New York Times (“Seeking the Facts on Medical Marijuana“) did an interview with the Canadian Consortium for the Investigation of Cannabinoids‘s Director Dr. Ware. He is also the director of clinical research of the Alan Edwards Pain Management Unit of McGill University Health Center.
So much of what we knew about the drug was anecdotal. Some of it was folkloric. My idea was to listen to the patients’ stories and put them to a clinical evaluation.
He states that as far back as 1999, certain facts about cannabis was already well known.
- We certainly knew that cannabinoids were analgesic in animal models.
- There were case reports floating around of people with multiple sclerosis who’d been helped.
- In California, people with H.I.V. were using it for appetite stimulation, nausea and pain.
- Cancer patients sometimes used it to curb nausea from chemotherapy.
- Since (1999), there have been at least 15 good-quality trials around the world.
- Cannabinoids are reported to help with H.I.V.-associated neuropathy, traumatic neuropathy, multiple sclerosis, pain from diabetes.
- There have also been a few small studies on fibromyalgia and PTSD.
Dr. Ware notes another significant point…
When you talk about translational medicine, a drug usually moves from “bench to clinic.” But cannabis has had this unique trajectory: The patients were using it on their own, and then you had these papers, often based on a few case studies. And sometimes, you had later trials which led to drugs — like with H.I.V. patients’ using cannabis, which led to Marinol.
This is an astonishing statement about the Federal Prohibition on cannabis; it is cruel and inhumane. And now that legalization is supported by the majority of Americans, it is also against the will of the people (thus UNAMERICAN).
The good doctor states:
Why do you think cannabis use has been generally so under-researched?
The fundamental answer is that the illegality of the drug has stigmatized most research. In Canada, people are sometimes afraid because of the perception that they are working with illegal substances, even when that’s no longer the case.
In the United States, it’s a different matter, because on the federal level, cannabis is listed as a Schedule I drug, like heroin. That means that the medical community is quite restricted in gaining access to research materials.
At the same time, there are more than 20 states where medical marijuana, to differing degrees, is legal. However, the plants grown in Colorado may be quite different from those grown elsewhere. Moreover, the medically eligible conditions vary from state to state.
This lack of standardization has been another factor making research difficult, because when you’re talking about cannabis in one state and cannabis in another, you may not be talking about the same thing.
There is so much evidence that cannabis alleviates the suffering of patients, and may even cure some of them. The current laws of the land do not even recognize the potential medical benefits…they don’t recognize the patients or their suffering. Sound absurd but no matter the original intent of the Prohibitionists, the effect has been inhumane and cruel.
It’s time for us to fix what is broken.