NORML has recently posted online the fourth edition of its popular and comprehensive booklet, “Emerging Clinical Applications for Cannabis & Cannabinoids: A Review of the Recent Scientific Literature.”
Updated and revised for 2011, this report reviews approximately 200 newly published scientific studies assessing the safety and efficacy of marijuana and its compounds in the treatment and management of nineteen clinical indications: Alzheimer’s disease, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), chronic pain, diabetes mellitus, dystonia, fibromyalgia, gastrointestinal disorders, gliomas and other cancers, hepatitis C, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), hypertension, incontinence, methicillin-resistant Staphyloccus aureus (MRSA), multiple sclerosis, osteoporosis, pruritus, rheumatoid arthritis, sleep apnea, and Tourette’s syndrome.
Explains the report’s lead author, NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano: “The conditions profiled in this report were chosen because patients frequently inquire about the therapeutic use of cannabis to treat these disorders. In addition, many of the indications included in this report may be moderated by cannabis therapy. In several cases, preclinical data and clinical data indicates that cannabinoids may halt the progression of these diseases in a more efficacious manner than available pharmaceuticals.”
The updated report also features a new section, authored by osteopath and medical cannabis specialist Dr. Dustin Sulak, highlighting the significance of the endocannabinoid system and its role in maintaining mental and physiological health.
“As we continue to sort through the emerging science of cannabis and cannabinoids, one thing remains clear: a functional cannabinoid system is essential for health,” writes Dr. Sulak. “From embryonic implantation on the wall of our mother’s uterus, to nursing and growth, to responding to injuries, endocannabinoids help us survive in a quickly changing and increasingly hostile environment. As I realized this, I began to wonder: can an individual enhance his/her cannabinoid system by taking supplemental cannabis? Beyond treating symptoms, beyond even curing disease, can cannabis help us prevent disease and promote health by stimulating an ancient system that is hard-wired into all of us? I now believe the answer is yes.”
Full text of the report is now available online here. Hard copies will be available for purchase shortly. Print copies of the third edition of this report will be made available at a reduced rate for those seeking bulk orders. (Please e-mail NORML for further details.)
Now Dr. Andrew Weil, a best-selling author and world-renowned leader and pioneer in the field of integrative medicine, has lent his powerful voice to this discussion.
Cannabis Rx: Cutting Through the Misinformation
via Huffington Post
[Excerpt below; read the full commentary here.] Research into possible medical uses of cannabis is enjoying a renaissance. In recent years, studies have shown potential for treating nausea, vomiting, premenstrual syndrome, insomnia, migraines, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injuries, alcohol abuse, collagen-induced arthritis, asthma, atherosclerosis, bipolar disorder, depression, Huntington’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, sickle-cell disease, sleep apnea, Alzheimer’s disease and anorexia nervosa.
But perhaps most exciting, cannabinoids (chemical constituents of Cannabis, the best known being tetrahydrocannabinol or THC) may have a primary role in cancer treatment and prevention. A number of studies have shown that these compounds can inhibit tumor growth in laboratory animal models. In part, this is achieved by inhibiting angiogenesis, the formation of new blood vessels that tumors need in order to grow. What’s more, cannabinoids seem to kill tumor cells without affecting surrounding normal cells. If these findings hold true as research progresses, cannabinoids would demonstrate a huge advantage over conventional chemotherapy agents, which too often destroy normal cells as well as cancer cells.
As long ago as 1975, researchers reported that cannabinoids inhibited the growth of a certain type of lung cancer cell in test tubes and in mice. Since then, laboratory studies have shown that cannabinoids have effects against tumor cells from glioblastoma (a deadly type of brain cancer) as well as those from thyroid cancer¸ leukemia/lymphoma, and skin, uterus, breast, stomach, colorectal, pancreatic and prostate cancers.
… If you want to learn more about this subject, I recommend an excellent documentary film, “What If Cannabis Cured Cancer,” by Len Richmond, which summarizes the remarkable research findings of recent years. Most medical doctors are not aware of this information and its implications for cancer prevention and treatment. The film presents compelling evidence that our current policy on cannabis is counterproductive.
