Monday, March 14, 2005

Back to medical marijuana

Took a look at the government's propaganda. Exposing the Myth of Smoked Medical MarijuanaMarijuana: The Facts. First item that stands out is the references: out of 12 listed, 4 were from newspapers (Washington Times twice, Washington Post and New York Times). For example for the following statement

In addition, in a recent study by the Mayo Clinic, THC was shown to be less effective than standard treatments in helping cancer patients regain lost appetites.

the web site referenced an article in the NYTimes. Why not reference the study from Mayo Clinic? Why not link to it?

A Columbia University study found that a control group smoking a single marijuana cigarette every other day for a year had a white-blood-cell count that was 39 percent lower than normal, thus damaging the immune system and making the user far more susceptible to infection and sickness.

This statement was supported by an article in the Washington Times written by James Dobson The religious right's new kingmaker. If you wanted to present a serious argument, would you use James Dobson? Once again, why not link to the study so we can read the science behind the statement.

I have read that the government's propaganda has changed under Bush, but this is the first time I've actually seen a government pamphlet use the writings of someone on the religious right. Of course, I've come across the comments from Clinton's drug czar & he's certainly no better - didn't realize that he was the military talking head you see on cable Barry McCaffrey. Sounds like Clinton's first choice of Dr. Lee Brown was far better, though I don't recall either of them.

Here's a web site that lists the history of 'drug czars' including

Dr. Jerome Jaffe is often referred to as the nation's first official "Drug Czar"

Never knew that. Well my research energy is running a bit low, but will have to look at the following book

Marijuana and Medicine
Assessing the Science Base
Janet E. Joy, Stanley J.
Watson, Jr., and John A. Benson, Jr., Editors
Division of Neuroscience and
Behavioral Health

tomorrow night. So far from what I've read, they seem pretty inconclusive in all their studies though their recommendations are respectable. This was a book produced in 1999. Since then, what I've read (will add links when I find them) is that the Bush administration has made it well nigh impossible to start a study of any size. Will leave the last words to our editors:

Recommendation 1: Research should continue into the physiological effects of synthetic and plant-derived cannabinoids and the natural function of cannabinoids found in the body. Because different cannabinoids appear to have different effects, cannabinoid research should include, but not be restricted to, effects attributable to THC alone.
Recommendation 2: Clinical trials of cannabinoid drugs for symptom management should be conducted with the goal of developing rapid-onset, reliable, and safe delivery systems.
Recommendation 3: Psychological effects of cannabinoids such as anxiety reduction and sedation, which can influence medical benefits, should be evaluated in clinical trials.
Recommendation 4: Studies to define the individual health risks of smoking marijuana should be conducted, particularly among populations in which marijuana use is prevalent.
Recommendation 5: Clinical trials of marijuana use for medical purposes should be conducted under the following limited circumstances: trials should involve only short-term marijuana use (less than six months), should be conducted in patients with conditions for which there is reasonable expectation of efficacy, should be approved by institutional review boards, and should collect data about efficacy.
Recommendation 6: Short-term use of smoked marijuana (less than six months) for patients with debilitating symptoms (such as intractable pain or vomiting) must meet the following conditions: failure of all approved medications to provide relief has been documented, the symptoms can reasonably be expected to be relieved by rapid-onset cannabinoid drugs, such treatment is administered under medical supervision in a manner that allows for assessment of treatment effectiveness, and
involves an oversight strategy comparable to an institutional review board process that could provide guidance within 24 hours of a submission by a physician to provide marijuana to a patient for a specified use.

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