Marijuana May Extend Life Expectancy Of Lou Gehrig’s Disease Patients, Study Says

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director May 19, 2010

    [Editor’s note: This post is excerpted from this week’s forthcoming NORML weekly media advisory. To have NORML’s media advisories delivered straight to your in-box, sign up for NORML’s free e-zine here.]

    Cannabis therapy may reduce symptoms and prolong survival in patients diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS aka Lou Gehrig’s disease), according to a scientific review published online last week by the American Journal of Hospice & Palliative Medicine.

    Investigators at the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle and Temple University in Pennsylvania reviewed preclinical and anecdotal data indicating that marijuana appears to treat symptoms of ALS as well as moderate the course of the disease.

    Authors wrote: “Preclinical data indicate that cannabis has powerful antioxidative, anti-inflammatory, and neuroprotective effects. … Cannabis also has properties applicable to symptom management of ALS, including analgesia, muscle relaxation, bronchodilation, saliva reduction, appetite stimulation, and sleep induction. … From a pharmacological perspective, cannabis is remarkably safe with realistically no possibility of overdose or frank physical addiction. There is a valid, logical, scientifically grounded rationale to support the use of cannabis in the pharmacological management of ALS.”

    They added, “Based on the currently available scientific data, it is reasonable to think that cannabis might significantly slow the progression of ALS, potentially extending life expectancy and substantially reducing the overall burden of the disease.”

    Investigators concluded, “There is an overwhelming amount of preclinical and clinical evidence to warrant initiating a multicenter randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of cannabis as a disease-modifying compound in ALS.”

    Writing in the March 2004 issue of the journal Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis & Other Motor Neuron Disorders, investigators at the California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco reported that the administration of THC both before and after the onset of ALS symptoms staved disease progression and prolonged survival in animals compared to untreated controls. To date, however, no clinical trials have assessed the use of marijuana or any of the plant’s cannabinoids on patients diagnosed with ALS.

    Lou Gehrig’s Disease is a fatal, progressive neurodegenerative disorder that is characterized by the selective loss of motor neurons in the spinal cord, brain stem, and motor cortex. An estimated 30,000 Americans are living with ALS, which often arises spontaneously and afflicts otherwise healthy adults. An estimated 70 to 80 percent of patients with ALS die within three to five years following the onset of disease symptoms.

    43 Responses to “Marijuana May Extend Life Expectancy Of Lou Gehrig’s Disease Patients, Study Says”

    1. freedom says:

      So as the studies and evidents piles up , drug warriors and the ONDCP are looking more and more like ….well liars terrorizing people for no good reason. Still we are tyranized by these thugs , time to kick the bastards out…all of them!

    2. Anonymous says:


    3. Deborah Carlyle says:

      has there been any studies that link cannabis and a seizure disorder? (epilepsy)


    4. Nic says:

      Here in the wilderness I have wondered

      What world do I live in?


      Imagine a world populated with people who are drug cops

      America was forged out of the ashes of Europe

      America is the Last Place of Sanctuary

      America must remain true to the vision of the founding fathers.

    5. Nic says:

      Awaiting moderation

      And wondering about my little soul


      If you have money

      Send it to NORML

      In The meantime

      Consider your place

      Tell me again that you you do not believe

      May I Pray For You

    6. Nic says:

      Open The Door

    7. Nic says:

      Sometimes I Wonder about

      The civilized population

      It is my opinion

      Good people embrace Eternal Places and Understanding


    8. randy nc says:

      Yes but what about the money that big pharms will lose if this mode of treatment becomes commonplace. You know that those employees have kids don’t you. What about those children!?!

    9. ckdk30 says:

      Another disease it possibly helps, Come on America!!! And I’m not talking to the people,they obviously know already but with the victorious win of Rand Paul only shows we as American’s will vote your ass out and vote someone in that is on the same page as THE PEOPLE.

    10. dirk krueger says:

      I have als and do not live anywhere where I could legally try this out. any suggestion would be helpful.

    11. John says:

      This is GREAT NEWS! I also saw today that NBC News reported that Cannabis can slow the growth of Breast Cancer!

      Keep these amazing stories coming!

    12. ray says:

      Cannabis can extend the life of ALS patients…ie, the Cathy Jordon story…nearly 20 extra years on just cannabis….I believe that you have info on her…http://www.youtube.com/user/mingovideo#p/f/21/OkzQAQqFUSs

    13. ray says:

      This will get you to the Cathy Jordon story….


    14. ZACK says:


    15. Delpart says:

      Again, another sign of the cannabinoid system having a positive roll in the human condition or indicative in treatment of severe illness.

