High School used to tell me. Of course, most of the guys I hung out with had been smoking pot for years, many starting in their early teens. While smoking every day was sometimes bad for schoolwork and the wallet, it always seemed better than drinking beer. The "suds" crowd, as we "dopers" called the budding alcoholics, always seemed to be getting in fights and destined for a low rent life.
I smoked all through college and grad school. My grades didn't suffer and it seems that my stoned introspection allowed me to understand myself better and to develop more confidence. I tried other drugs like LSD and cocaine, but they never appealed to me like marijuana. It helped me to relax and "smell the roses" as I experienced life.
As time passed, the "bags" of grass I used to buy for twenty bucks changed to the plastic jewel cases of cultivated bud, with exotic names like "kush" and "goldylocks" -- and exotic prices. The same twenty bucks now bought only a two grams!
I found marijuana in almost every corner of the globe. In Yemen, China, Australia, Somalia, Brazil, Cambodia and even Iceland. There was always someone selling and using it. It seems endemic to humanity.
Somehow, with finding a job and starting a family, the regularity of smoking pot diminished. I never made a conscious decision to stop, it just happened. I was too busy doing other things. I couldn't say the same for my "suds" friends, whose full blown alcoholism netted them police records, divorces and stomach ulcers.
A couple of years ago my father was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. It was a horrible experience both for him and me. He first forgot my name, then who I was, and ultimately lost himself. They told me at the time it was hereditary and possibly I had some genetic predisposition to his fate.
Recently, I saw a news item that showed how smoking marijuana can prevent Alzheimer's. It seems that the active ingredient in marijuana may prevent the progression of the disease by preserving levels of an important neurotransmitter that allows the brain to function.
Researchers at the Scripps Research Institute in California found that marijuana's active ingredient, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, can prevent the neurotransmitter acetylcholine from breaking down more effectively than commercially marketed drugs.
THC is also more effective at blocking clumps of protein that can inhibit memory and cognition in Alzheimer's patients, the researchers reported in the journal Molecular Pharmaceutics.
The researchers said their discovery could lead to more effective drug treatment for Alzheimer's, the leading cause of dementia among the elderly. I am counting on that to keep my memories intact.
Possessing marijuana for recreational use is illegal in many parts of the world, including the United States, though some states allow possession for medical purposes. My friend Lee, for example, lives in California. Lee is one of the "dopers" who never allowed work or family to interfere with his smoking enjoyment. It has become a ritual that is the very fabric of his personality. He told me that he recently got a note from his doctor allowing him to legally buy marijuana in a "pot store." California is way ahead of other states. But he says the price is about the same as he used to pay on the street. While the illegality issues may be diminished, the price of marijuana is still prohibitive.
Treating Alzheimer's is one of the major expenses facing our burdened health care system. It also caused immeasurable heartbreak to families. Let's hope that this new research will make marijuana available for preventive treatments of dementia and Alzheimer's at a cost that is accessible to the needy.
Active Component Of Marijuana Has Anti-cancer Effects, Study Suggests
As reported in ScienceDaily, Guillermo Velasco and colleagues, at Complutense University, Spain, have provided evidence that suggests that cannabinoids such as the main active component of marijuana (THC) have anticancer effects on human brain cancer cells.
In the study, THC was found to induce the death of various human brain cancer cell lines and primary cultured human brain cancer cells by a process known as autophagy.
Consistent with the in vitro data, administration of THC to mice with human tumors decreased tumor growth and induced the tumor cells to undergo autophagy. As analysis of tumors from two patients with recurrent glioblastoma multiforme (a highly aggressive brain tumor) receiving intracranial THC administration showed signs of autophagy, the authors suggest that cannabinoid administration may provide a new approach to targeting human cancers.
Cannabinoid action induces autophagy-mediated cell death through stimulation of ER stress in human glioma cells.
Salazar et al. Cannabinoid action induces autophagy-mediated cell death through stimulation of ER stress in human glioma cells. Journal of Clinical Investigation, 2009; DOI: 10.1172/JCI37948
Cannabis chemicals may help fight prostate cancer
By Ben Hirschler
LONDON, Aug. 19, 2009 (Reuters) -- Chemicals in cannabis have been found to stop prostate cancer cells from growing in the laboratory, suggesting that cannabis-based medicines could one day help fight the disease, scientists said Wednesday.
Prostate Cancer Treatment
After working initially with human cancer cell lines, Ines Diaz-Laviada and colleagues from the University of Alcala in Madrid also tested one compound on mice and discovered it produced a significant reduction in tumor growth.
