Direct Action: NIDA “extract product” inside scoop!

This episode, Chris and David reveal the real story behind NIDA “materials” from a professor who knows. Check the info box on ways to help us blow the wistle on the “extract-product” study.
Contact Health Canada and let them know what you think of the NIDA Schwag Invasion.
[email protected]
Date: Thu, 31 Oct 2002 00:28:21 -0500
From: Matthew W. Johnson
Subject: Info on NIDA marijuana

Mr. Malmo-Levine,

I’m a graduate student studying behavioral pharmacology and training in a NIDA funded research lab (and funded by a NIDA fellowship). I’ve been finding your coverage, with Chris Bennett, right on target concerning the NIDA marijuana to be used in the Health Canada study. I teach a collge class in psychopharmacology and tell my students that every drug supplied by NIDA is pharmaceutical grade and top potency, but that is the opposite case for cannabis. Quite a strange situation. Recently I showed a picture of the NIDA weed on a PowerPoint presentation and was amused at the gasps I heard from the students as they saw a pile of seeds and stems that they wouldn’t buy on the street! I tell my students always to be skeptical of the findings conducted with this stuff. The research community would be well advised to listen more to the medical cannabis community and cannabis community in general. Most NIDA researchers wouldn’t know an indica versus a sativa if it hit them in the face.

I thought you might be interested in a bit of evidence I picked up. At a 2001 conference (called the College on Problems of Drug Dependence, which is the big conference of NIDA funded researchers mostly) I had the occasion to chat with a rather well know and respected NIDA funded researcher whose present study involved smoked marijuana administration. I asked her how the potency was ‘standardized’ and she said that the NIDA marijuana had the THC extracted and then artificially added. She didn’t mention other cannabinoids.

I have since tried to find out more information about this ‘research grade’ marijuana and have little information. I can only assume that what she said was correct, which is infuriating. We have good scientific evidence that cannabidiol and other cannabinoids have both direct effects and interactions with effects from dela9THC. For example, we know cannabidiol to have an anti-anxiety effect (THC has an anxiety producing effect – wonder why people on Marinol THC freak out?) We also know that there are at least 2 types of cannabinoid receptors and at least two natural cannabinoid neurotransmitters in our bodies, differentially affected by different cannabinoids, but we are still in our infancy in terms of understanding how this complex system works. Given this lack of knowledge, it doesn’t make any sense to study anything but the quality bud which has been found to be helpful from the folks who know. You are correct in not letting them use “standardization” as an excuse. There are plenty of quality inbreed strains of cannabis that have less variability in constituents than does NIDA weed, especially when grown under good organic conditions and producing quality sensi. GW Pharmaceuticals has used standardized high quality Amsterdam-breed plants in the UK for their clinical trials of cannabis extract. The “standardization” issue is a straw man. The real point is the NIDA weed is very week less likely to show benficial results, so is very much in the prohibitionist USA’s interest to supply it, as you have pointed out…

-Matt Johnson
Department of Psychology &
Human Behavioral Pharmacology Lab
University of Vermont

More Health Canada runaround

Hi Chris,
Here are the answers to your previous questions.

1)In response we ask Health Canada if the Hiring of NIDA researcher
Professor Billy Martin, is being done in an attempt to set a precedent that
there is no medical marijuana, thus reversing the Parker vs Regina decision
that required Health Canada to come up with workable regulations for the
distribution of Medical Marijuana?

No. Contrary to suggestions in the media, the Government of Canada remains
committed to its marijuana for medical purposes program, which takes a
compassionate approach to Canadians who suffer from serious medical
conditions while, at the same time, pursuing a sound research agenda.
Professor Billy Martin, Ph.D. is recognized as a leading expert in the
field of marihuana research and has been retained by Health Canada to
testify as an expert witness in a case now before the courts. Research into
alternate forms of delivery for medical marijuana is part of Health
Canada’s Medical Marijuana Research Program.

2)Considering that so little is known about the quality of NIDA cannabis,
the chemical differences between it and all other strains of cannabis, the
fact we do not even know whether the THC contained in it is from cannabis
flowers or chemically extracted solutions, or even how it is grown,
wouldn’t it be advisable for Health Canada to wait for the PPS cannabis to
be “ready in time for the CRIT study” before spending the tax-payers money
on a “proprietary” cannabis product – a product that Canadians are not
allowed to know about?

At the time CRIT sought regulatory approval for the trial, the material
produced by PPS was not available.

Use of the NIDA material will mean that results of the study will be
obtained earlier than if CRIT had changed their protocol to include
material produced by PPS. Health Canada has significant knowledge about he
quality of the NIDA cannabis. However, this information is the property of
NIDA and we are not free to distribute it.

As previously stated, a scientific study of a drug substance requires,
among other things, that the substance used in the research must have a
consistent and predictable potency, must be free of contamination, and must
be available in sufficient amounts to support the needs of the study. The
material produced by NIDA that will be used in the CRIT study has been
reviewed and evaluated by Health Canada and received regulatory approval.
The material produced by PPS will receive the same regulatory approval
before use in clinical research.

3) Considering the NIDA cannabis growing and regulating techniques are
secret “proprietary” information, why is PPS so open with their own
information regarding the medical cannabis they grow, and wouldn’t it be
better to use cannabis with known background information rather than
cannabis of unknown quality? Why is it that in order that it be medicine it
must first be “secret property”?

See answer to Question 2. As stated above, Health Canada has full
knowledge of the NIDA product, but can not disclose any details as this
information is proprietary.

4) Considering the fact that the Senate report has many references to
“Compassion Club” standards being superior to NIDA standards, how can you
convince Canadians that these tests aren’t being conducted with an inferior
unnatural cannabis product – a product even the Senate is suspicious of –
and thus meant to fail?

See answer to Question 2.

The actual trial is being carried out by the Community Research Initiative
of Toronto (CRIT), which is a charitable, non-profit organisation with a
mandate to promote, facilitate, and conduct community-based HIV/AIDS
research. CRIT obtained regulatory approval from Health Canada, as well as
approval from the Research Ethics Board of St.Michael’s Hospital in order
to proceed with this trial. These approvals were based on a protocol that
included the use of NIDA material.