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  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director May 18, 2017

    Medical marijuanaInhaled cannabis is effective and well-tolerated in patients with Tourette’s Syndrome, according to clinical data published online ahead of print in the Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience.

    A team of researchers at the University of Toronto retrospectively assessed the safety and efficacy of inhaled cannabis in 19 TS patients.

    Researchers reported, “All study participants experienced clinically significant symptom relief,” including including reductions in obsessive-compulsive symptoms, impulsivity, anxiety, irritability, and rage outbursts. Eighteen of 19 patients experienced decreased tic severity. Cannabis was “generally well tolerated” by study subjects.

    They concluded: “Overall, these study participants experienced substantial improvements in their symptoms. This is particularly striking given that almost all participants had failed at least one anti-tic medication trial. … In conclusion, cannabis seems to be a promising treatment option for tics and associated symptoms.”

    Placebo controlled data has previously determined that oral THC dosing also improves tics and obsessive-compulsive behavior in TS patients. However, patients utilizing inhaled cannabis have generally shown greater overall improvement.

    An abstract of the study, “Preliminary evidence on cannabis effectiveness and tolerability for adults with Tourette Syndrome,” is online here.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director July 5, 2012

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

    The use of cannabis and cannabinoids appears to mitigate symptoms associated with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), according to a new review of clinical and preclinical evidence published online in the scientific journal Drug Testing and Analysis.

    An international team of investigators from Germany, the United States, and the United Kingdom reported that the use of cannabis to “dramatically reduced” PTSD symptoms in a single 19-year-old male patient.

    Authors reported: “In the case report presented in this review, the patient displayed a grave pathology involving anxiety, dissociation and heavy flashbacks as a consequence of PTSD. … The patient stated that he found cannabis more useful than lorazepam. … It is evident from the case history that the patient experienced reduced stress, less involvement with flashbacks and a significant decrease of anxiety.

    Authors further cited “accumulating clinical and preclinical evidence that cannabinoids may mitigate some major symptoms associated with PTSD.”

    They concluded: “Cannabis may dampen the strength or emotional impact of traumatic memories through synergistic mechanisms that might make it easier for people with PTSD to rest or sleep and to feel less anxious and less involved with flashback memories. … Evidence is increasingly accumulating that cannabinoids might play a role in fear extinction and anti-depressive effects. It is concluded that further studies are warranted in order to evaluate the therapeutic potential of cannabinoids in PTSD.”

    Last year, administrators at the United States Department of Health and Human Services, National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) blocked investigators at the University of Arizona at Phoenix from conducting an FDA-approved, placebo-controlled clinical trial to evaluate the use of cannabis in 50 patients with PTSD.

    Under federal law, any clinical trial evaluations involving cannabis must receive NIDA approval because the agency is the only source of legal cannabis for FDA-approved research purposes. In 2010, a spokesperson for the agency told The New York Times: “[O]ur focus is primarily on the negative consequences of marijuana use. We generally do not fund research focused on the potential beneficial medical effects of marijuana.”

  • by Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director May 25, 2012

    May 25, 2012

    Dear NORML supporters in AZ,

    Good news!

    The Arizona Department of Health Services (azdhs.gov) who administers the medical cannabis program is apparently soliciting information on peer-reviewed research for the efficacious use of cannabis for four new conditions for consideration of including on the list of conditions acceptable for use under the official program.

    Those four conditions under consideration are:

    *Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

    *Migraines

    *Depression

    *Generalized Anxiety Order

    The administrator, Will Humble, posted to the AZDHS blog on May 24th, 2012 that on “Friday afternoon” (May 25th), they are soliciting public comments both in person and online.

    The link to the blog post of May 24th:

    http://directorsblog.health.azdhs.gov/?p=2638

    The link to what Mr. Humble calls the “online comment tool” is:

    http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/VFSKND7

    Below is a news article from AZ affirming this effort that pushed on the wires late last night.**

    Medical cannabis patients in a number of other states have been able to expand the scope of these medical cannabis programs, but only with active participation in the political process.

    If you, a loved one or friend in AZ suffers from PTSD, migraine headaches, depression or anxiety, please take the opportunity afforded right now by AZDHS to let your public officials know that you support these pragmatic improvements to AZ’s nascent medical cannabis program.

    Kind regards and thanks for your help and support,

    -Allen St. Pierre
    Executive Director
    NORML
    Washington, D.C.
    director@norml.org

    **Mojave Daily News

    Arizona considering new uses for medical marijuana

    Published: Friday, May 25, 2012 1:12 AM MDT

    PHOENIX (AP) — Arizona is considering requests to expand its fledgling medical marijuana program to allow use of the drug for an array of conditions, including post-traumatic stress syndrome and migraines, beyond those allowed under the law approved by voters two years ago.

