Breaking: Clinical Trial Data Yet Again Affirms Cannabis’ Efficacy

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director May 14, 2012

    Is it any wonder that the US government fights tooth-and-nail to hinder researchers’ attempts to conduct clinical trials assessing the therapeutic utility of cannabis as a medicine? After all, each and every time the federal government begrudgingly allows for such studies they’re faced with credibility-shattering results like this:

    Marijuana relieves muscles tightness, pain of multiple sclerosis: Study
    via the Toronto Star

    Smoking marijuana can relieve muscle tightness, spasticity (contractions) and pain often experienced by those with multiple sclerosis, says research out of the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine.

    The findings, just published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, included a controlled trial with 30 participants to understand whether inhaled cannabis would help complicated cases where existing pharmaceuticals are ineffective or trigger adverse side effects.

    MS is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system, which is made up of the brain and spinal cord.

    The disease attacks the myelin, the protective covering wrapped around the nerves of the central nervous system, and — among other symptoms — can cause loss of balance, impaired speech, extreme fatigue, double vision and paralysis.

    The average age of the research participants was 50 years with 63 per cent of the study population female.

    More than half the participants needed walking aids and 20 per cent used wheelchairs.

    Rather than rely on self-reporting by patients regarding their muscle spasticity — a subjective measure — health professionals rated each patient’s joints on the modified Ashworth scale, a common objective tool to evaluate intensity of muscle tone.

    The researchers found that the individuals in the group that smoked cannabis experienced an almost one-third decrease on the Ashworth scale — 2.74 points from a baseline score of 9.3 — meaning spasticity improved, compared to the placebo group.

    As well, pain scores decreased by about 50 per cent.

    We saw a beneficial effect of smoked cannabis on treatment-resistant spasticity and pain associated with multiple sclerosis among our participants,” says Dr. Jody Corey-Bloom of the university’s department of neuroscience.

    To those familiar with medicinal cannabis research, the results are hardly surprising. After all, Sativex — an oral spray containing plant cannabis extracts — is already legal by prescription to treat MS-related symptoms in over a dozen countries, including Canada, Germany, Great Britain, New Zealand, and Spain. Further, long-term assessments of the drug indicate that in addition to symptom management, cannabinoids may also play a role in halting the course of the disease.

    Nevertheless, the National MS Society — like the US government — shares little enthusiasm for cannabis medicine, stating, “Studies completed thus far have not provided convincing evidence that marijuana or its derivatives provide substantiated benefits for symptoms of MS.”

    Patient advocacy organizations, like the MS Society, have a responsibility to represent the interests of their constituents and to advise practitioners regarding best treatment practices. Why then does this responsibility not extend to patients who use cannabis as an alternative treatment therapy or to those that might one day potentially benefit from its use?

    33 responses to “Breaking: Clinical Trial Data Yet Again Affirms Cannabis’ Efficacy”

    1. jbkorn02 says:

      Second study released today that shows how much the US is trying to stop any medicine even made from marijuana. Even if this one doesn’t get you high. Other than money they are getting from lobbyists to keep it illegal there is absolutly no reason for it. I emailed the whole white house staff about this study like I do when anything comes out but they somehow never write me back.

    2. Patrick says:

      Well surprise, surprise! It’s good to see that Canada is taking such major steps toward marijuana education. Along with the R v. Mernagh case which is still in deliberation after the federal appeal earlier this month, we’re all making progress, moving ever closer to our final goal; legalization. All of this, as well as the various legalization amendments in the US that are to be voted on in november makes legalization seem, at least to me, as a not-so-radical proposition that isn’t too far away. Keep at it everyone. A million soldiers make an army!

      [Paul Armentano responds: To clarify, this study took place at UC San Diego. The results, however, were published in a Canadian journal.

    3. Smokey Joe says:

      This is what happens when “First, do no harm” got replaced by “First, get their billing address”!

    4. Galileo Galilei says:

      To purposefully thwart the advance of medical science is a crime against humanity. Symptom relief is bad enough, but when it comes to ‘halting the course of the disease’, such cruelty is utterly untenable.

    5. russ says:

      Fools. All the studies are the same, its all good green. When will they realize… when!?

    6. seth forbis says:

      ms charities are businesses, they don’t want a cure or they will be out of their administrative fees that they collect as charity executives, whenever a study starts to look promising, they cut the funding and move it to a less productive study…medical research charities are a scam and work hand in hand with big pharma to ensure no “non patentable” treatments for anything get released, as they would cost big pharma profits…

      don’t believe me? cancer has already been cured, but hidden away because the medical industry couldn’t survive without income from the hundreds of billions of dollars invested in chemo equipment and medication. watch the documentary here


    7. Cory says:

      WOW! The organization that exists to help MS research and patients along turns a cheek to a beneficial medication for the simple reason that its marijuana? That is an extremely disappointing and inhumane position to take. They should be ashamed. These people are suffering and taking medicines that are running other vital parts of their bodies… What a sad story to read.

    8. Calcula7ed says:

      Indeed and it has potential for so much more. Limitless commodity that any “green thumb” can grow naturally on their own. NORML and everyone else knows where I stand on this issue and it’s purpose as a neuro-protectant. If you do the research you’ll find that inside of every brain, yes even yours prohibs, their are cannabinoid receptors. Now the question is, is why are the powers that be keeping this beneficial commodity from those that need it and those that believe in it’s nature as a positive/plus. I don’t think I have to go into detail. Search within yourselves and you’ll see this whole “madness” as exactly that but its not the “reefer” that causes it, it’s greed and control. I do appreciate those that research and give their expert opinions, you truly are the one’s that will prove once and for all what some have always held to be self-evident. Thank you for all that you do and continue to do. Everyone if we really want this it can happen and in my heart of hearts I firmly believe one day it will be so. Good day and god bless us and our endeavors.

    9. Stephen Daniel says:

      “The more things change the more they stay the same”.

    10. LOL tru dat!

      This is what happens when “First, do no harm” got replaced by “First, get their billing address”!