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BENEFITS OF CANNABIS | ARTICLES
MEDICAL BENEFITS OF CANNABIS
Medical cannabis has proven
In an article originally appearing in Alternet,
republished by Salon, Paul Armentano notes
studies revealing that marijuana contains more than 60 active
compounds likely possessing distinctive therapeutic properties,
including anti-cancer properties, anti-diabetic properties, neuroprotection,
and anti-stroke properties of cannabinoids other than tetrahydrocannabinol
(THC), the primary psychoactive compound of cannabis, which itself
has valuable therapeutic effects.
Of course, a major obstacle and inhibiting
factor to more widespread deployment of Cannabis in fighting
disease is that marijuana, including medical marijuana, remains
illegal in most US states at the federal level in the USA as
well as in various countries around the world. However, in 2012
Washington and Colorado passed ballot initiatives legalizing
marijuana for both recreational and medical, and currently 20 states and DC have enacted laws to legalize
In a conference at Houston in November,
2009, the American Medical Association's House of Delegates adopted a new policy position calling for review
of marijuana's status as a Schedule I drug in the federal Controlled
Substances Act'. The old language in Policy H-95.952 had
previously recommended that "marijuana be retained in Schedule
I," which groups marijuana with drugs such as heroin, LSD
and PCP that are deemed to have no accepted medical uses and
to be unsafe for use even under medical supervision.
The AMA's revised policy states: "Our
AMA urges that marijuana's status as a federal Schedule I controlled
substance be reviewed with the goal of facilitating the conduct
of clinical research and development of cannabinoid-based medicines,
and alternate delivery methods." Drugs listed in Schedule
II, for which medical use is permitted with strict controls,
include cocaine, morphine and methamphetamine. A pill containing
THC, the component responsible for marijuana's "high,"
is classed in Schedule III, whose looser requirements allow phoned-in
MEMBERS OF CONGRESS URGE OBAMA TO RECLASSIFY
CANNABIS (LETTER FROM 18 LEGISLATORS SAYS SCHEDULE I STATUS "MAKES
Eighteen members of Congress last month
formally called on President Obama to use his authority to reclassify
cannabis to recognize its medical uses and relative safety. The
bipartisan request, which came in letter sent by members of the
House of Representatives, notes that the current classification
of cannabis "makes no sense," and asks President Obama
to "instruct Attorney General Holder to delist or classify
marijuana in a more appropriate way." The Congressional
letter came just days after The New Yorker magazine published
an interview with the President in which he acknowledged that
cannabis is less dangerous than alcohol.
"Classifying marijuana as Schedule
I at the federal level perpetuates an unjust and irrational system,"
says the Congressional letter. "Schedule I recognizes no
medical use, disregarding both medical evidence and the laws
of nearly half of the states that have legalized medical marijuana."
Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), the
letter's lead author, said in a statement that reclassifying
marijuana "is a step the administration can take to start
to rationalize federal marijuana policy to bring it in line with
the advances that are happening in the states."
In addition to Rep. Blumenauer, the letter
was co-signed by Representatives Steve Cohen (D-TN), Sam Farr
(D-CA), Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ), Mike Honda (D-CA), Jared
Huffman (D-CA), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Alan
Lowenthal (D-CA), James McGovern (D-MA), James Moran (D-VA),
Beto O'Rourke (D-TX), Jared Polis (D-CO), Mike Quigley (D-IL),
Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Eric Swalwell
(D-CA), and Peter Welch (D-VT).
The Controlled Substances Act establishes
several means for changing the classification of drugs, including
action by the executive branch under the authority of the U.S.
Attorney General or the DEA.
In 2011, the governors of Rhode Island,
Vermont and Washington filed a petition to reclassify marijuana
for medical use. Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper filed a
separate, similar petition. Both are pending before the DEA and
could be approved at any time.
More information: Congressional letter calling on Obama to reclassify
National Epilepsy Foundation Calls for
Safe Access, More Research
The Epilepsy Foundation last month endorsed
medical cannabis as a treatment option for the 2.3 million Americans
who suffer from seizures and called on the federal government
to make it available to all Americans. In a statement, foundation
said "the end of seizures should not be determined by one's
The Epilepsy Foundation announced it will
take action to support improved access and research on medical
cannabis, including urging the DEA to reschedule cannabis and
supporting changes in state laws to make cannabis available to
treat epilepsy for both adults and children.
The foundation also released a statement
from one of its board members, Orrin Devinsky, M.D., a professor
of neurology and Director of NYU's Comprehensive Epilepsy Center,
who said that if he were a parent of a child with a seizure disorder
that did not respond to conventional treatments, he would try
"As a doctor, I would gladly prescribe
marijuana products for many of my patients who failed existing
therapies if it were legal in my state," Dr. Devinsky wrote.
"Trying marijuana or related compounds should be regarded
like any other experimental treatment - a shared decision between
patient/parent and doctor."
An estimated 1 million epilepsy patients
in America do not respond to conventional treatment.
Cannabis Proves Effective In Treating
Crohn's Disease According To New Study
A new clinical study published in the journal
Pharmacology and by the National Institute of Health has found that
cannabis is effective in treating Crohn's disease, which is a
form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). IBDs such as ulcerative
colitis and Crohn's affect over a million people in the United
States. Many IBD victims suffer from pain, diarrhea and poor
ability to digest food, and up to half of IBD cases are so severe
that they ultimately require surgery to remove the affected bowel
The study, entitled: "Cannabis Finds Its Way into Treatment of
Crohn's Disease" (International Journal of Experimental
and Clinical Pharmacology, Vol. 93, No. 1-2, 2013 Dec 17;93(1-2):1-3.
