‘Gold Standard’ Studies Show That Inhaled Marijuana Is Medically Safe And Effective

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director February 17, 2010

    The results of a series of randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trials assessing the efficacy of inhaled marijuana consistently show that cannabis holds therapeutic value comparable to conventional medications, according to the findings of a 24-page report issued earlier today to the California state legislature by the California Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research (CMCR).

    Four of the five placebo-controlled trials demonstrated that marijuana significantly alleviated neuropathy, a difficult to treat type of pain resulting from nerve damage.

    “There is good evidence now that cannabinoids (the active compounds in the marijuana plant) may be either an adjunct or a first-line treatment for … neuropathy,” said Dr. Igor Grant, Director of the CMCR, at a news conference at the state Capitol.  He added that the efficacy of smoked marijuana was “very consistent,” and that its pain-relieving effects were “comparable to the better existing treatments” presently available by prescription.

    A fifth study showed that smoked cannabis reduced the spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis.  A separate study conducted by the CMCR established that the vaporization of cannabis – a process that heats the substance to a temperature where active cannabinoid vapors form, but below the point of combustion – is a “safe and effective” delivery mode for patients who desire the rapid onset of action associated with inhalation while avoiding the respiratory risks of smoking.

    Two additional clinical trials remain ongoing.

    The CMCR program was founded in 2000 following an $8.7 million appropriation from the California state legislature.  The studies are some of the first placebo-controlled clinical trials to assess the safety and efficacy of inhaled cannabis as a medicine to take place in over two decades.

    Placebo-controlled clinical crossover trials are considered to be the ‘gold standard’ method for assessing the efficacy of drugs under the US FDA-approval process.

    “These scientists created an unparalleled program of systematic research, focused on science-based answers rather than political or social beliefs,” said former California Senator John Vasconcellos, who sponsored the legislation in 1999 to launch the CMCR.  Vasconcellos called the studies’ design “state of art,” and suggested that the CMCR’s findings “ought to settle the issue” of whether or not medical marijuana is a safe and effective medical treatment for patients.

    “This (report) confirms all of the anecdotal evidence – how lives have been saved and pain has been eased,” said California Democrat Senator Mark Leno at the press conference.  “Now we have the science to prove it.”

    Full text of the CMCR’s report to the California legislature is available at online at: http://www.cmcr.ucsd.edu/CMCR_REPORT_FEB17.pdf.

    110 responses to “‘Gold Standard’ Studies Show That Inhaled Marijuana Is Medically Safe And Effective”

    1. Paul Revere says:


    2. Mike says:

      This is absolutely incredible news. A huge step in favor of medical marijuana and one more nail in the prohibition coffin.

    3. ckdk30 says:

      Sorry for this NORML ………..THIS IS F**KIN AWESOME not to mention there again science is proving that this is a safe preventable or cure for almost anything .You guys rock with all the info i check this shit every day an still hav yet to make a donation sorry for that too

    4. Derek TN says:

      Absolutely great news!!! How much evidence is needed until these idiot politicians realize that marijuana is great for medical patients in need of relief???

    5. Lea says:

      “These scientists created an unparalleled program of systematic research, focused on science-based answers rather than political or social beliefs”

      And therein lies the key to undoing the horrors of prohibition.

    6. gnosisistic says:

      It’s about time someone points out publicly that the “inhaling smoke” argument does not hold for vaporizing.

      I understand inhaling cannabis smoke has not been linked to cancers or lung disease, but I’ve talked to doctors who abide by the blanket policy that inhaling any combusted substance is bad by default — and to them I’ve always argued vaporizing.

      I hope this gets traction.

    7. moldy says:

      Great news but sadly I’m wondering how this will be covered by our media? Oh well, great news!

    8. MessiaenFan says:

      This is wonderful news. Now we just need a good ‘gold standard’ test on the effects of high grade hemp oil on cancer!

    9. smackles says:

      This is great news! This goes against what Kerlikowske said about SMOKED marijuana, and now he’s trapped in a corner. I don’t think the feds can keep cannabis listed as a schedule 1 drug much longer without people becoming more and more pissed. Change is finally coming. But how did the California Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research conduct these studies without being stopped? Regardless… awesome news. It’s about time.

    10. Joel M. says:

      Someone tell them to do a “gold standard” study on cancer treatment.