Researchers Find Study of Medical Marijuana Discouraged

Despite the Obama administration’s tacit support of more liberal state medical marijuana laws, the federal government still discourages research into the medicinal uses of smoked marijuana.

That may be one reason that — even though some patients swear by it — there is no good scientific evidence that legalizing marijuana’s use provides any benefits over current therapies.

Lyle E. Craker, a professor of plant sciences at the University of Massachusetts, has been trying to get permission from federal authorities for nearly nine years to grow a supply of the plant that he could study and provide to researchers for clinical trials.

But the Drug Enforcement Administration — more concerned about abuse than potential benefits — has refused, even after the agency’s own administrative law judge ruled in 2007 that Dr. Craker’s application should be approved, and even after Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. in March ended the Bush administration’s policy of raiding dispensers of medical marijuana that comply with state laws.

“All I want to be able to do is grow it so that it can be tested,” Dr. Craker said in comments echoed by other researchers.

Marijuana is the only major drug for which the federal government controls the only legal research supply and for which the government requires a special scientific review.

“The more it becomes clear to people that the federal government is blocking these studies, the more people are willing to defect by using politics instead of science to legalize medicinal uses at the state level,” said Rick Doblin, executive director of a nonprofit group dedicated to researching psychedelics for medical uses.

On Monday, his last full day in office, Gov. Jon S. Corzine of New Jersey signed a measure passed by the Legislature last week that made the state the 14th in the nation to legalize the use of marijuana to help with chronic illnesses.

The measure was pushed by a loose coalition of patients suffering from chronic illnesses like Lou Gehrig’s disease and multiple sclerosis who said marijuana eased their symptoms.

Studies have shown convincingly that marijuana can relieve nausea and improve appetite among cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. Studies also prove that marijuana can alleviate the aching and numbness that patients with H.I.V. and AIDS suffer.

There are strong hints that marijuana may ameliorate some of the neurological problems associated with such degenerative diseases as multiple sclerosis, said Dr. Igor Grant, director of the Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research at the University of California, San Diego.

But there is no good evidence that legalizing the smoking of marijuana is needed to provide these effects. The Food and Drug Administration in 1985 approved Marinol, a prescription pill of marijuana’s active ingredient, T.H.C. Although a few small-scale studies done decades ago suggest that smoked marijuana may prove effective when Marinol does not, no conclusive research has confirmed this finding.

And Marinol is no panacea. There are at least three medicines that in most patients provide better relief from nausea and vomiting than Marinol, studies show.

Buddy Coolen, 31, of Warwick, R.I., said he tried or continued to use some of those medicines. “Smoking for me is as good as any medicine I have,” he said.

Eight years ago, Mr. Coolen contracted gastroparesis and cyclic vomiting syndrome. He lost 50 pounds and, despite being 5 foot 11, weighed 120 pounds.

His doctors gave him myriad anti-emetics, many of which he still takes. They also prescribed Marinol, but it did not work for him, Mr. Coolen said.

“My stepdad is old school and was really against marijuana, but then he saw what it did for me and totally changed his way of thinking,” Mr. Coolen said.

Some doctors and law enforcement officials say such anecdotes should not drive public policy. Dr. Eric Braverman, medical director of a multispecialty clinic in Manhattan, said legalizing marijuana was unnecessary and dangerous since Marinol provided the medicinal effects of the plant. “Our society will deteriorate,” he said.

Patients who call Dr. Braverman’s clinic are, when put on hold, told that the clinic may prescribe supplements and other alternative treatments that have even less scientific justification than marijuana. Dr. Braverman said such alternatives rendered marijuana unnecessary, but his embrace of alternatives is a reminder that medicine has long been driven by more than science.

About 20 percent of drug prescriptions are written for uses that are not approved by federal drug regulators; about half of the nation’s adults regularly take supplements; herbal and homeopathic remedies are popular.

The nation’s growing embrace of medical marijuana has stemmed from these alternative traditions.

The University of Mississippi has the nation’s only federally approved marijuana plantation. If they wish to investigate marijuana, researchers must apply to the National Institute on Drug Abuse to use the Mississippi marijuana and must get approvals from a special Public Health Service panel, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Food and Drug Administration.

But federal officials have repeatedly failed to act on marijuana research requests in a timely manner or have denied them, according to a 2007 ruling by an administrative law judge at the Drug Enforcement Administration. While refusing to approve a second marijuana producer, the government allowed the University of Mississippi to supply Mallinckrodt, a drug maker, with enough marijuana to eventually produce a generic version of Marinol.

“As the National Institute on Drug Abuse, our focus is primarily on the negative consequences of marijuana use,” said Shirley Simson, a spokeswoman for the drug abuse institute, known as NIDA. “We generally do not fund research focused on the potential beneficial medical effects of marijuana.”

The Drug Enforcement Administration said it was just following NIDA’s lead. “D.E.A. has never denied a research registration for marijuana and/or THC if NIDA approved the protocols for that individual entity,” a supervisory special agent, Gary Boggs, said by e-mail.

Researchers investigating LSD, Ecstasy and other illegal drugs can use any of a number of suppliers licensed by the Drug Enforcement Administration, Dr. Doblin said. And if a researcher wants to use a variety of marijuana that the University of Mississippi does not grow — and there are many with differing medicinal properties — they are out of luck, Dr. Doblin said.

Law enforcement tends to emphasize the abuse potential of medicines without regard to their positive effects. Bureaucratic battles between the D.E.A. and the F.D.A. over the availability of narcotics — highly effective but addictive medicines — have gone on for decades.

So medical marijuana may never have good science underlying its use. But for patients in desperate need, the ethics of providing access to the drug are clear, said Dr. Richard Payne, a professor of medicine and divinity and director of the Institute for Care on the End of Life at Duke Divinity School.