[epublished ahead of print] © 2013 S. Karger AG, Basel.?PMID:
24356243) is co-authored by Rudolf Schicho, PhD and M. Storr,
both of the Institute of Experimental and Clinical Pharmacology,
Medical University of Graz in Graz, Austria.
In the study abstract,
Schicho and Storr note that In ancient medicine, cannabis was
widely used to treat and cure bowel disturbances and inflammation,
and a recent clinical study now shows that the medicinal herb
Cannabis sativa lived up to expectations and proved to be highly
efficient in cases of inflammatory bowel diseases.
The researchers report that a prospective
placebo-controlled study has confirmed what was largely anticipated
from anecdotal reports, i.e. that cannabis produces significant
clinical benefits in patients with Crohn's disease. They note
that mechanisms involved are not yet clear, but most likely include
peripheral actions on cannabinoid receptors 1 and 2, and may
also include central actions.
The Crohn's Forum notes that the body produces substances called Endocannabinoids
or Endogenous Cannabinoids, which function in a similar manner
to Cannabinoids found in medicinal marijuana. Cannabinoids (CBs),
either produced within the body or taken from an external source
(ie: Pharmaceutical or Medicinal Marijuana), exert effects that
may be of benefit to patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
and certain types of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), including
Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis. Medicinal Marijuana affects
Cannabinoid Receptors (CB) in the Gastrointestinal Tract and
can exert effects that help relieve symptoms. These effects include
a reduction of: Pain, Inflammation, Diarrhea, Gastrointestinal
Hypermotility and Secretion.
Cannabis can reduce painful Gastrointestinal
cramping as it is a smooth muscle relaxant, and can relax the
Intestinal spasms. Cannabinoids can also increase healing of
injured Epithelial Tissues. Many of these effects are due to
Cannabinoid stimulation of Cannabinoid Receptors (CB) located
in many parts of the body.
The human body produces and utilizes its
own cannabinoids, but can also utilize cannabinoids from external
sources such as cannabis. In their paper, Schicho and Storr observe
that over the past decade there has been a steady increase in
the number of publications addressing the anti-inflammatory effects
of Cannabinoids and potential underlying mechanisms, and in particular
that preclinical data on the ameliorating effect of synthetic
and natural CBs in animal models mimicking features of IBD have
been rapidly evolving. They cite a prospective placebo-controlled
study by T. Naftali et al. (Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol 2013;11:1276-1280.
External Resources) on the effect of cannabis in IBD than confirms
what had been suggested for a long time from experimental studies,
to wit that Cannabinoids may provide anti-inflammatory effects
and symptomatic benefit in patients with IBD.
The Austrian researchers note that CB1
and CB2 receptors are located at the colonic epithelium, making
a protective effect of the cannabinoid Delta-9-TetraHydroCannabinol
(THC) via epithelial permeability is conceivable, in which case
CBs could enhance epithelial wound closure in the colon.
They also note that other studies have
demonstrated that a prominent characteristic of CBs in experimental
intestinal inflammation is their effect on immunocytes which
mainly express CB2 receptors. Upon CB2 activation, T cells undergo
apoptosis and decreased proliferation in colitis, and additionally,
activation of CB2 diminishes the recruitment of neutrophils,
T cells and macrophages to the inflamed colon. CB receptors are
also found in the enteric nervous system (ENS), that controls
gut motility and secretion. CB1 receptors present in the ENS
represent a break that protects the ENS from hyperstimulation,
which is easily caused by overexpression of inflammatory mediators
that activate the ENS during IBD. Consequently, they deduce that
activation of CB receptors by THC may reduce hypermotility associated
with the inflammation of the gut, and that reduction of hypermotility
may alleviate diarrhea, producing beneficial effects for the
The Crohn's Forum reports that signaling
through CB1 also has potent effects that may be beneficial to
persons with IBD, including: reduction of Nausea/Vomiting, inhibition
of Intestinal Motility, and anti-Inflammatory effects. They note
that pharmaceutical companies are attempting to design medications
that increase signaling through CB1, and which could potentially
offer effective treatment for Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBD)
including Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis. CB1 is present
in the Brain and is responsible for the Psychological and Behavioral
effects seen with use of Medicinal Marijuana. In order to be
an effective treatment and minimize psychological effects seen
with Medical Marijuana use, the pharmaceutical should be specific
for CB1 and not cross the Blood Brain Barrier.
Moreover, CB1 appears to protect against
severe Colitis. The Forum cites studies in mice that have CB1
blocked or do not have CB1 (CB1 knockout mice) which develop
more severe experimental colitis symptoms than wild type mice.
In animal models of Colitis, pretreatment with CB1 agonists (chemicals
that activate the Receptor) leads to reduced chemical-induced
Inflammation and Edema than animals not given pretreatment medication
The National Institute of Health - The Crohn's Forum - International
Journal of Experimental and Clinical Pharmacology - Salon - The
Marijuana Policy Project in Texas - KHOU.com - The Joint Blog
- The Weed Blog - The American Medical Association
An excellent source for information on
medical cannabis issues is: http://www.safeaccessnow.org/asa_reports