Their research, published in the British Journal of Cancer, underlines the growing interest in the medical use of active chemicals called cannabinoids, which are found in marijuana.
Experts, however, stressed that the research was still exploratory and many more years of testing would be needed to work out how to apply the findings to the treatment of cancer in humans.
"This is interesting research which opens a new avenue to explore potential drug targets but it is at a very early stage," said Lesley Walker, director of cancer information at Cancer Research UK, which owns the journal.
"It absolutely isn't the case that men might be able to fight prostate cancer by smoking cannabis," she added
The cannabinoids tested by the Spanish team are thought to work against prostate cancer because they block a receptor, or molecular doorway, on the surface of tumour cells. This stops them from dividing.
In effect, the cancer cell receptors can recognize and "talk to" chemicals found in cannabis, said Diaz-Laviada.
"These chemicals can stop the division and growth of prostate cancer cells and could become a target for new research into potential drugs to treat prostate cancer," she said.
Her team's work with two cannabinoids -- called methanandamide and JWH-015 -- is the first demonstration that such cannabis chemicals prevent cancer cells from multiplying.
Some drug companies are already exploring the possibilities of cannabinoids in cancer, including British-based cannabis medicine specialist GW Pharmaceuticals.
It is collaborating with Japan's Otsuka on early-stage research into using cannabis extracts to tackle prostate cancer -- the most commonly diagnosed cancer in men -- as well as breast and brain cancer.
GW has already developed an under-the-tongue spray called Sativex for the relief of some of the symptoms of multiple sclerosis, which it plans to market in Europe with Bayer and Almirall.
Other attempts to exploit the cannibinoid system have met with mixed success. Sanofi-Aventis was forced to withdraw its weight-loss drug Acomplia from the market last year because of links to mental disorders.
Marijuana might cause new cell growth in the brain
by Kurt Kleiner
A synthetic chemical similar to the active ingredient in marijuana makes new cells grow in rat brains. What is more, in rats this cell growth appears to be linked with reducing anxiety and depression. The results suggest that marijuana, or its derivatives, could actually be good for the brain.
In mammals, new nerve cells are constantly being produced in a part of the brain called the hippocampus, which is associated with learning, memory, anxiety and depression. Other recreational drugs, such as alcohol, nicotine and cocaine, have been shown to suppress this new growth. Xia Zhang of the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, Canada, and colleagues decided to see what effects a synthetic cannabinoid called HU210 had on rats' brains.
They found that giving rats high doses of HU210 twice a day for 10 days increased the rate of nerve cell formation, or neurogenesis, in the hippocampus by about 40%.
Just like Prozac?
A previous study showed that the antidepressant fluoxetine (Prozac) also increases new cell growth, and the results indicated that it was this cell growth that caused Prozac's anti-anxiety effect. Zhang wondered whether this was also the case for the cannabinoid, and so he tested the rats for behavioural changes.
When the rats who had received the cannabinoid were placed under stress, they showed fewer signs of anxiety and depression than rats who had not had the treatment. When neurogenesis was halted in these rats using X-rays, this effect disappeared, indicating that the new cell growth might be responsible for the behavioural changes.
In another study, Barry Jacobs, a neuroscientist at Princeton University, gave mice the natural cannabinoid found in marijuana, THC (D9-tetrahydrocannabinol)). But he says he detected no neurogenesis, no matter what dose he gave or the length of time he gave it for. He will present his results at the Society for Neuroscience meeting in Washington DC in November.
Jacobs says it could be that HU210 and THC do not have the same effect on cell growth. It could also be the case that cannabinoids behave differently in different rodent species - which leaves open the question of how they behave in humans.
Zhang says more research is needed before it is clear whether cannabinoids could some day be used to treat depression in humans.
Journal reference: Journal of Clinical Investigation (DOI:10.1172/JCI25509)
Cannabis Hope for Inflammatory Bowel Disease
As reported in ScienceDaily, chemicals found in cannabis could prove an effective treatment for the inflammatory bowel diseases Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn's Disease, say scientists.
Laboratory tests have shown that two compounds found in the cannabis plant -- the cannabinoids THC and cannabidiol -- interact with the body's system that controls gut function.
Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis, which affect about one in every 250 people in Northern Europe, are caused by both genetic and environmental factors. The researchers believe that a genetic susceptibility coupled with other triggers, such as diet, stress or bacterial imbalance, leads to a defective immune response.
Dr Karen Wright, Peel Trust Lecturer in Biomedicine at Lancaster University, presented her soon-to-be published work at The British Pharmacological Society's Winter Meeting in London.