At this past weekend’s national NORML Conference, several panelists — myself included — discussed the use of cannabinoids as selective anti-cancer agents. We also screened Len Richmond’s excellent documentary (in which I’m briefly interviewed) “What If Cannabis Cured Cancer?” (Watch the movie trailer here.)
Fortunately, this important discussion is just now finally making its way into the mainstream. Unfortunately, it’s taken 30+ years to get the MSM to notice.
What possible advancements in the treatment of cancer may have been achieved over the past three decades had U.S. government officials chosen to advance — rather than suppress — clinical research into the anti-cancer effects of cannabis? It’s time for the public and the media to demand an answer.
Investigators and pundits alike are fond of calling for ‘more research’ into the safety and efficacy of marijuana and its active compounds. Ironically, when such calls are heeded and new research is published, nobody wants to talk about it.
For example, researchers at the State University of New York (SUNY), Upstate Medical University in Syracuse published data in the June issue of the journal Pharmacology concluding that the administration of the plant cannabinoids delta-8-THC and delta-9-THC halted cellular respiration and tumor growth in human oral cancer cells. Specifically, investigators reported that cannabinoids were a “potent inhibitor” of Tu183 human cancer cells, a notoriously difficult to treat type of oral cancer.
Of course, this is hardly the first time that pot’s compounds have been demonstrated to possess anti-cancer properties. As has been widely reported here and elsewhere, US government researchers were first aware of this finding over 35 years ago, and today there exist published scientific studies demonstrating that cannabinoids can inhibit the proliferation of a wide range of cancers — including brain cancer, prostate cancer, breast cancer, lung cancer, skin cancer, pancreatic cancer, biliary tract cancer, and lymphoma. Nonetheless, abstract prohibitionist concerns regarding marijuana’s supposed cancer risk continue to dominate the headlines while actual scientific studies debunking these allegations tend to go unnoticed.
Similarly, preclinical data published online last week in the journal Cell Communication and Signaling reported that the administration of the non-psychoactive cannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD) increases adult neurogenesis (the active production of new neurons) in laboratory animals. Authors speculated that cannabis’ pro-neurogenic effects may explain why the plant appears to be useful in the treatment of certain neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s disease or ALS.
As I wrote last week, to date there are now over 20,000 published studies or reviews in the scientific literature pertaining to marijuana and its active compounds — making marijuana the most studied plant on Earth. But what’s the point in further research if nobody even bothers to pay attention to the research that’s already been done?
Author’s update: the graphics in the post below have been updated to correct some minor mistakes, such as dated information that left out Rhode Island and Maine’s dispensaries and Oregon’s recent acceptance of Alzheimer’s agitation as a qualifying condition. Also, I have outlined Oregon’s attempt at legalization through the OCTA petition as it could be reasonably said to be as far along or farther along than Washington’s I-1068. I regret my errors.
With New Jersey recently becoming the 14th medical marijuana state, activists in marijuana law reform have been celebrating. After all, over 82 million Americans now live in states where medical use of marijuana is legal – that’s 27% of the US population! Last election, Massachusetts became the 13th decriminalization state, which means over 107 million Americans live in a state where possession of small personal amounts of marijuana no longer merit an arrest – that’s 35% of the US population.
However, after watching fourteen years of marijuana activism focused solely on those who use cannabis for medicine, I must warn activists that medical marijuana is not getting any better and the time for re-legalization of cannabis for all adults – even the healthy ones – is now.
Medical marijuana was a great 20th century strategy to get the sick and dying off the battlefield in the war on drugs. It was the perfect vehicle to enlighten the public, who for so long have been indoctrinated into the reefer madness that classifies cannabis like LSD and heroin. But in the 21st century the idea that marijuana is only a medicine is beginning to take hold and governments and voters are crafting ever-more-restrictive medical marijuana laws. For the vast majority of cannabis consumers this threatens to move us from the category of “illegal drug users” to “possessors of medicine without a prescription” – a step up, perhaps, but still left facing criminal prosecution.
