Political opponents of the legalization of marijuana as a medicine routinely say that there is no scientific basis for claims that the drug is useful. The long awaited "U.S. Government-Funded Institute of Medicine (IOM) Study" which was commissioned by the White House and Drug Czar Barry McCaffrey is in. Ironically the executive summary of the report stands in contradiction to Mr. McCaffrey's own claims and concludes…
"The accumulated data indicate a potential therapeutic value for cannabinoid drugs, particularly for symptoms such as pain relief, control of nausea and vomiting, and appetite stimulation. The therapeutic effects of cannabinoids are best established for THC, which is generally one of the two most abundant of the cannabinoids in marijuana. (Cannabidiol, the precursor of THC, is generally the other most abundant cannabinoid.)"
Now, many years after making irresponsible claims regarding the benefits of medical marijuana, Mr. McCaffrey has done an about face. On October 22, 2009 in an interview on CNN Mr. McCaffrey stated, "If we were talking about medical use of marijuana, THC, or cannabinoids," Clinton administration drug czar Barry McCaffrey said on CNN last night, "I'd be 100 percent for it."
At a December 1996 press conference, McCaffrey was asked whether there was "any evidence...that marijuana is useful in a medical situation." His reply was unequivocal: "No, none at all."
Even the most staunch opponents of medical marijuana must change their views in the face of responsible and irrepressible scientific research.
Although the extent of the medicinal value of cannabis has been debated, it does have several well-documented beneficial effects. Among these are: the amelioration of nausea and vomiting, stimulation of hunger in chemotherapy and AIDS patients, lowered intraocular eye pressure (shown to be effective for treating glaucoma), as well as general analgesic effects (pain reliever). Less confirmed individual studies also have been conducted indicating cannabis is beneficial in a variety of conditions including Multiple sclerosis and depression. Synthetic cannabinoids are also available as prescription drugs in many countries. Examples include Marinol, available in Germany and the United States, and Cesamet, available in Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, and also in the United States.
We have brought together articles, studies, statistics, surveys, government and N.G.O. reports which provide documented empirical evidence of the benefits of medical marijuana use.
Marijuana is a complex substance containing over 60 different forms of cannabinoids, the active ingredients. Cannabinoids are now known to have the capacity for neuromodulation, via direct receptor-based mechanisms at numerous levels within the nervous system. These have therapeutic properties that may be applicable to the treatment of neurological disorders;
Severe chronic pain is usually treated with opioid narcotics and various synthetic analgesics, but these drugs have many limitations. Opioids are addictive and tolerance develops. The most commonly used synthetic analgesics - aspirin, acetaminophen (Tylenol), and nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen -are not addictive but they are often insufficiently powerful.
I attended the 1st National Clinical Conference on Medical Marijuana in Iowa in 1998. Arguably the most learned man on the subject of the effects of smoke on the lungs is named Donald Tashkin, Professor of Medicine, Division of Pulmonary & Critical Care, at UCLA. He spoke for almost an hour at the Conference, showing slides of smoke-browned lungs.