Red Tape, Big Pharm Muscle Strangling MMJ

Red Tape, Big Pharm Muscle Strangling MMJ
Posted by CN Staff on April 17, 2005 at 20:55:37 PT
By C. Spencer Beggs
Source: Fox News Network 
USA -- The months of recalls and warnings surrounding popular prescription painkillers have done more than frighten consumers, batter drug makers' bottom lines and raise questions about the procedures and criteria by which the Food and Drug Administration approves medications.The fact that so many legal drugs pose serious health risks is also reigniting a debate over the medicinal value of other substances — illegal drugs, particularly marijuana — and what critics believe is the government's continuing resistance to studying their possible benefits.
Frustrated researchers say the question is not whether marijuana could serve legitimate medical purposes. Marijuana has been looked at for a variety of medical applications. It can relieve intraocular pressure caused by glaucoma, and it has been touted as an appetite stimulant for patients undergoing chemotherapy, suffering from AIDS wasting syndrome or dementia.• Marijuana Fast Facts: Historic Highs and LowsMore recently, it has been looked at to relieve the neuropathic pain — the so-called "phantom pain" — of patients with multiple sclerosis.The question, researchers say, is whether the benefits of marijuana outweigh the risks of its negative side effects, or whether the maladies can be better treated by other drugs. That's the very question the FDA used to evaluate Vioxx, Bextra and Celebrex, and one that researchers say the government won't let them answer about marijuana."I honestly think they're looking at my age and they’re hoping that if they wait a little bit longer, I’ll be retired and someone will have to start this process all over again," said Lyle Craker, 64, director of the Medicinal Plant Program at the University of Massachusetts, who has been trying to get government approval to produce marijuana for federally approved studies since 2001.Why Not Pot?After years of steadfast refusals, the federal government has been slowly easing restrictions on pharmaceutical research into the medical benefits of some of the country’s most abused recreational drugs. In 2004, the FDA approved two separate studies into medicinal uses of MDMA — also known as the psychedelic party drug Ecstasy.A clinical trial at Harvard University will examine whether MDMA can help terminally ill cancer patients talk to their families about their illness and ultimate death. A psychiatrist in South Carolina is studying the drug's effects on women who are victims of rape or other sexual assaults in a private study.But researchers who want to study the nation's most abused recreational drug — marijuana — are still in last place in the research race. Many researchers blame government bureaucracy and the conflicting missions of different government agencies that make obtaining marijuana for medical research nearly impossible."The FDA has approved marijuana studies and, if it were possible to get marijuana in order to conduct the studies, there would be a lot more research proposed and the FDA would approve more," said Steve Fox, director of government relations for the Marijuana Policy Project, a lobbying group that seeks to legalize medical marijuana and reform drug-related crime laws. "Our problem is that the [Drug Enforcement Agency] is blocking effective research from moving forward."Dr. John Halpern, the psychiatrist who is heading up Harvard University's study of MDMA's effects on anxiety in dying cancer patients, said that the government's system for distributing marijuana for medical use creates difficult hurdles for researchers.For example, the MDMA Halpern is using in his study is produced by companies that are contracted by the government, and given the appropriate licenses, to do so. The job of contracting and overseeing the production of cannabis for the government, however, is the domain of the National Institute on Drug Abuse. But critics say the NIDA has a conflict of interest because its mission is to prevent the use of marijuana regardless of the purpose."[NIDA's] mission statement isn’t to look into any therapeutic effect from the drug of abuse, it’s to look into the harms," Halpern said. "So [they see the marijuana it controls as being] diverted to a non-NIDA funded study, and NIDA has that marijuana earmarked for more important things from their perspective."Like Ecstasy, marijuana is classified as a Schedule I drug under the 1970 Controlled Substance Act, a group that includes heroin and LSD, and has been deemed by the government to have no medical benefit and to be highly addictive. But unlike other Schedule I drugs, which can be obtained through government-licensed contractors, marijuana can be legally obtained for research only from the NIDA.Craker filed his application to produce medical marijuana for federally approved studies in 2001. He finally received a rejection in 2004, despite strong showings of support from Senators John Kerry, D-Mass., and John Edwards, D-N.C."The DEA is attempting to follow their mandate, which I am sure is to keep marijuana off the streets for recreational use and they're doing the best they can there," Craker said. "They think the medical marijuana we produce would be for street use, which is not true, but I think that’s their opinion."Craker and other researchers frustrated by the government's