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(Washington) - National HIV/AIDS and advocacy groups including the National Association of People With AIDS (NAPWA) today called for congressional hearings in response to a new study from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) on medical cannabis and neuropathic pain, published in the peer reviewed journal Neurology. The study is the first of its kind
“This study validates the experience people living with HIV/AIDS and their doctors have reported for years— medical cannabis provides much-needed relief from pain and suffering.” said NAPWA Executive Director Frank Oldham Jr. “That is why we are joining Americans for Safe Access to call on Congress to address cannabis for its medicinal value.”
An estimated 3-4 million people in the U.S. suffer from neuropathic pain, and as many as 37% of people living with HIV/AIDS use cannabis to treat neuropathy and other symptoms associated with the disease.
The UCSF study was a randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial of 50 patients who had an average of six years of neuropathic pain. The pain reduction in the group receiving the medical cannabis was twice that of the placebo group.
“I have been living with HIV/AIDS for 21 years and owe my life to the benefits of medical cannabis,” said UCSF study participant Diana Dodson. “It reduces the pain and side-effects such as nausea and stomach pains that are caused by the drugs I need to take in order to stay alive. But I need the government to grant me safe access to my medicine.”
The study builds on other international evidence and a 1999 Institute of Medicine (IOM) report Marijuana and Medicine, Assessing the Science Base.
“This study demonstrates the potential effectiveness of medical cannabis to treat the chronic pain of people living with HIV/AIDS,” said Dr. Barbara T. Roberts, Director of Medical and Scientific Affairs for Americans for Safe Access and former Senior Policy Analyst at the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. “In addition to people living with HIV/AIDS, there are thousands of vets returning from Iraq who will spend decades coping with neurological pain. By implementing the recommendations of the IOM report, the federal government would be exploring more options for their long-term treatment of neuropathic pain.”
The groups are calling on Congress to hold hearings on the IOM report to adopt its recommendations to allow patients and researchers to have access to medical cannabis.
“It’s time for Washington to stop playing politics with patients’ lives and advance this important scientific discovery,” said Steph Sherer, Executive Director of Americans for Safe Access. “The study is a wake-up call for Congress to hold hearings to investigate therapeutic use and encourage research.”
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With more than 30,000 active members with chapters and affiliates in more than 40 states, Americans for Safe Access is the largest national member-based organization of patients, medical professionals, scientists and concerned citizens promoting safe and legal access to cannabis for therapeutic uses and research.