      I keep coming across a prohibitionist argument about prescription drugs being a controlled therapy for the treatment of illness vs. cannabis. The ones used for ALS are scary btw. The idea goes that they know exact doses to give and it is a controlled level ingested per dose. That they know the exact outcomes of those drug’s impact on the body. That they are safer because of this? Whereas with the cannabis, the dosing is inaccurate and total guesswork. That there is no way to measure the impact of the effectiveness … ?

      I simply have to really wonder what some people know about modern science. A loved one of mine has gone through the mill with the prescription route for treating a serious illness. The doctors mean well I’m sure, but they guess at what doses and what medications to change over the course of years, not minutes, to affect a change. Even then, they have to constantly do guesswork while adjusting the drugs responses to the body and other drugs in the system in hopes of coming up with a solution. If cannabis were a solution, I would think being able to simply use more or less ad hoc in a day to treat the symptoms would make more sense than all the liver panels etc that she has had to endure taking this other route. The doctors even openly admit to the educated guesswork because: “No two people’s physiology is identical enough to have a predetermined outcome.”

      Even the diabetics I’ve known have rarely had instant results with s single trip to the doctor. They have to usually work for a year or more to “dial in” the right dosage on their medications, as well as diet monitoring/changes, etc to come up with a good solution.

      People convinced that modern science is a one stop shop that is 100% safe and accurate really need to wake up.

      They also like to argue that getting high is an unacceptable side effect. There are so freaking many drugs on the market that are non-narcotic for various treatments that have the the warning of “High” as a side effect. Even Lyrica for Fibro patients has it listed and is one of the most common reported effects. Of course it also has dozens of other worse common side effects listed. Many of which are the hallmark ones that people stereotype with cannabis, such as severe lethargy.

      I’m skeptical of just how much cannabis can do for a myriad of things to be sure, but that skeptic in me is what kept my eyes open to understanding that the system is broken. So many things that people used to scoff at are now common medical practice. Like low dose aspirin use for helping to regulate heart health. Various food intake to ensure healthier immune response, etc. At one point in time many of the ideas western medicine is practicing now were laughed at with the same vigor as cannabis hysterics we see now. Yet we refuse to simply allow testing on a scale of larger than 12 patients at a time … sad.

      I just hope that people keep pushing back and testing cannabis in the face of prohibition, like this “pre-clinical” study, to see what it can and cannot do for our “condition” as humans.

    16. Mike H says:

      “Marijuana May Extend Life Expectancy” by itself is most likely a true statement.

    17. korndawg says:

      I’m sure that there will be many more diseases and conditions that cannabis has a profound effect on,yet the government still thwarts research on it.Instead of prolonging and possibly even saving lives,they deny funding for research and prohibit a plant with unsurpassable medical potential,thereby costing the lives of many Americans.

    18. David says:

      yeah, it helps treat my suicidal tendencies so long as I’m not being tortured with ad nauseum through my window.

    19. David says:

      blah; smoke dope.

    20. Crissy says:

      The benefits of Marijuana are as endless as the stars in the universe. The government is scared and have labeled it refer madness instead of cocaine madness because they think they cannot financially benefit from it because you cannot tax a naturally growing plant. I think it’s pretty safe to say that when we ammend the bill and take this issue to the table that we will be more than willing to provide anuities to the cities and states that make it possible for us to all be happy and of course for businesses to pay their dues to stay in business just like everyone else. We have to make them see that just because passing the bill doesn’t include taxes in it, doesn’t mean anything close to our cities and states not getting paid too. In fact quite the contrary, I think the bill should include a small percentage to each city/state making it possible for us to function.

    21. Don_M says:

      I think there might be a plethora of good valid uses for marijuana, besides the obvious one (enjoyment). I’ve read that the Feds don’t allow scientists that would like to study it to do so without severe restrictions. As a result, the uses found have been limited which, ironically, allows the Feds to continue their argument that it doesn’t have many uses… If the Govt would just get out of the way, it just might turn out that some of the compounds in it could be part of the cure for cancer and alzheimer’s…

    22. Don_M says:

      I noticed that David (comment 18) mentioned that marijuana helped him with suicidal tendencies. That struck a nerve with me. I attribute the fact I am alive today with marijuana having helped me during a particularly disappointing time in my life (after getting laid off from work, with several hundred others, I lost almost everything I owned…). It is not possible for anyone to convince me that marijuana has no value and should stay illegal. I do belive it should be regulated in a manner similar to alcohol.

    23. Patrick Winchell says:

      I wonder if president Obama’s vocabulary will expand soon to include “legalization” because if scientific studies like these keep popping up he’s just going to look like a heartless pig. I bet if a member of his family got ALS he’d regulate cannabis, but that seems like an extreme price to pay for such an simple and easy decision.