handling of medical marijuana research applications filed a suit against the DEA and the National Institute on Drug Abuse in July of 2004.The FDA, DEA and Department of Health and Human Services declined to comment for this story.Of course, researchers like Halpern emphasize that the scheduling system was put in place with the intentions of protecting the public from junk science studies and keeping illicit drugs away from the public. But advocates for the research say political pandering, corporate greed and the power and influence of the pharmaceutical industry corrupt the system. The race to bring new drugs to the market is not only concerned with the health of the populace, they say, but also with the health of drug companies' stock portfolios, and a drug that patients can produce and use without their help is not good for drug makers' bottom line."The federal government sits by while the FDA approves Vioxx, which leads to the death of many people, while marijuana in its history has never caused an overdose death," argues Fox.Greg Lewis, co-author of the self-help book "End Your Addiction Now," says that with the pharmaceutical industry spending $38.8 billion on research and development in 2004, medical marijuana is superceded by drugs produced through proprietary research.Lewis, however, is skeptical that research into medical marijuana amounts to much more than backdoor legislation for groups whose real agenda is legalizing the drug across the board."With just an absolute cornucopia of pharmacological substances out there for the purposes of dulling pain and making pain tolerable, it’s unimaginable to me that marijuana would be the only way that certain people can get relief from their pain," Lewis said.A Controversial HistoryControversy surrounding the medical benefits of marijuana dates back to 1937, when cannabis was officially prohibited by the federal government. Prior to that, THC, the active ingredient in pot, was used in at least 27 legal medications and was one of the primary ingredients in commercial painkillers until the commercial production of aspirin began in 1899.Since it was outlawed by the feds, government opposition has largely prohibited research into the medical efficacy of marijuana. But interest in its medicinal potential was rekindled in the 1990s, when anecdotal reports surfaced that marijuana helped treat the nausea, loss of appetite and chronic pain suffered by AIDS patients.In 1997, the FDA, in conjunction with the DEA, gave researchers at the University of California the OK to perform the first medical marijuana study in 15 years.Currently there are 13 clinical studies and sub-studies of medical marijuana underway in the U.S., according to the Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research.The U.S. drug company Indevus, based in Lexington, Mass., is testing a pain reliever derived from marijuana that lacks the psychotropic effects of the smoked plant.More research is moving forward overseas. A British company, GW Pharmaceuticals, is on the verge of getting the Canadian government’s stamp of approval to market a marijuana-based mouth spray to treat nerve pain experienced by multiple sclerosis patients.And trials of a synthetic marijuana-derived painkiller, ajulemic acid, are going ahead in France and Germany.But in the U.S., the research still faces a steep uphill battle, not likely to be helped along by the resounding defeat voters in several states delivered to ballot initiatives to decriminalize marijuana in 2004. A March 2005 report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration showing a rising trend in the number of people seeking treatment for marijuana addiction is not likely to benefit research advocates either.Meanwhile, the government is waging its war on drugs as vigorously as ever, and no one expects the government to revise its position on pot.Yet, some troops who have returned from the front lines of the drug war are doing just that.Jack Cole, a 26-year veteran of the New Jersey state police who served 14 of those years in the narcotics bureau, now serves as director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, a lobbying group of former drug-busters who believe the U.S. "war on drugs" has failed and supports sweeping reforms of the nation's drug policy.Cole contends that scheduling creates a system that discourages objective research into drugs and their medical effects."There are certainly enough people out there who are already using Schedule I drugs [for medical purposes], who would benefit from being in a government study of their use," Cole said. "Thousands of people who are using marijuana medicinally are being labeled 'criminal' because the government refuses to allow these studies."Marijuana Fast Facts: Historic Highs and LowsSunday, April 17, 2005By C. Spencer Beggs— Marijuana is a generic name for the sativa sub-species of Cannabis, which contains the highest amount of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary psychoactive chemical in the plant. There are, however, over 400 active chemicals in marijuana. Only about 30 have been studied.— Texts from 2,000 years ago show that marijuana was used as a medicine in a variety of ancient cultures, including China, India, Greece and Persia.— Marijuana was legal in the United States until 1937, when it was prohibited by the Marijuana Tax Act. Before 1937, there were at least 27 medicines containing marijuana in the U.S. Some of the nation's biggest drug manufacturers, including Eli Lilly and Squibb (now Bristol-Myers Squibb) produced drugs from marijuana.