    The Department of Health Services, which is required under the 2010 law to consider requests to expand coverage, holds a public hearing Friday on the first batch of requests.

    Besides PTSD and migraines, the requests for covered conditions include depression and general anxiety disorder. The law already permits medical marijuana use for such medical reasons as cancer, glaucoma, AIDS, chronic pain, muscle spasms and hepatitis C.

    Even as the state considers expanding the program, it is still implementing a key part of the law.

    Friday is the deadline to submit applications to operate medical marijuana dispensaries. Up to 126 dispensaries will be permitted statewide, but only one per designated area. Those typically are either rural towns or parts of metropolitan areas.

    The process of awarding licenses to dispensaries that will sell marijuana to users was delayed by Gov. Jan Brewer’s reluctance to implement that part of the law.

    The state has awarded medical marijuana user cards to more than 28,000 people. Chronic pain is the most common medical condition, though users can have more than one. Most of the users also got permission to grow marijuana until there is a dispensary in their area.

    Arizona is among 17 states that have enacted laws allowing medical marijuana use, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

    States’ programs vary, and some already cover the additional medical conditions being considered by Arizona. For example, New Mexico allows medical marijuana use for PTSD, while California’s covered “serious medical conditions” include migraines. Meanwhile, Colorado’s decade-old program has denied petitions to add more than a dozen conditions, including PTSD, hepatitis C and depression.

    Marijuana is still illegal under federal law, but the Veterans Affairs Department in 2011 issued guidelines that permit patients treated at VA hospitals and clinics to use medical marijuana in states where it is legal. The guidelines don’t allow VA doctors to prescribe medical marijuana.

    Consideration of possible expansion of Arizona’s medical marijuana program follows efforts by the state to crack down on early abuses.

    State medical regulatory boards already have disciplined doctors for failing to adequately consider patients’ needs and conditions before recommending medical marijuana.

    The state Medical Board in February reprimanded one physician who wrote certifications for 483 patients without making required checks of a controlled-substance database.

    The Naturopathic Physicians Medical Board suspended another doctor’s license for failing to adequately examine patients and document their conditions before certifying them for medical marijuana.

    In advance of Friday’s hearing, Health Services Director Will Humble said he is most interested in peer-reviewed scientific studies, not personal testimony.

    “To me, it’s really about presenting good science,” Humble said. “To me, that’s the compelling information that we need.”

    Humble’s department has contracted with the University of Arizona to identify research relevant to the requests for expanded coverage. “I’m not aware of very much published literature to support adding those,” he said.

    Humble said he feels a need to be cautious about adding conditions because he doesn’t want patients to forego traditional medical treatment to opt for questionable benefits from marijuana.

    And he said Arizona’s law doesn’t allow the agency to remove a condition once it’s listed, so it would be troubling if scientifically reliable information later surfaces that undermines the value of approving medical marijuana for a particular condition.

    Brewer last year balked at allowing dispensaries, saying she feared state employees could face federal criminal prosecution. She later acquiesced after a judge ruled the state had no discretion implementing the dispensary portion of the law.

    The state already had received about 200 dispensary applications through close-of-business Wednesday, and Humble said he expected many more before Friday’s deadline.

    Copyright © 2012 – Mohave Daily News

     

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director December 29, 2009

    UPDATE!!! In a 12/29 e-mail communication with the San Diego Union-Tribune‘s Newsroom Operations Manager (in reference to their coverage below), she pledges: “I will follow up with our online staff right now. We will get it corrected or taken down.” Yet, as of 11am pst today the story still appears online in its original form. Those who live in southern California may also wish to voice their opinion at: http://www.signonsandiego.com/contactus/.

    For anyone who missed the worldwide corporate media’s hysterical anti-pot headlines last week, here’s a sampling:

    Cannabis more damaging to adolescent brains than previously known
    via Emax Health
    “New research shows that teens who consume cannabis daily can suffer anxiety and depression. Smoking marijuana can have long-term irreversible effects on adolescent brains, and is more harmful to teens than previously known.”

    Teen marijuana use affects brain permanently: study
    via CBC News
    “The findings suggest daily marijuana use by teens can cause depression and anxiety, and have an irreversible effect on the brain.”

    Pot damage on teens worse than thought
    via UPI wire services
    “Daily consumption of marijuana in teens can cause depression and anxiety, and have irreversible long-term effect on the brain, Canadian researchers say.”

    Cannabis brain damage worse in teens than thought: study
    via The Canadian Press
    “The effects of daily cannabis use on teenage brains is worse than originally thought, and the long-term effects appear to be irreversible, new research from McGill University suggests.”

    Sounds scary, huh? It’s meant to. Only there’s three serious problems with the mainstream media’s alarmist coverage.