“It’s not a great drug,” he said, “but what’s the harm?”

– Article from The New York Times.

Comments

6 Comments

  1. Anonymous on

    Not everyone in the USA agrees with the stupid marijuana laws. For you to state that he should be hailed for sending idiots to hijack two planes and kill 3,000 innocent people is horrible! So fuck you, and that coward Bin Laden.

  2. Anonymous on

    Drug Companies Profiteering on Swine Flu Hoax

    Pharmaceutical companies organized a campaign of panic

    Officials profiteered, including CDC head from swine flu hoax, Rumsfeld from bird flu hoax

    H1N1 swine flu hoax falls apart at the seams
    by Mike Adams
    Editor of NaturalNews.com
    http://www.naturalnews.com/027984_swine_flu_vaccines.html
    The great swine flu hoax of 2009 is now falling apart at the seams as one country after another unloads hundreds of millions of doses of unused swine flu vaccines. No informed person wants the injection anymore, and the entire fear-based campaign to promote the vaccines has now been exposed as outright quackery and propaganda.
    Even doctors are now calling the pandemic a complete hoax. As reported on FoxNews, Dr. Wolfgang Wodarg, a leading health authority in Europe, says that drug companies “organized a ‘campaign of panic’ to put pressure on the World Health Organization (WHO) to declare a pandemic. He believes it is ‘one of the greatest medicine scandals of the century,’ and he has called for an inquiry.”
    H1N1 swine flu was never dangerous, and it never should have been escalated to a level-six pandemic in the first place. It was all a big marketing scam whose purpose was to simply sell vaccines.
    And it worked! Big Pharma made out with billions of dollars in profits for a useless vaccine that’s now being dumped by the truck load. These vaccines were, of course, paid for with taxpayer dollars, making the Great Swine Flu Hoax of 2009 nothing more than an elaborate financial scam whose goal was to transfer wealth from the People to the shareholders of Big Pharma.
    In just the fourth quarter of 2009, GlaxoSmithKline shipped $1.4 billion worth of vaccines.
    A bailout for Big Pharma
    Wall Street hucksters have nothing on Big Pharma, the CDC and the WHO, all of which conspired to mislead the public and generate irrational fear in order to make money selling people vaccine shots they never needed in the first place.
    Actually, getting the vaccine may harm your health. Outspoken Dr. Wodarg even says that the full extent of the damage from the insufficiently-tested vaccines may not be known for years. “The vaccine developed by Novartis was produced in a bioreactor from cancerous cells, a technique that had never been used until now,” he says.
    Cancelling vaccine orders
    The Swine Flu hoax has fizzled out, and countries like Greece, France and the UK have cancelled orders for vaccines that they now realize won’t be needed. But even the fizzling of this hoax doesn’t mean it was a failure from the point of view of Big Pharma.
    The swine flu hoax was a huge success not only for drug company profits, but also for certain influential individuals including Dr Julie Gerberding, former head of the CDC who has now accepted a high-paying job as the president of Merck’s global vaccine operations.
    One minute you’re running the CDC, warning the country about a pandemic while urging everybody to get vaccinated, and the next minute you’re running the for-profit vaccine division of the world’s largest drug company. Amazing how that works, huh?
    Read full article:
    http://www.naturalnews.com/027984_swine_flu_vaccines.html
    .
    Indian Country Today and the bird flu and swine flu hoaxes
    By Brenda Norrell
    Censored News
    http://www.bsnorrell.blogspot.com
    Censored News is published by news reporter Brenda Norrell, censored and terminated by Indian Country Today, where she served as a longterm staff reporter.
    One of Norrell’s final articles in 2006 was on how Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s profiteering from the sale of Tamiflu during the bird flu hoax.
    Indian Country Today editors distorted the content of the article by deleting the information on Rumsfeld’s profiteering and changed the article so it appeared as an advertisement for Tamiflu. It was published with Norrell’s name on it, over her objections.
    Rumsfeld profiteered from the royalties from Tamiflu sales as states in the US, including California, stockpiled Tamiflu.
    Today, the Oneida Indian Nation in New York, which owns Indian Country Today, is promoting the swine flu hoax.
    The uncensored bird flu article 2006:
    http://bsnorrell.tripod.com/id73.html
    Posted by [email protected] at 9:20 PM 1 comments Links to this post
    question?, whats a indains fav red wine? answer Mad dog 20/20. Whats a fav. white wine of the white man? answer; “I want a casino too!”

  3. DISGUSTED on

    If the law makers don’t legalize the country will go down the tube. THE PLANET COULD BE SAVED FROM MARIJUANA. I hope the DEA blows up their own Meth lab. Hail Osama Bin Laden for attacking the worlds REAL terrorists known as the USA!!!!

  4. Joe on

    Marijuana is the tree of life that god promise us.
    It`s a medicine and it`s a fibers can be made into everything we need to sustain life. We can build houses with hemp we can make clothing, foods, plastics, fuel for energy and run cars, it’s a protein plant.
    This is the tree of life.

  5. joe on

    The politicians go into office on the pretend that they will work for the people the tax payers. But once hired and in office the politicians are in the pockets of big corporations who pay $$$$$ them off so they can have an advantage over smaller and civilize corporations and control the people the tax payers who are told that we live in a free and democratic country.

  6. Jackaroo on

    “Law enforcement tends to emphasize the abuse potential of medicines without regard to their positive effects”. This is the exact reason law enforcement should stay out of the way of law reform! I have seen far too often where law enforcement states what the laws should be! And besides that, their so-called “abuse potential” for cannabis is based on 70+ years of lies and propaganda!