— Dr. William C. Woodward, chief counsel to the American Medical Association, testified on behalf of the medical groups in 1937. The AMA feared that the Marijuana Tax Act would prevent research into legitimate medical uses for it. Woodward delivered a statement that "The American Medical Association knows of no evidence that marijuana is a dangerous drug."— Derivatives of marijuana were used as one of the primary painkillers until the introduction of commercial aspirin in 1899.— A tincture of cannabis was used to treat Queen Victoria's menstrual cramps.— The United States government distributes marijuana to six people in the United States who are former patients of a now-defunct medical study from the 1970s.— All marijuana used for medical studies in the U.S. is grown at a government-backed farm at the University of Mississippi.— Under federal law, marijuana cannot be prescribed by a doctor.— When the Marijuana Tax Act was passed in 1937, the federal government wielded far less regulatory power than it does today and therefore imposed a "tax" on marijuana rather than prohibiting it outright. The act was worded very carefully so that the Supreme Court wouldn't overturn it for overstepping the bounds of regulating interstate commerce. The act mandated that anyone wishing to sell marijuana pay a transfer tax. Possession of marijuana without paying the tax was illegal. The required tax stamp, however, could only be issued to those already in possession of marijuana.— Research shows that long-term marijuana use is linked to some changes in the brain similar to those seen after long-term use of other drugs like cocaine and heroin. These studies have not been corroborated.— Long-term use of marijuana can impair cognitive functions, especially those relating to memory.— Marijuana is the nation's No. 1 recreational illegal drug. It is No. 3 if alcohol and tobacco are included.— There are 13 ongoing clinical medical marijuana studies and sub-studies in the United States.Complete Title: Red Tape, Big Pharm Muscle Strangling Medical Marijuana Source: Fox News Network (US)Author: C. Spencer BeggsPublished: Sunday, April 17, 2005Copyright: 2005 FOX News Network, LLC. Website: foxnewsonline foxnews.comRelated Articles & Web Sites:MAPS Marijuana Policy Project Ruling Renders Approval Impossible Rejects Professor's Bid To Grow Marijuana Fails in Bid to Grow Marijuana 
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Comment #16 posted by John Tyler on April 18, 2005 at 23:15:18 PT
memory problems caused by "legal" meds
Speaking of memory problems. A guy who used to work with me had to take prescription meds to treat his anxiety and depression. After several years of daily medication he developed some serious short-term memory problem. So much so that he lost his job as a computer programmer. He could not do the work anymore. You cannot program without good short-term memory.  One of the known side effects of this medication is short-term memory loss.  
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Comment #15 posted by ekim on April 18, 2005 at 20:00:02 PT
anyone see reffer madness on showtime sat nite
Apr 18 05 Jack Cole takes call-ins on the Al Rantel Show 08:00 PM Jack Cole Los Angeles CA USA 
 Executive Director Jack Cole will be explaining why COPS Say LEGALIZE Drugs to call-in questioners on the Al Rantel Show on KABC 790AM in Los Angles, CA. Listen in at from 8 - 9 p.m. PST, Apr 18 05 Peter Christ will be on the Carl Wigglesworth Show 05:00 PM San Antonio TX USA 
 LEAP founding member Peter Christ will be on the Carl Wigglesworth Show, KAHL 1310AM, San Antonio, TX, from 6 to 6:30 p.m. EST. Apr 19 05 Melbourne Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) 12:00 PM Marshall Frank Melbourne Florida USA 
 Speaker Marshall Frank will visit with members of MOAA at Patrick Air Force Base for lunch and to discuss issues related to the failure of drug prohibition. Apr 20 05 Sociology/Criminology 329: Drug Control Policy: "A Cop On Drugs" 04:30 PM Peter Christ Cortland New York USA 
 Board Member Peter Christ visits with Professor Herbert H. Haines' Sociology/Criminology 329: Drug Control Policy class. Peter "A Cop On Drugs" Christ will speak about legalization of drugs and the resulting long term positive impact that it would have on today and tomorrow's world. Apr 20 05 Gun Control Policy Class: "Modern Day Gangsters and American Gun Law Evolution" 11:30 AM Peter Christ Cortland New York USA 
 Professor Robert J. Spitzer from State University of New York at Cortland welcomes Board Member Peter Christ to his Gun Control Policy Class to discuss "Modern Day Gangsters and American Gun Law Evolution". The discussion will explore the connection between drug trafficking, guns and violence in today's society. Apr 20 05 Colorado University: "Drug Legalization and Terrorism Funding" 07:30 PM Jay Fleming Boulder Colorado USA 
 Numerous student groups from The University of Colorado welcome Jay Fleming for a presentation and panel discussion of "Drug Legalization and Terrorism Funding". The panel will be discussing how the illicit market for drugs is funding terrorist groups throughout the world and how legalization could help to deter this effect. Location: Glenn Miller Ballroom, University of Colorado campus.
