Pages tagged "Research"


Research Approved to Study Effects of Medical Marijuana on PTSD



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After a lengthy approval process, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)  has granted research to study the effects of medical marijuana on people living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). This summer, the research group MAPS was given the go-ahead by FDA to conduct a:
Placebo-Controlled, Triple-Blind, Randomized Crossover Pilot Study of the Safety and Efficacy of Five Different Potencies of Smoked or Vaporized Marijuana in 50 Veterans with Chronic, Treatment-Resistant [PTSD].

The effects of medical marijuana on PTSD has been a growing area of inquiry given the difficulty of treating the condition and its prevalence among U.S. troops coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as others. PTSD affects as many as 7.8 percent of Americans and according to the New York Times:
Currently, nearly a third of the 4,982 patients approved for medical marijuana in New Mexico suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, more than any other condition, according to the state’s health department.

Preceding final approval by the federal government to conduct PTSD research using medical marijuana, the Journal Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience published an article in June 2011 on “The role of cannabinoids [the compounds found in the marijuana plant] in modulating emotional and emotional memory processes in the hippocampus.”

Unfortunately, MAPS still needs approval from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) before it can begin trials, but Americans for Safe Access looks forward to the eventual completion of this research and the greater acceptability of using marijuana to treat a debilitating condition that affects millions of people in the U.S.

Cannabis and Pain

Chronic pain conditions are the most prevalent form of disease in many countries. In the US, the American Pain Foundation estimates that 76.5 million people suffer from persistent pain. With few alternatives and a lack of safe and effective treatments for disabling pain, millions will continue struggling to function in their daily lives. Many people suffering from chronic pain have turned to medical cannabis, but the practice is still frowned upon by some lawmakers.

Montana recently passed a law to restrict the number of people living with chronic pain from taking part in the state’s medical cannabis program. Some states, such as New Jersey, arbitrarily prohibit the use of medical cannabis for chronic pain due to a failure by public officials to grasp the therapeutic benefits in this area.



Several new scientific articles examined the ability of cannabis and cannabinoids to treat pain. Clinical trials using cannabis in various forms (smoked, extracts, oral THC, synthetic analogues) were reviewed by different research teams. Three recent reviews of the clinical trials on cannabinoids and pain, demonstrate that cannabis and cannabinoids are effective for treating certain types of chronic pain with acceptable side effects.

After reviewing the scientific evidence, researchers from Canada concluded, that:
overall the quality of trials was excellent. Fifteen of the eighteen trials that met inclusion criteria demonstrated a significant analgesic effect of cannabinoid as compared to placebo, several reported significant improvements in sleep. There were no serious adverse effects. Adverse effects most commonly reported were generally well tolerated, mild to moderate in severity and led to withdrawal from the studies in only a few cases (Lynch et al).

These researchers go on to say:
this systematic review of 18 recent good quality randomized trials demonstrates that cannabinoids are a modestly effective and safe treatment option for chronic non-cancer (predominantly neuropathic) pain (Lynch et al).

Another research group from the University of Pennsylvania published a similar review concluding that:
there is strong evidence for a moderate analgesic effect in peripheral neuropathic and central pain conditions, and conflicting evidence for their use in nociceptive pain. For spasticity, most controlled studies demonstrate significant improvement. Adverse effects are not uncommon with cannabinoids, though most are not serious and self-limiting.

Both groups call for trials with cannabis or cannabinoids for the treatment of pain. Furthermore, a review on the treatments for HIV neuropathic pain concluded that:
evidence of efficacy exists only for capsaicin, smoked cannabis and rhNGF. However, rhNGF is clinically unavailable and smoked cannabis cannot be recommended as routine therapy (Phillips et al).

Meaning, the only medications that have been shown to effectively alleviate HIV/AIDS neuropathic pain are not available on the market. Notably, smoked cannabis was shown to be effective for the treatment of HIV neuropathy, a condition that affects upwards of 40% of the estimated 33 million people currently living with HIV (Phillips et al).

Neuropathic pain, pain from multiple sclerosis, various chronic pain conditions, and often cancer pain are routinely treated with opiates, anticonvulsants, and antidepressants (Russo 2008), but are difficult types of pain to treat. Cannabis extracts have been shown to treat difficult-to-manage pain in patients that is non-responsive to more conventional treatments. Furthermore, medical cannabis researcher Ethan Russo suggests that the use of Cannabis preparations offers "side benefits" due to the presence of additional compounds:
These include anti-emetic effects, well established with THC, but additionally demonstrated for CBD (Pertwee 2005), the ability of THC and CBD to produce apoptosis in malignant cells and inhibit cancer-induced angiogenesis (Kogan 2005; Ligresti et al 2006), as well as the neuroprotective antioxidant properties of the two substances (Hampson et al 1998), and improvements in symptomatic insomnia (Russo et al 2007).

