AIDS Study Shows Marijuana Medical Benefits

February 14, 2007

Bruce Mirken, New York Blade

A University of California at San Francisco study appearing in this week's issue of the journal Neurology puts to rest any doubts about the need to change the laws to allow for legal access to marijuana for the seriously ill, officials of the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) in Washington, D.C. said Monday.

The trial involved HIV/AIDS patients suffering from peripheral neuropathy, a painful condition stemming from nerve damage done either by HIV itself or by the drugs used to treat it. There are no FDA-approved treatments for the condition, which eventually afflicts about one-third of those who are infected with HIV. Neuropathic pain -- which is also common in other illnesses, including multiple sclerosis -- is notoriously resistant to conventional pain drugs, including highly addictive opiates.

UCSF researcher Dr. Donald Abrams and colleagues tested the efficacy of smoked marijuana on both HIV neuropathy and a type of laboratory-induced pain specially designed to provide an objective measurement. In both types of pain, marijuana provided significant relief.

"This study directly contradicts the federal government's assertion that marijuana is not a safe and effective medicine," said MPP Executive Director Rob Kampia. "Even though this clinical trial had to be conducted using government-supplied marijuana that's of notoriously poor quality, marijuana was shown to be safe and effective in treating a condition for which there are literally no FDA-approved treatments. It's time for our government to wake up, smell the science, and change the law to allow suffering patients legal access to medical marijuana."

HIV/AIDS patients who have used marijuana to treat neuropathy weren't surprised by the results of the study. "The pain used to be so bad that I sometimes couldn't walk or even stand for more than a few minutes, and other drugs they gave me didn't help much or made me too dizzy," said Eric Billings of Lewiston, Montana. "Medical marijuana relieves my pain and gives me my mobility back when nothing else really helped."

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