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Comment #14 posted by john wayne on April 18, 2005 at 15:16:57 PT
>>>The fact that so many legal drugs pose serious health risks is also reigniting a debate over the medicinal value of other substances — illegal drugs, particularly marijuanaProblems with pharmaceutical garbage means closer scrutiny on a natural herb with thousands of years of non-lethal history of use behind it?  OH, I see. Just because some greedheads at big pharma got a little too much leeway from their suck-up syncophants in congress and at the FDA, suddenly medical marijuana deserves more scrutiny.  In other words, if big pharma sneezes, medical marijana catches a cold.
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Comment #13 posted by global_warming on April 18, 2005 at 15:11:18 PT
re:H.R. 1528
"The puritans are at it again (and again and again). Today's L.A. Times reports that legislators are ready to pass a bill to allow technology to filter offensive scenes. In case you hadn't guessed, they're using the world "filter" as a euphemism for CENSOR..."Over Hollywood's long-standing objections, some members of Congress are endorsing legislation that would allow DVDs to be "sanitized" — stripped of scenes that parents don't want their children to see or hear — without first requiring the consent of studios or directors...Called the Family Movie Act, the bill awaits action in the Judiciary Committee, where it has won an endorsement from the influential chairman of the panel, Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R.-Wis.). No comparable bill has been introduced in the Senate."
sex_lies_and_vi.htmlIt seems that brother James is at it again, one has to wonder what is going on there in Wisconsin. Too much cheese and beer, that has to be the problem.---
April 15, 2005
God Help UsThat is it. I am done. I can't take these lunatics anymore. Look at what Jim Sensenbrenner is up to now:  Republican Congressman James Sensenbrenner has launched his next assault on freedom. The full House Judiciary Committee is set to vote as early as next week on H.R. 1528, which creates a new group of mandatory miniumum penalties for non-violent drug offenses, including a five year penalty for passing a joint to someone who's been in drug treatment...That's right: Passing a joint to someone who used to be in drug treatment will land you in federal prison for a minimum of five years..For those of you keeping score, in several weeks Sensenbrenner has championed the Schiavo legislation (while failing to learn how to pronounce her name), suggested that we criminalize 'indecency' and jail offenders who broadcast offensive material, and now is suggesting that if someone relapses, and you hand them a joint, you should go to jail for 5 years..Some infor on drug treatment efficacy:  A great deal of variation exists in the degree of dependence among drug users. The teenager who smokes marijuana three times a week is not as dependent as the thirty year old who has smoked six joints a day for 15 years and has already relapsed after being in two rehabilitation centers. It's obvious that these persons need different approaches to treatment. Similarly, among cocaine users are some who use it in binge fashion one or two days a month and others who use it several times each day. Again, different treatment approaches are required. Regardless of treatment, some drug and alcohol dependent persons repeatedly relapse after treatment. Relapse rates vary among drugs of abuse. While the relapse rate for heroin addiction approaches 90 to 95 percent during the first ninety days following treatment, the rate for alcohol, nicotine, marijuana, and cocaine is less, although precise figures are not available. Relapse should not necessarily be viewed as a failure of either the treatment program or the individual..Relapsing is not a failure, but handing the person who relapsed a joint- even if it is your wife, best friend, whatevr- that can land you in jail for 5 years. MANDATORY..And how are they going to classify drug treatment centers? I got a DUI in 1992 when I was in college. I was required to attend Alcohol Awareness classes at a local DRUG TREATMENT CENTER. Does that mean anyone who hands me a joint should go to the big house?I may have voted for my last Republican in a long time. These wingnut, know-nothing, fundamentalist creeps are scaring the shit out of me, and liberty is at stake when it comes to these law and order goons.
Filed under Republican Stupidity by John Cole
-- you for visiting my website. It is designed to inform you of my activities in Congress and make you aware of the services I provide for the residents of Wisconsin's 5th District. I hope you find this information to be useful. If you need help, just call or drop me a letter. If you contact me through e-mail, please be sure to include your postal mailing address. I am here to serve you. Sincerely, 
Jim Sensenbrenner ----Do you have any relatives that are caught up in this time warp in the 5th district somewhere in Wisconsin?That awful scarlet letter, or some other voodoo mumbo jumbo can never find a hiding place from the Christ.Hey Wisconsin, we need to hear from you all, are you alive, are you well?Before you burn another evil witch or some other heretic, are you sure that you have the the message that was taught by Jesus?Mat 4:23 And Jesus went round the whole of Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the glad tidings of the kingdom, and healing every disease and every bodily weakness among the people. Mat 4:24 And his fame went out into the whole of Syria, and they brought to him all that were ill, suffering under various diseases and pains, and those possessed by demons, and lunatics, and paralytics; and he healed them. Mat 4:25 And great crowds followed him from Galilee, and Decapolis, and Jerusalem, and Judaea, and beyond the Jordan.James, what do you follow? The wishes of your legal council, or the council of your heart, that speaks of your eternal soul, that may rest unforgiven in some dark place in this world.Peacegw
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Comment #12 posted by afterburner on April 18, 2005 at 09:38:20 PT
most abused recreational drug???