The therapeutic benefits of cannabis for pain are evident both scientifically and anecdotally. Public officials should develop policies that correspond to such benefits and stop restricting access for people with debilitating pain.

This guest blog was written by Jahan Marcu, a researcher in the field of cannabinoid pharmacology, vice-chair of the medical and scientific advisory board of Americans for Safe Access, and science editor at freedomisgreen.com. He was part of a research team which published a study in the journal of Molecular Cancer Therapeutics on how CBD can enhance the anti-cancer effects of THC in aggressive brain cancer in 2010.

Federal Agency Tips Hat to Medical Cannabis While 9-Year-Old Rescheduling Petition Gathers Dust

According to the Washington Independent, the National Cancer Institute (NCI), a federal agency under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), has added "Cannabis" to its website as a Complementary Alternative Medicine (CAM). This is the first time in contemporary history that a federal agency has made such an admission, especially as it applies to cancer:
The potential benefits of medicinal Cannabis for people living with cancer include antiemetic effects, appetite stimulation, pain relief, and improved sleep. In the practice of integrative oncology, the health care provider may recommend medicinal Cannabis not only for symptom management but also for its possible direct antitumor effect.
This statement is in stark contrast to the historical rhetoric of HHS, which has consistently said marijuana (cannabis) is a dangerous drug with no medical value. Further complicating the government's position, NCI also states on its website:
Cannabis has been used for medicinal purposes for thousands of years prior to its current status as an illegal substance.
Meanwhile, a 9-year-old petition to reschedule cannabis sits before the federal government gathering dust. The Coalition for Rescheduling Cannabis, which filed its petition in 2002, has never received a response. Read more about this federal contradiction from ASA's press release on the issue here.

Medical Marijuana Advocates Bring Attention to DEA Confirmation Hearings

Americans for Safe Access is urging Senate Judiciary Committee (SJC) members to ask Acting Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) head Michele Leonhart difficult and pointed questions on Wednesday, during her confirmation hearing, about her plan to address the growing divide between federal and state medical marijuana laws. Leonhart, a Bush-holdover, led aggressive attacks for many years against medical marijuana patients and their providers, and has obstructed meaningful research into the medical efficacy of marijuana. Read more about Leonhart’s confirmation hearing, her background as Deputy DEA Administrator, the questions ASA has submitted to the SJC, and the action patients are taking to hold Leonhart accountable for her actions.

[caption id="attachment_993" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Acting DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart"]
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Advocates Urged Not to Lose Sight of Marijuana's Medicinal Properties

In a recent editorial published in the San Diego Tribune, Dr. Igor Grant reminds medical marijuana advocates that even with the hotly debated Proposition 19 on California's ballot this November, we have to keep our eyes on the prize. In this case, that means "thoughtful, continued research" into the therapeutic properties of marijuana.  Dr. Grant, a professor and Executive Vice-Chair of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California at San Diego School of Medicine, cites three recently published studies that indicate "marijuana effectively blunts neuropathic pain in some people." He acknowledges that while this is a limited number of small studies, the results of these studies argue for more testing in the future. And to get there, we can't let ourselves or our cause get mired in the politics of legalization.

Dr. Andrew Weil Applauds New Documentary Film “What if Cannabis Cured Cancer”

