Tag Archives: Cannabis’

Scientific Journal: Cannabis’ “Schedule I Classification Is Not Tenable”

Posted on05. Jul, 2012 by .

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The present classification of cannabis and its organic compounds as schedule I prohibited substances under federal law is scientifically indefensible, according to a just published review in The Open Neurology Journal.

Investigators with the University of California at San Diego and the University of California, Davis reviewed the results of several recent clinical trials assessing the safety and efficacy of inhaled or vaporized cannabis. They concluded:

“Evidence is accumulating that cannabinoids may be useful medicine for certain indications. Control of nausea and vomiting and the promotion of weight gain in chronic inanition are already licensed uses of oral THC (dronabinol capsules). Recent research indicates that cannabis may also be effective in the treatment of painful peripheral neuropathy and muscle spasticity from conditions such as multiple sclerosis. Other indications have been proposed, but adequate clinical trials have not been conducted.

“… The classification of marijuana as a Schedule I drug as well as the continuing controversy as to whether or not cannabis is of medical value are obstacles to medical progress in this area. Based on evidence currently available the Schedule I classification is not tenable; it is not accurate that cannabis has no medical value, or that information on safety is lacking. It is true cannabis has some abuse potential, but its profile more closely resembles drugs in Schedule III (where codeine and dronabinol are listed). The continuing conflict between scientific evidence and political ideology will hopefully be reconciled in a judicious manner.”

The lead author of the review, Dr. Igor Grant, is the director of the Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research. In recent years, the CMCR has conducted various FDA-approved ‘gold standard’ clinical trials evaluating inhaled cannabis as a therapeutic agent. The results of several of those trials are summarized here.

Under federal law, schedule I controlled substances are defined as possessing “a high potential for abuse, … no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, and there is a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug or other substance under medical supervision.” Heroin and Methaqualone (Quaaludes) are examples of other Schedule I substances.

In 2011, the Obama administration — via the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) — formally denied a nine-year-old administrative petition filed by NORML and a coalition of public interest organizations calling on the agency to initiate hearings to reassess the present classification of marijuana as a schedule I controlled substance without any ‘accepted medical use in treatment.’ In her denial of the petition, DEA administrator Michele Leonhart alleged: “[T]here are no adequate and well-controlled studies proving (marijuana’s) efficacy; the drug is not accepted by qualified experts. … At this time, the known risks of marijuana use have not been shown to be outweighed by specific benefits in well-controlled clinical trials that scientifically evaluate safety and efficacy.”

Last month, Ms. Leonhart testified before Congress that she believed that heroin and marijuana posed similar threats to the public’s health because, in her opinion, “all illegal drugs are bad.”

Coalition advocates are presently appealing the DEA’s denial of their petition in federal court.

Full text of the paper from The Open Neurology Journal, entitled “Medical Marijuana: Clearing Away the Smoke,” is available online here.

NORML Blog, Marijuana Law Reform

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Breaking: Clinical Trial Data Yet Again Affirms Cannabis’ Efficacy

Posted on18. May, 2012 by .

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Is it any wonder that the US government fights tooth-and-nail to hinder researchers’ attempts to conduct clinical trials assessing the therapeutic utility of cannabis as a medicine? After all, each and every time the federal government begrudgingly allows for such studies they’re faced with credibility-shattering results like this:

Marijuana relieves muscles tightness, pain of multiple sclerosis: Study
via the Toronto Star

Smoking marijuana can relieve muscle tightness, spasticity (contractions) and pain often experienced by those with multiple sclerosis, says research out of the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine.

The findings, just published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, included a controlled trial with 30 participants to understand whether inhaled cannabis would help complicated cases where existing pharmaceuticals are ineffective or trigger adverse side effects.

MS is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system, which is made up of the brain and spinal cord.

The disease attacks the myelin, the protective covering wrapped around the nerves of the central nervous system, and — among other symptoms — can cause loss of balance, impaired speech, extreme fatigue, double vision and paralysis.

The average age of the research participants was 50 years with 63 per cent of the study population female.

More than half the participants needed walking aids and 20 per cent used wheelchairs.