California legalized medical marijuana in 1996. That initiative, Prop-215, established what is clearly the most liberal medical marijuana statute to date:
- A doctor can recommend for any condition;
- You needn’t have a “bona fide” doctor/patient relationship;
- Dispensaries are allowed;
- Self cultivation is allowed;
- Patients are protected from arrest.
If we consider these five attributes of the law the baseline, then in the past fourteen years, all thirteen medical marijuana states that have followed have failed to achieve all five. Eight states only offer three or four of those liberties and the rest offer two or only one. Most disturbingly, the right of patients to grow their own medicine (or have a caregiver do it for them), which has been a bedrock principle in medical marijuana law, was taken away from patients in the most recent medical marijuana state, New Jersey. Bills that were considered but vetoed in 2009 in Minnesota and New Hampshire, and those moving forward in New York, Pennsylvania, as well as an initiative in Arizona, all sacrifice this core right.
A comparison of plant and possession limits also shows the decline from the original starting point in California, where 12 plants and 8 ounces are allowed. Oregon and Washington passed their laws next and have the highest statutory limits: 24 plants and 24 ounces in Oregon and 15 plants and 24 ounces in Washington. (To be fair, all the West Coast states started with lower limits or more vague limits that were modified by the legislature.) But since then, only one state has allowed more than 3 ounces (New Mexico with 6 ounces) and average number of plants allowed is a little less than ten.
Another decline in medical marijuana freedom appears when we look at the conditions for which medical marijuana protection is afforded in the various states. There are eight conditions which could be considered the “standard” ones: cancer; HIV/AIDS; seizure disorders, like epilepsy; spastic disorders, like multiple sclerosis; glaucoma; chronic nausea; cachexia; and chronic pain. Most medical marijuana states recognize all eight conditions; a couple (Vermont and Rhode Island) recognize seven of eight.
The latest law in New Jersey, however, eliminated chronic pain, chronic nausea, and cachexia, making it the most restrictive list in the nation. The bill proposed but vetoed in New Hampshire required one to try all other remedies for chronic pain before trying medical marijuana. The vetoed Minnesota bill wouldn’t even allow cancer and HIV/AIDS patients to use medical marijuana unless they could show they were terminal (about to die). The lists in the latest proposed bills continue to become more restricted.
Until we do have legalization for all, every medical marijuana law is going to fail to adequately serve all medical users and subject them to increasing restriction and scrutiny. Additionally, medical marijuana laws make patients an attractive target for criminals because prohibition maintains huge profits for stolen medical cannabis, as well as becoming targets for overzealous anti-marijuana cops and prosecutors.
THE FUTURE IS OURS FOR THE MAKING
NORML’s Cannabis Café
The first time I met Madeline Martinez, the executive director of Oregon NORML, she told me about her dream…a meeting place for medical marijuana patients, some space to hold classes, a very different vision of healthcare. I took a drive to Portland last week to see this dream come true; to Oregon NORML’s World Famous-Cannabis Café, a trip to a Future of our own making.
Set in an older blue-collar neighborhood in North East Portland, NORML’s Cannabis Café, occupies a building that was reputed to be a ‘speakeasy’ during Prohibition, alcohol Prohibition, that is. It includes a meeting/concert space upstairs for about 200+ people, in addition to the Café downstairs. Oregon NORML signed a lease this fall with the onsite restaurant operator and took over the business in November. NORML volunteers have been working there non-stop ever since, turning the building into the Cannabis Café. Its opening last month became a world-wide press event…apparently a lot more people than Madeline thought the NORML’s Cannabis Café was an idea whose time had come.
America is currently a crazy-quilt of regulation with the 13 states and counting that have legal medical marijuana. Think what it will look like when all 50 states finally have it! In July, a front page article in the Wall Street Journal announced to the world that the Feds were standing down from enforcement in states with medical marijuana laws, and that MEDICAL MARIJUANA IS NOW OPEN FOR BUSINESS. As I read this, I could imagine entrepreneurs from coast to coast starting to draft their own plans for the medical marijuana businesses, the Next New Thing.