A new documentary by Len Richmond, “What if Cannabis Cured Cancer,” is starting to turn heads. Dr. Andrew Weil recently reviewed Richmond’s film, calling it “excellent,” and last week answered a question about medical cannabis on his web site.
[E]xciting new research suggests that the cannabinoids found in marijuana may have a primary role in cancer treatment and prevention. A number of studies have shown that these compounds can inhibit tumor growth in laboratory animal models. In part, this is achieved by inhibiting angiogenesis, the formation of new blood vessels that tumors need in order to grow. What's more, cannabinoids seem to kill tumor cells without affecting surrounding normal cells. If these findings hold true as research progresses, cannabinoids would demonstrate a huge advantage over conventional chemotherapy agents, which too often destroy normal cells as well as cancer cells.
Though not referenced in Dr. Weil’s answer, much of the recent investigation into inhibiting cancer growth using cannabis comes from Dr. Sean D. McAllister, of the California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco and medical cannabis researcher Jahan Marcu, who is also on the Medical & Scientific Advisory Board of Americans for Safe Access (ASA). Richmond’s film is narrated by Emmy-winning actor Peter Coyote and has a host of medical cannabis experts, including Dr. McAllister, Dr. Donald Abrams, Professor of Clinical Medicine and Integrative Oncology at UCSF, Dr. Robert Melamede, University of Colorado Biology Chairman and ASA Advisory Board member, as well as researchers from Spain and Israel. Richmond’s film asks:
Could the chemicals found in marijuana prevent and even heal several deadly cancers? Could the tumor-regulating properties of “cannabinoids” someday replace the debilitating drugs, chemotherapy, and radiation that harms as often as it heals?
The film also includes a bonus comedy puppet short, “Kurt Cannabis Meets Connie Cancer,” with the voices of Roseanne Barr and Malcolm McDowell. Drawing attention to the federal government’s outdated position that “marijuana has no currently accepted medical use,” Dr. Weil concluded in his review of Richmond’s film:
If we need more evidence that our current policy on cannabis is counterproductive and foolish, here it is.
Richmond’s film will be screening at the Sausalito Film Festival on Sunday, August 15th, at 1:30 pm, followed by a panel discussion on cannabis and cancer with Richmond, Dr. Donald Abrams, Dr. Jeffery Hergenrather, Dr. Sean McAllister. For additional information, go to Len Richmond’s web site: http://LenRichmondFilms.com.

Advocates Decry DEA Obstruction to Medical Marijuana Research - Obama Can and Should Regain an Adherence to Scientific Principles

Only days before President Bush is to leave office, his administration has dealt yet another blow to scientific integrity by refusing to implement the recommendations of DEA Administrative Law Judge Mary Ellen Bittner and open up the production of cannabis (marijuana) for research purposes. For more than 40 years, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has maintained a monopoly on the cultivation of cannabis for Food & Drug Administration-approved scientific studies. Instead of opening up research on the medical properties of cannabis, the Bush administration has chosen to hide its head in the sand and obstruct the advancement of this important therapeutic substance. In June of 2001, University of Massachusetts at Amherst professor Lyle Craker, an experienced research botanist, applied for a license to cultivate cannabis for FDA-approved studies. After nine days of testimony from many experts and administration officials, Judge Bittner issued a set of recommendations in February 2007, concluding that the current sole-supply of cannabis by NIDA was insufficient for the level of research that cannabis deserves and that expanded research was "in the public interest." After nearly two years of delay, acting DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart issued a ruling today that refuses to implement Judge Bittner's recommendations. This refusal by Leonhart to adhere to her own DEA Administrative Law Judge is especially disappointing and insensitive in light of strong Congressional support for expanded research and a desire to dismantle the current monopoly on research cannabis production. In 2008, forty-five members of Congress sent a letter to then-DEA Administrator Karen Tandy, urging her to accept Judge Bittner's recommendations and calling the federal monopoly on cannabis production "unjustified." Incoming president Barack Obama has an opportunity to correct this shortsighted position that fails to recognize medical and scientific precedent. Rather than turn a cold shoulder to the reams of scientific studies pointing to the therapeutic benefits of cannabis, president-elect Obama has the opportunity to develop a sensible policy with regard to medical cannabis research. In addition, since acting-DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart has shown little capacity for understanding the need for more research into cannabis, Obama should appoint a candidate to head the DEA that can grasp the importance of advancing this important medicinal substance. To be sure, anything less will perpetuate the outdated position of the Bush Administration and deny hundreds of thousands of Americans a medicine that has been shown to be effective at treating innumerable illnesses and the side effects of toxic treatments.

ASA Video Testimonial- 2nd Installment

Welcome to the latest installment of ASA's video testimonial project. As many of you may remember, the video testimonial project has been designed to help educate people about medical cannabis by having patients and supporters share their stories. This project was also designed to help people like you educate your friends and family about medical cannabis by sharing these videos with your community. Forward this blog to family, friends, and community members and help spread the word about medical cannabis. Also, check back here next Monday for the next installment of the video testimonials. Richard from Berkeley, CA Thank you again to Carson Higby-Flowers for volunteering to record, edit, and produce the testimonials. Also, thank you to all of the brave patients, supporters, and advocates who took the time to come in and participate in the video shoot. Check out last week's installment featuring three medical cannabis patients here.

