Scientific Review: “There Is Now Clear Evidence That Cannabinoids Are Useful For The Treatment Of Various Medical Conditions”

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director August 9, 2012

    For the second time in recent months, a scientific paper published in a peer-reviewed journal has thoroughly rebutted the present Schedule I status of cannabis under US federal law, which states that the plant and its organic constituents possess a “high potential for abuse,” and that they lack “accepted medical use” and “accepted safety … under medical supervision.”

    According to a just published review in the German scientific journal Deutsches Ärzteblatt International, scientific findings from over 100 controlled clinical trials involving either cannabis or its constituents provide “clear evidence that cannabinoids are useful for the treatment of various medical conditions.”

    Investigators from the nova-Institute and the Hannover Medical School in Germany reviewed over 100 controlled trials assessing the safety and efficacy of cannabis and cannabinoids.

    Researchers reported: “Knowledge about the therapeutic potential of cannabis products has been greatly improved by a large number of clinical trials in recent years. … There is now clear evidence that cannabinoids are useful for the treatment of various medical conditions,” including chronic neuropathy (nerve pain), multiple sclerosis, HIV/AIDS, Gilles de la Tourette syndrome, and other indications.

    Regarding the safety profile of cannabis and cannabinoids, investigators determined: “The most common side effects of cannabinoids are tiredness and dizziness (in more than ten percent of patients), psychological effects, and dry mouth. Tolerance to these side effects nearly always develops within a short time. Withdrawal symptoms are hardly ever a problem in the therapeutic setting.”

    Authors did express concern that cannabis could pose additional health risks for adolescents and/or pregnant or breast-feeding women, as well as individuals diagnosed with Hepatitis C, severe cardiovascular disease, addictive disorders, or those vulnerable to certain psychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia.

    Investigators acknowledged that cannabis dosing may adversely impact psychomotor skills. However, they noted, “Patients who take cannabinoids at a constant dosage over an extensive period of time often develop tolerance to the impairment of psychomotor performance, so that they can drive vehicles safely.”

    They concluded, “No acute deaths have been described that could be unequivocally attributed solely to cannabis consumption or treatment with cannabinoids.”

    This most recent paper follows the publication of a similar review, published in May in The Open Neurology Journal. In that paper, investigators with the University of California at San Diego and the University of California, Davis concluded: “Evidence is accumulating that cannabinoids may be useful medicine for certain indications. Based on evidence currently available, the (federal) Schedule I classification (of cannabis) is not tenable; it is not accurate that cannabis has no medical value, or that information on safety is lacking.

    In 2011, the Obama administration — via the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) — formally denied a nine-year-old administrative petition filed by NORML and a coalition of public interest organizations calling on the agency to initiate hearings to reassess the present classification of marijuana as a schedule I controlled substance. In her denial of the petition, DEA administrator Michele Leonhart alleged: “[T]here are no adequate and well-controlled studies proving (marijuana’s) efficacy; the drug is not accepted by qualified experts. … At this time, the known risks of marijuana use have not been shown to be outweighed by specific benefits in well-controlled clinical trials that scientifically evaluate safety and efficacy.”

    In June, Ms. Leonhart testified before Congress that she believed that heroin and marijuana posed similar threats to the public’s health because, in her opinion, “all illegal drugs are bad.”

    Coalition advocates are presently appealing the DEA’s denial of their petition in federal court.

    Full text of the most recent study, “The therapeutic potential of cannabinoids,” is available online here.

    83 responses to “Scientific Review: “There Is Now Clear Evidence That Cannabinoids Are Useful For The Treatment Of Various Medical Conditions””

    1. poisenivie says:

      i live n a state that cannibus is ill-legal but,, i am very forunate,, i have a neurolisgist that allows me to smoke,, better than bing addicted to pain pills any day,, he aggrees! Legalize everywhere now,, yesterday!!!

    2. Gweedo says:

      This study should be brought up as evidence at the hearing to reschedule cannabis on October 16th in DC.

    3. Anonymous says:

      Ms. Leonhart is an idiot and testified her lack of intelligence.

    4. Matt says:

      ” in her opinion, “all illegal drugs are bad.””

      That’s why marijuana should be legal! It shouldn’t be lumped in with truly dangerous and harmful substances especially when there are so many people who could use it for certain psychiatric and medical diagnoses, ailments and diseases.

    5. Cindy says:

      I’d Like to know more about the dangers of cannabis use if you have Hep C, cant find any info except as noted above.

    6. Don says:

      They FAIL to mention this!

      “Hepatitis C – A 2006 study performed by researchers at the University of California at San Francisco found that marijuana helps improve the effectiveness of drug therapy for hepatitis C, an infection that roughly 3 million Americans contract each year. Hepatitis C medications often have severe side effects like loss of appetite, depression, nausea, muscle aches and extreme fatigue. Patients that smoked marijuana every day or two found that not only did they complete the therapy, but that the marijuana even made it more effective in achieving a “sustained virological response,” which is the gold standard in therapy, meaning there was no sign of the virus left in their bodies.”
      Look it up for yourself!!!!!!

      [Paul Armentano responds: There is conflicting data regarding cannabis use in Hep C populations, with some literature documenting potential adverse effects (e.g., Daily cannabis smoking as a risk factor for progression of fibrosis in chronic hepatitis. Hepatology 42: 63-71.) Therefore, it is not unreasonable to express caution regarding the potential use of cannabinoids in this indication, as NORML also recommends here: http://norml.org/library/item/hepatitis-c.%5D

    7. Joel: the other Joel says:

      The Obama administration don’t see it, hear it, nor speak of it.

    8. Will says:

      The Obama admin claims it is focused on the “science” of these things. I guarantee they will not look at this study. If you vote for Obama, you are damning weed legalization.

    9. Brittaney says:

      My parents use marijuana as a form of pain relief. I believe it should be legal because I have pictures of my parents doped up on prescription drugs sleeping on their recliners in our living room. I do not have one picture of them asleep in the living room or their bedroom doped up on marijuana. This is because with extended use this “DRUG” does not cause that effect on the user. This happened with pills for almost 7 years to my parents. They were also very rude and easily agitated when taking the pills as well. With marijuana I can easily talk to my parents without the fear of them yelling at me or getting angry at a simple question. Just make the thing that helps legal and stop doping up our world.

    10. Steve Reynolds says:

      I smoke weed at least three times daily and ingest it in varyingt forms at least once a week and I feel GREAT.