Stephen DeAngelo, the founder of Oakland’s Harborside Health Center, the Bay Area’s largest medical marijuana dispensary, gave one of the most thought provoking speeches at NORML’s 2009 Annual Conference on this very important topic: When marijuana is finally legalized (and new polls indicate America has finally reached the tipping point on this political issue) and the dust has settled, what will the business end of marijuana eventually come to look like? Remember, we are talking about taking an underground multi-billion dollar business and bringing it above ground. This is BIG. There will be huge long-term societal consequences of legalization far beyond the river of tax revenues it will create, many of which will be determined by what physical form legalization takes. So, what will the legal marijuana business in America come to look like? Something big and corporate? Something along the lines of Pepsi, RJ Reynolds, Starbucks, Pfizer, or Budweiser companies that market similar kinds of products??? Big profits, huge advertising budgets and lots of political cash….OR…should legal marijuana be something very different?
Stephen challenged his listeners to see that right now we have the opportunity to shape that marijuana business future, to get something different than the standard corporate outcome …right now, we have the opportunity to create a different cannabis delivery system that isn’t just about the performance on the quarterly bottom line, like it is in the ‘Pepsi’ paradigm, we can create a system that serves the public while at the same time it provides community service…something more along the business lines of Newman’s Own Salad Dressings from whose revenues have come donations of almost $300 million to charities… Just think of that! The outcome for legal cannabis America could be vastly different, if we choose it…
Pain management is one of the places where the rubber truly meets the road in healthcare, a multi-billion dollar business. Non-toxic cannabinoid therapy has a very real place there. And non-toxic is good, as the very first rule of medicine should always be ‘to do no harm’. So, shouldn’t cannabis, from the get-go, do it differently than the Vicodin/Oxycodone ‘take these pills by yourself’ delivery model? After all, cannabis and all its users, medicinal or not, have been long defined by society as ‘counterculture’, so shouldn’t we be expected to do it differently, when we got our turn to create legal marijuana??? How about creating a non-profit medical cannabis delivery system whose central focus was on the patients, not profits for starters? Patients will have better results in chronic pain relief in the social setting of a Cannabis Café, where having people to talk to makes one’s problems feel lighter and one’s pain (medicated or not) easier to bear. Classes will be starting soon at the Cannabis Café on everything from aerobics, yoga, and weight management to plant propagation. Figuring out ways to provide free medicine to the indigent has been part of the design of the Oregon NORML’s Cannabis Café since its very inception. (Imagine that, the poor thought of first in the NORML model, not dead-last like in the standard corporate model.) Perhaps a “Buds on Wheels” program for shut-in medical marijuana patients, too…A hemp products emporium, you get it, a place for everything cannabis, and you, too.
At NORML’s Cannabis Café, feel better…get better And then…What if… patients could meet at NORML Cannabis Cafés all over the country and the revenues generated driving a host of programs, in the area of healthcare and post drug war reparations, like freeing the thousands in jail today on pot charges? Think about it. Is that the kind of future you want? We can have it.
About two years ago, to better understand medical marijuana from the patient’s viewpoint, I interviewed the first 45 people waiting to get into one of the bi-monthly Oregon NORML Medical Marijuana meetings. Virtually everyone I asked that morning willingly volunteered his or her medical history. I heard a long litany of construction, car, and motorcycle accidents, of broken bones, dislocated joints, failed surgeries, and cancer… people who made me wonder, “How in the world does this guy/gal sleep at night?” Then it would occur to me, “Oh yes, of course, the cannabis.” For them NORML’s Cannabis Café puts dealing with serious medical issues in social setting…and shows it can be fun, as well. No wonder it’s a raging success.
NORML’s Cannabis Café is getting better by the day, as this new evolving healthcare paradigm kicks in. America can definitely learn something from the good folks who are blazing the Oregon Trail with medical marijuana; the future IS ours for the molding.
I’ve seen it.