Join ASA at Medical Cannabis Conference

Join ASA at the 5th National Clinical Conference on Cannabis Therapeutics!

 

Doctors, patients, and researchers from around the world are gearing up for the 5th National Clinical Conference on Cannabis Therapeutics, hosted by Patients Out of Time on April 4-5. Click here to register for the conference. Patient Out of Time's Conference on Cannabis Therapeutics will feature patients, activists, doctors, and researchers gathering to discuss the latest research on medical marijuana. This important conference only happens once every other year, so if you are a patient, doctor, researcher, and/or supporter, we strongly encourage you to consider attending the conference, which will be held on the Monterey Peninsula. The conference is less than a month away, and the registration price increases after March 20, so register today! Several members of ASA's Medical and Scientific Advisory Board have been asked to present at the conference, including Philippe Lucas whose talk will be "Putting the Compassion in Compassion Clubs." This cutting edge conference is an excellent opportunity for patients, and their physicians, to learn about exciting and important developments in research. Started in 2000, the Conference on Cannabis Therapeutics is the only national conference organized specifically by patients where attendees will learn about the scientific evidence supporting the therapeutic use of cannabis. It offers the opportunity to meet, network, and share experiences with a diverse national gathering of patients, medical cannabis researchers, our allies and supporters. Join ASA at the 5th National Clinical Conference on Cannabis Therapeutics, April 4-5, 2008, at Asilomar Conference Center, in beautiful, coastal Pacific Grove, California. If you are a patient, please share this information with your medical cannabis physician. The conference has been accredited by University of California, San Francisco which means your physician could be eligible to receive Continuing Medical Education credits. For more information, see their website at www.medicalcannabis.com/conference.htm Help send ASA's staff and supporters to the National Clinical Conference on Cannabis Therapeutics. Become a member of ASA today!

Medical Marijuana Week Is Over...But That Won't Stop Activists!

Recently, the medical cannabis community celebrated Medical Marijuana Awareness Week 2008. Thousands of patients, activists, and supporters like you participated in ASA's daily actions, generating letters to the editors, joining ASA as members, and meeting with elected officials. This was the sixth annual Medical Marijuana Week, held during the week of 2/15 to commemorate the passage of Proposition 215, California's medical cannabis law. Starting Medical Marijuana Week on Monday the 10th, ASA encouraged supporters to strengthen the movement and become members of ASA. Many of ASA's supporters became members throughout the week helping ASA raise just under $1,000! If you missed out on becoming a member, please visit www.AmericansforSafeAccess.org/MMJWeekMonday Next, supporters were urged to contact their U.S. Senators' district offices urge them to support research. Over a dozen groups nationwide dropped in on their Senators' offices on that day. Since then, medical cannabis supporters have continued to meet with their Senators' district offices. To find out how you can support medical cannabis research visit www.AmericansforSafeAccess.org/MMJWeekTuesday On Wednesday the 12th , two dozen activists used ASA's Action Center to send letters to their local news papers calling on their Senators to take a stand and support medical cannabis research. If you have not yet written a short message to your local paper visit www.AmericansforSafeAccess.org/MMJWeekWednesday to make your voice heard! On Valentine's Day, 35 patients and advocates met their condition-based union match. These individuals to their support for safe access a step further by joining one of ASA's seven different condition-based unions such as the Chronic Pain Union, HIV/AIDS Union, Seniors Union, etc. Become a member of ASA's condition-based union today! Visit www.AmericansforSafeAccess.org/MMJWeekThursday On Friday, ASA released its first annual National Field Report and gave supporters a look at the work and accomplishments ASA's chapters and affiliates had in 2007. After reading the national field report, nearly a dozen people contacted ASA saying they wanted to start an ASA chapter and/or become an affiliate. See what all the fuss is about! Visit www.AmericansforSafeAccess.org/MMJWeekFriday During Medical Marijuana Awareness weekend, ASA challenged supporters to walk their talk and circulate a new petition in their community. In just over a week, ASA has already begun to receive signature-filled petitions from activists. Join the momentum and download your state-specific petition today at www.AmericansforSafeAccess.org/MMJWeekSunday Thank you to all the activists, chapters, affiliates, and supporters for making Medical Marijuana Week such a success! Let's keep this train rolling! Take Action today!