    1) No adolescents — or for that matter, any human beings whatsoever — actually participated in the study.

    2) No actual cannabis was consumed in the study.

    3) No permanent brain damage was reported in the study.

    Don’t believe me? Well then, check out the actual source of the headlines yourself.

    Chronic exposure to cannabinoids during adolescence but not during adulthood impairs emotional behaviour and monoaminergic neurotransmission
    via PubMed

    “We tested this hypothesis by administering the CB(1) receptor agonist WIN55,212-2, once daily for 20 days to adolescent and adult rats. … Chronic adolescent exposure but not adult exposure to low (0.2 mg/kg) and high (1.0 mg/kg) doses led to depression-like behaviour in the forced swim and sucrose preference test, while the high dose also induced anxiety-like consequences in the novelty-suppressed feeding test. … These (findings) suggest that long-term exposure to cannabinoids during adolescence induces anxiety-like and depression-like behaviours in adulthood and that this may be instigated by serotonergic hypoactivity and noradrenergic hyperactivity.”

    To summarize: Investigators administered daily doses of a highly potent synthetic cannabinoid receptor agonist WIN,55,212-2 to both adolescent rats and adult rats for 20 days. Days following their exposure, researchers documented altered serotonin production in younger rats. (Why investigators presumed that the change in serotonin production would be permanent I have no idea. After the initial 20-day waiting period, researchers do not appear to have tested the rats’ serotonin levels ever again.) Researchers also documented supposed depression-like and anxiety-like behavior in certain rats, based on various elaborate animal models and preference tests.

    Yet somehow based on this speculative preclinical evidence, the mainstream media — in unison — proclaimed:

    Reefer badness
    via San Diego Tribune

    “A study of Canadian teenagers … found that smoking the illicit drug is harder on young brains than originally thought. Writing in the journal Neurobiology of Disease, researchers at McGill University in Montreal said daily consumption of cannabis in teens can cause significant depression and anxiety and have an irreversible long-term effect on the brain.”

    In truth, the purported ‘study’ never said anything of the sort!

    So why the does the MSM consistently get the story wrong when it comes to pot? You can check out my previous thoughts on the issue here.

  • by Russ Belville, NORML Outreach Coordinator October 18, 2009

    First it was Marie Claire magazine with their “Stiletto Stoners”, followed by a sympathetic follow-up on the NBC Today Show. Now Elle Magazine prints 2,758 words from another Stiletto Stoner who has discovered that cannabis is a superior medication for her generalized anxiety disorder than the Zoloft and Paxil her doctors had recommended.

    (Elle Magazine) A thimbleful is all it takes. After a day’s work, I pinch off a small amount of marijuana and put it in a steel-tooth grinder. The flowers, covered in tiny white diamonds of THC, release a piney scent when crushed. I turn on the TV, and instead of taking a glass of wine with my evening news, I take out my vaporizer and set it on the coffee table.

    One could say I diagnosed myself in high school, when I recognized my symptoms in a psychology textbook. Finally, I had “generalized anxiety disorder” to describe the dread I felt of some future event that was overtaking my present. I usually sensed the panic attacks first in my chest. Then my vision would start to go to static, and my body would crumple to the floor. There I’d ride it out until the adrenaline ran its course.

    Soon after I started to suffer several of these episodes a day (and so often that fear of another one kept me indoors), I sought out a psychiatrist. I told her about the times I’d be driving and convince myself that I was about to spin off the road—the looping, invented terrors. A little talk therapy and a prescription later, I discovered that Zoloft only exacerbated my panic and depression. I stopped taking the little white pills and cut out caffeine instead; I exercised and practiced meditation. For years I abstained from medication, and aside from the occasional pot smoking with friends, I swore off drugs entirely.

    About four years ago, another psychiatrist put me on lithium for what he described as my “Paxil-induced hypomania.” When it made me violently sick, I decided I needed to replace pills altogether and turn to a regimen that relied on what was, to me, the only proven drug. I headed down to the five-block stretch of marijuana advocacy groups known as “Oaksterdam.” There, I explained to an understanding doctor, wearing Lennon glasses and cargo shorts, that marijuana eased the symptoms of what studies showed and I knew to be a genetic disorder. (My two younger brothers have been diagnosed as bipolar, and my grandmother suffered from anxiety and depression.)

    The writer continues by explaining how she is able to keep her job and be productive thanks to marijuana, and that her friends that use marijuana are all successful productive people she’s proud to know. She worries about the legal complexities, especially how the California Ragingwire decision still allows employers to fire people for their medical use.

    From a media standpoint, I believe when you’re having women speak favorably of marijuana in Marie Claire, the Today Show, and Elle Magazine, you’re winning the hearts and minds.