• by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director January 10, 2012

    Exposure to cannabis smoke, even over the long-term, is not associated with adverse effects on pulmonary function. That’s the conclusion of a major clinical trial published today in the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

    Investigators at the University of California, San Francisco analyzed the association between marijuana exposure and pulmonary function over a 20 year period in a cohort of 5,115 men and women in four US cities.

    Predictably, researchers “confirmed the expected reductions in FEV1 (forced expiratory volume in the first second of expiration) and FVC (forced vital capacity)” in tobacco smokers. By contrast, “Marijuana use was associated with higher FEV1 and FVC at the low levels of exposure typical for most marijuana users. With up to 7 joint-years of lifetime exposure (eg, 1 joint/d for 7 years or 1 joint/wk for 49 years), we found no evidence that increasing exposure to marijuana adversely affects pulmonary function.”

    The study concludes, “Our findings suggest that occasional use of marijuana … may not be associated with adverse consequences on pulmonary function.”

    To those familiar with the science of cannabis, JAMA’s findings should come as no great surprise. They are consistent with previous findings reporting no significant decrease in pulmonary function associated with moderate cannabis smoke exposure. For instance, according to a 2007 literature review conducted by researchers at the Yale University School of Medicine and published in the Archives of Internal Medicine (and summarized by NORML here), cannabis smoke exposure is not associated airflow obstruction (emphysema), as measured by airway hyperreactivity, forced expiratory volume, or other measures.

    Further, in 2006, the results of the largest case-controlled study ever to investigate the respiratory effects of marijuana smoking reported that cannabis use was not associated with lung-related cancers, even among subjects who reported smoking more than 22,000 joints over their lifetime. (Read NORML’s summary of this study here.)

    “We hypothesized that there would be a positive association between marijuana use and lung cancer, and that the association would be more positive with heavier use,” the study’s lead researcher, Dr. Donald Tashkin of the University of California at Los Angeles stated. “What we found instead was no association at all, and even a suggestion of some protective effect” among marijuana smokers who had lower incidences of cancer compared to non-users.

    A previous 1997 retrospective cohort study consisting of 64,855 examinees in the Kaiser Permanente multiphasic health checkup in San Francisco and Oakland also reported, “[E]ver- and current use of marijuana were not associated with increased risk of cancer … of the following sites: colorectal, lung, melanoma, prostate, breast, cervix.”

    Separate studies of cannabis smoke and pulmonary function have indicated that chronic exposure may be associated with an increased risk of certain respiratory complications, including cough, bronchitis, phlegm. However, the ingestion of cannabis via alternative methods such as edibles, liquid tinctures, or via vaporization — a process whereby the plant’s cannabinoids are heated to the point of vaporization but below the point of combustion –- virtually eliminates consumers’ exposure to such unwanted risk factors and has been determined to be a ‘safe and effective’ method of ingestion in clinical trial settings.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director August 25, 2011

    PBS is to be commended for producing this excellent video summarizing the science behind the use of cannabis as a medicine.

    Want to know why cannabis is effective at treating multiple symptoms and conditions? Watch this video. Want to know how cannabinoids selectively target and kill cancer cells? Watch this video. Want to know how many patents Big Pharma has taken out on cannabis-derived synthetic drugs? Watch this video.

    And then share it with your friends and family.

    Watch the full episode. See more PBS NewsHour.

  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Communications Director May 19, 2011

    NORMLtv is proud to present highlights of Dr. Lester Grinspoon’s question and answer session conducted at this year’s NORML Conference. Lester shared very intimate details about his life and efforts in drug law reform. In the segments provided you can hear Dr. Grinspoon discuss how marijuana proved an invaluable aid in helping his son face cancer treatments and about the time he spent with John Lennon and Yoko Ono.

    We stand on the precipice of change. Cannabis legalization is becoming an inevitable reality and every one of us has Lester Grinspoon to thank for his hard work in laying the foundation for our movement, and for being an outspoken supporter of drug law reform and NORML for many decades. His insight was greatly appreciated and provided some of the most memorable aspects of this year’s conference.

    Easing His Son’s Pain from Cancer Treatments with Marijuana

    On Hanging Out with John Lennon and His First High

    Previous NORMLCON 2011 Coverage:
    Mayoral Debate Feat. Montel WilliamsZiggy Marley: ‘Three Little Birds’
    High Times Activist AwardsDay 1 Floor ReportDay 2 RecapDay 3 Recap

    Stay tuned in to NORMLtv by subscribing to our channel or following us on Twitter.

  • by Russ Belville, NORML Outreach Coordinator March 30, 2011

    You may recall last Wednesday when we pointed out this incredible paragraph on the website of the National Cancer Institute at cancer.gov, on their general information about medical cannabis, touting its antitumoral effects:

    The potential benefits of medicinal Cannabis for people living with cancer include antiemetic effects, appetite stimulation, pain relief, and improved sleep. In the practice of integrative oncology, the health care provider may recommend medicinal Cannabis not only for symptom management but also for its possible direct antitumor effect.

    NCI apparently got a talking to from someone, because now that page has been scrubbed of any reference to the direct antitumoral effects of cannabis:

    The potential benefits of medicinal Cannabis for people living with cancer include antiemetic effects, appetite stimulation, pain relief, and improved sleep. Though no relevant surveys of practice patterns exist, it appears that physicians caring for cancer patients who prescribe medicinal Cannabis predominantly do so for symptom management.

    See for yourself:

    Click the image for the full-size screenshots of the NCI's Cancer.gov website

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director March 24, 2011

    Scientific trials have for decades documented the anti-cancer properties of cannabis and its constituents. Yet it took until this week for the website of the National Institute of Cancer, a component of the U.S. government’s National Institutes of Health, to finally acknowledged the herb’s therapeutic utility for patients living with disease or suffering from the adverse side-effects of cancer treatment.

    In a newly added section to the website, entitled ‘Cannabis and Cannabinoids,’ the Institute states:

    Cannabinoids may cause antitumor effects by various mechanisms, including induction of cell death, inhibition of cell growth, and inhibition of tumor angiogenesis and metastasis. Cannabinoids appear to kill tumor cells but do not affect their nontransformed counterparts and may even protect them from cell death.”

    …The potential benefits of medicinal cannabis for people living with cancer include antiemetic effects, appetite stimulation, pain relief, and improved sleep. In the practice of integrative oncology, the health care provider may recommend medicinal cannabis not only for symptom management but also for its possible direct antitumor effect.”

    It’s a stunning acknowledgment, given that the NIH is a branch of the very same government that presently maintains that the cannabis plant and all of its naturally-derived components have ‘no accepted medical use.’ Yet it also begs the question: Where has the National Institute of Cancer been all these years?

    After all, the anti-tumor activity of cannabinoids were initially documented in 1975! That’s right; it’s taken 36 years for the Institute to get with the program.

    Hopefully it won’t take them another 36 years to demand that the Feds finally assess whether these preclinical results are replicable in human trials.

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