Rather than rely on self-reporting by patients regarding their muscle spasticity — a subjective measure — health professionals rated each patient’s joints on the modified Ashworth scale, a common objective tool to evaluate intensity of muscle tone.

The researchers found that the individuals in the group that smoked cannabis experienced an almost one-third decrease on the Ashworth scale — 2.74 points from a baseline score of 9.3 — meaning spasticity improved, compared to the placebo group.

As well, pain scores decreased by about 50 per cent.

We saw a beneficial effect of smoked cannabis on treatment-resistant spasticity and pain associated with multiple sclerosis among our participants,” says Dr. Jody Corey-Bloom of the university’s department of neuroscience.

To those familiar with medicinal cannabis research, the results are hardly surprising. After all, Sativex — an oral spray containing plant cannabis extracts — is already legal by prescription to treat MS-related symptoms in over a dozen countries, including Canada, Germany, Great Britain, New Zealand, and Spain. Further, long-term assessments of the drug indicate that in addition to symptom management, cannabinoids may also play a role in halting the course of the disease.

Nevertheless, the National MS Society — like the US government — shares little enthusiasm for cannabis medicine, stating, “Studies completed thus far have not provided convincing evidence that marijuana or its derivatives provide substantiated benefits for symptoms of MS.”

Patient advocacy organizations, like the MS Society, have a responsibility to represent the interests of their constituents and to advise practitioners regarding best treatment practices. Why then does this responsibility not extend to patients who use cannabis as an alternative treatment therapy or to those that might one day potentially benefit from its use?

NORML Blog, Marijuana Law Reform

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Cannabis’ Impact on Health Justifies Its Legalization, Not Its Criminal Prohibition

Posted on12. Nov, 2011 by .

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The theme of the November issue of the academic online journal CATO Unbound is “If Not Now, When? The Slow Rise of Marijuana Reform.”

I have the lead essay in the journal, which also features forthcoming contributions from NORML’s Executive Director Allen St. Pierre and other notable drug law reform advocates.

Below is an excerpt from my commentary, entitled, “Cannabis Impact on Health Justifies Its Legalization, Not Its Criminal Prohibition.”


CANNABIS’ IMPACT ON HEALTH JUSTIFIES ITS LEGALIZATION, NOT ITS CRIMINAL PROHIBITION

via CATO Unbound

In July 2011, the Obama Administration rebuffed an administrative petition filed by a coalition of public interest organizations, including NORML, which sought to reassess cannabis’ Schedule I status under federal law. Yet little if any scientific basis exists to justify the federal government’s present prohibitive stance, and there is ample scientific and empirical evidence to rebut it.

… Ultimately, … none of the potential health risks associated with the adult, responsible use of cannabis in any objective way justify the substance’s present Schedule I prohibitive status or legitimize the use of state and federal force to restrict consumers from engaging in the plant’s production, distribution, or consumption. Nor do they justify the Obama Administration’s present heavy-handed attempts to interfere with the rule of law in states that have enacted policies that diverge from that of the federal government’s.

The concerns raised by federal lawmakers and the present administration regarding the potential health implications of cannabis do not validate the drug’s continued criminalization. Just the opposite is true. There are numerous adverse health consequences associated with alcohol, tobacco, and prescription pharmaceuticals – all of which modern scientific inquiry has determined to be far more dangerous and costlier to society than cannabis – and it’s precisely because of these consequences that these products are legally regulated and their use is restricted to particular consumers and specific settings. Similarly, a pragmatic regulatory framework allowing for the limited legal use cannabis by adults would best mitigate the health risks associated with the drug’s use and abuse. At a minimum, this framework would require federal lawmakers to reschedule cannabis from its archaic and unscientific Schedule I prohibitive status. At best, such a scheme would demand that cannabis be ‘descheduled’ and removed the from the federal Controlled Substances Act altogether.

You can read my entire essay here.

Continue to check back often to the CATO Unbound website as several other essays on the topic, including a commentary by LEAP’s Norm Stamper, will be added to the site and discussed in the coming days.

NORML Blog, Marijuana Law Reform

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