She said: "The lining of the intestines provides a barrier against the contents of the gut but in people with Crohn's Disease this barrier leaks and bacteria can escape into the intestinal tissue leading to an inappropriate immune response.
"If we could find a way to restore barrier integrity in patients we may be able to curb the inflammatory immune response that causes these chronic conditions."
Dr Wright, working with colleagues at the School of Graduate Entry Medicine and Health in Derby, has shown that cells that react to cannabinoid compounds play an important role in normal gut function as well as the immune system's inflammatory response.
"The body produces its own cannabinoid molecules, called endocannabinoids, which we have shown increase the permeability of the epithelium during inflammation, implying that overproduction may be detrimental," said Dr Wright.
"However, we were able to reverse this process using plant-derived cannabinoids, which appeared to allow the epithelial cells to form tighter bonds with each other and restore the membrane barrier."
The research was carried out using cell cultures in a dish but, interestingly, when the team attempted to mimic the conditions of the gut by reducing the amount of oxygen in the cells' environment, much lower concentrations of cannabinoid were needed to produce the same effect.
Dr Wright added: "What is also encouraging is that while THC has psychoactive properties and is responsible for the 'high' people experience when using cannabis, cannabidiol, which has also proved effective in restoring membrane integrity, does not possess such properties."
Studies Show Marijuana Has 'Therapeutic Value'; Research Reported to California 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.
Cannabis can make patients 'less bothered by pain'... Cannabis plant Cannabis can offer pain relief to some people
Cannabis makes pain more bearable rather than actually reducing it, a study from the University of Oxford suggests. [reported by BBC News 12/23/2012]
Using brain imaging, researchers found that the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis reduced activity in a part of the brain linked to emotional aspects of pain.
But the effect on the pain experienced varied greatly, they said.
The researchers' findings are published in the journal Pain.
The Oxford researchers recruited 12 healthy men to take part in their small study.
Participants were given either a 15mg tablet of THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) - the ingredient that is responsible for the high -- or a placebo.
The volunteers then had a cream rubbed into the skin of one leg to induce pain, which was either a dummy cream or a cream that contained chilli -- which caused a burning and painful sensation.
Each participant had four MRI scans which revealed how their brain activity changed when their perception of the pain reduced.
"Cannabis appears to mainly affect the emotional reaction to pain in a highly variable way."
Dr Michael Lee, lead study author from Oxford University's Centre for Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging of the Brain, said: "We found that with THC, on average people didn't report any change in the burn, but the pain bothered them less."
MRI brain imaging showed reduced activity in key areas of the brain that explained the pain relief which the study participants experienced.
Dr Lee suggested that the findings could help predict who would benefit from taking cannabis for pain relief - because not everyone does.
"We may in future be able to predict who will respond to cannabis, but we would need to do studies in patients with chronic pain over longer time periods."
He added: "Cannabis does not seem to act like a conventional pain medicine. Some people respond really well, others not at all, or even poorly.
"Brain imaging shows little reduction in the brain regions that code for the sensation of pain, which is what we tend to see with drugs like opiates.
"Instead cannabis appears to mainly affect the emotional reaction to pain in a highly variable way."
Mick Serpell, a senior lecturer in pain medicine at Glasgow University, said the study confirmed what was already known.
"It highlights the fact that cannabis may be a means of disengagement for the patient, rather than a pain reliever - but we can see that happen with opioids too."
The study was funded by the UK Medical Research Council and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Oxford Biomedical Research Centre.
Note: Viewzone makes no endorsement to use marijuana or any controlled substance. We present information so that you can make your own choice on this matter.
Thanks for this extremely informative article....The research on these medical studies is exactly what everyone pro or con needs to see....there is a lot of people that could add their medical experiences as a layman or user in these comments....there is so much more marijuana can do for health issues than there are scientific studies ...come on guys lets hear them....
I have fibromyalgia and marijuana (a minute amount) can completely stop the pain and brain fog for a good period of time....Because I have taken pharmaceuticals as prescribed to "help the horrors of fibromyalgia" for the last 3 years I now have liver disease.... That’s allopathic medicine for you..Now they want me to take medicine to help the liver disease that medicine caused....Fructose that **** I am smoking the stuff till I die....We need more published studies...the more people that write in with their helpful stories of marijuana the more studies will be done....This is a widely read site as in all over the world...for all I know I may be the only person who knows for sure marijuana can completely halt the highly magnified and mobile pain, spasms and allow one to regain mobility from fibromyalgia.
this girl, waiting for comments...