    24. m friizle says:

      i think that if it is gonna help people with the disease that they are curse with live,just go ahead and legalize it.all the states puttin it into vote wanting to legalize it for medicinal purposes and open an opportunity to have jobs available and make the economy better. i have to say that this country has come to shit.I aint sayin that its all because of the drug tendencies and offenders(AKA DRUG DEALERS,FELONS,)ya know wits about what has to been done to prevent all of this maybe thats been going on in our united states. ya know we seemed to be doin alright with our jobs and employment till obamma came around.

    25. micheal caputo says:

      i’m a patient with a.l.s since 1998.i cosume it everyday.i believe it has slowed my condition.presently have licence to grow.but been trying to grow for people but seem to have barrier’s put up

    26. b rad says:

      Weed… The most dangerous substance known to man. Take it from me ppl I’m smart: Mix liqur with pills and smoke cigarettes. The more the better. And all you people with diseases and serious medical issues.. I feel so sorry for you…

    27. Juergen says:

      Well, I am a patient with several diseases, first of all chronic pain after a few injuries/accidents, first of all in my lumbar region. Since three years I am suffering now additionally from Lyme disease, with horrible debilitating symptoms. After the diagnosis I started with the intake every day two times of my home grown medicinal cannabis as an oily extract. Everything I can say now is that this plant is a cure and not a crime. None of the prescribed drugs has helped me so far, but Cannabis does without any annoying side effects.

      So why is this plant still forbidden? It even cures cancer!

    28. […] Marijuana May Extend Life Expectancy Of Lou Gehrig’s Disease Patients, Study Says […]

    29. Head Shops says:

      Thats so awesome! they need to put way more research in to medical marijuana

    30. Michael says:

      This is quite interesting that marijuana. I wonder when the lou gehrig’s patients will start using it as their other regular medicines.

    31. Ginger Snyder says:

      I have a dear friend with the disease for over 4 years now she has even had stem cell regeneration injections in her brain for the last year. With little improvement. She is confined to a wheelchair and has difficulty speaking similar to Cathy Jordan. The only thing that has helped her is marijuana. It is not legal nor does she have a license for it, does not matter what it has done is eliminated her pain and allowed her to eat meals. I feel the marijuana has prolonged her life and made her personal quality of living better. There is nothing you can say but thank God there is something that will work legal or not so be it. Otherwise, she would have already passed. Really great job you guys that run the government keep such a valuable asset away from the citizens you were sworn in to protect. You should be ashamed to be a politician. Legalize now!

    32. […] “Marijuana May Extend Life Expectancy Of Lou Gehrig’s Disease Patients, Study Says […]

    33. Honorato Echavez says:

      La Cucaracha, La Cucaracha, ya no puede caminar, porque no tiene, por le falta – marijuana que fumar.

      A Mexican song that marijuana extends the life of ALS.
      I am Filipino-American, in the Philippines they belive that too.

    34. Michael says:

      I am a 56 year old A.L.S. patient. The only drug that is available is Riluzole. I was given a prescription and had it sent to Costco as they are supposedly much cheaper. The Pharmacist called to say the 200 pills were $7000.00 for 200 pills. I was to take 2 a day. My $2080.00 a month SDI means I make too much money for any help. I did not get the pills. I grow my own relief and it does me a world of good.

    35. Bruce Repert says:

      Nature got it right.
      Look up what the cabinoid system is, and how it functions.
      No wonder I’m so flip pin happy & healthy!

      All’s well that ends well.
      Time for a real change, I’m sure my Relatives that fought for this Country, want Justice and Truth.
      Nixon and his administration new pot was good for you, in the 70’s. Nixon had the documents hidden, from the People.
      Time for a good change in America.

    36. It’s not just the THC that’s helping people, but the CBD’s that have an incredible benefit for those suffering with convulsive disorders.

    37. Vely says:

      I have a sister with ALS she’s been suffering from this disease for about 3 years now. We need help on how to help her out if anyone knows anything please let me know!!

    38. […] ALS, however, hasn’t gotten as much attention, and that’s the plight of ALS patients who use medical marijuana to slow the disease’s progression and alleviate their pain. Even though recreational marijuana is […]

    39. […] however, hasn’t gotten as much attention, and that’s the plight of ALS patients who use medical marijuana to slow the disease’s progression and alleviate their pain. Even though recreational […]

    40. raj says:

      My mom is suffering from ALS since last 3 year can any 1 let me know if marina really helps and in what quantity is it supposed to be given .plus help

    41. raj says:

      I shall like to correct marijuna

    42. […] your social media feeds, some people living with ALS say oil extracted from the cannabis plant is improving their symptoms. But, Georgia law prevents patients from using what many consider to be a reliable […]

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