{But researchers who want to study the nation's most abused recreational drug — marijuana — are still in last place in the research race.}most abused recreational drug = alcohol!{Controversy surrounding the medical benefits of marijuana dates back to 1937, when cannabis was officially prohibited by the federal government. Prior to that, THC, the active ingredient in pot, was used in at least 27 legal medications and was one of the primary ingredients in commercial painkillers until the commercial production of aspirin began in 1899.}Prior to 1937 "THC" may have been "used in at least 27 legal medications," but nobody *knew* that medical cannabis contained THC until the 1960s."In the 1960s an Israeli neuroscientist named Raphael Mechoulam identified the chemical compound responsible for the mind-altering effects of marijuana. He named it delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, a module with a structure unlike any found in nature before or since."
--Brain, Mind, and Altered States of Consciousness
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Comment #11 posted by Taylor121 on April 18, 2005 at 09:03:54 PT
"But in the U.S., the research still faces a steep uphill battle, not likely to be helped along by the resounding defeat voters in several states delivered to ballot initiatives to decriminalize marijuana in 2004."Montana votes to legalize medical marijuana with 62% in favor.Alaska garnered an all time high for flat out legalization 44% for it. Good article about the research, it's like Sam said baby steps. We are getting there though. Articles like this were unheard of a while back!
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Comment #10 posted by schmeff on April 18, 2005 at 08:59:29 PT
Discovered this is "old news" already discussed in a previous thread!
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Comment #9 posted by schmeff on April 18, 2005 at 08:54:28 PT
G.W. Pharmaceuticals to hire Barthwell!!??"
Good article from Counterpunch:The Pharmaceuticalization of Marijuana, by Fred Gardner
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Comment #8 posted by Sam Adams on April 18, 2005 at 06:58:39 PT
Long-term use of air can result in loss of memory, hair, good looks, and baskektball ability. Long-term use of water WILL lead to death within 90 years! 
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Comment #7 posted by goneposthole on April 18, 2005 at 05:37:06 PT
see how it works
any way, I tried. It's there somewhere. As for memory problems, the pharmaceutical companies have poor memories, too... er... um... they would like you to have a poor memory of what they have wrought.
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Comment #6 posted by goneposthole on April 18, 2005 at 05:25:59 PT
80 million have tried marijuana
Shouldn't there be 80 million people walking around wondering where they came from or where they have been?As for memory problems, everybody I know, whether they smoke cannabis or not, complain of CRS ( can't remember s***).It is a modern day phenomena.CRS website:
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Comment #5 posted by potpal on April 18, 2005 at 05:16:53 PT
If we count caffeine, no? Caffeine, meth's little brother, stuffed in soda pop and given to wee ones at very young ages.Marijuana is the nation's No. 1 recreational illegal drug. It is No. 3 if alcohol and tobacco are included.
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Comment #4 posted by mayan on April 18, 2005 at 03:59:33 PT
5 Years for Passing a Joint: Stop this Bill Now Day highlights marijuana issues:
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Comment #3 posted by OverwhelmSam on April 18, 2005 at 03:42:12 PT
Watering Down The Marijuana Hype
I don't agree with many of the statements in this report, but all-in-all I would say that this report is more fair and balanced to a degree than I've seen in the past.I guess it's baby steps. Media has to water down the hype one step at a time until society in America can come to accept that marijuana is not as bad as the hype makes it out to be. Baby steps, one step at a time to get past the hard heads.Overwhelm Uncle Sam
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Comment #2 posted by Taylor121 on April 17, 2005 at 23:21:17 PT
This part bothered me most
"Long-term use of marijuana can impair cognitive functions, especially those relating to memory."
A 2002 clinical trial published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal that determined, "Marijuana does not have a long-term negative impact on global intelligence;" A 2001 study published in the journal Archives of General Psychiatry that found that long-term cannabis smokers who abstained from the drug for one week "showed virtually no significant differences from control subjects (those who had smoked marijuana less than 50 times in their lives) on a battery of 10 neuropsychological tests." Researchers added, "Former heavy users, who had consumed little or no cannabis in the three months before testing, [also] showed no significant differences from control subjects on any of these tests on any of the testing days;" A 1999 clinical trial published in the American Journal of Epidemiology that found "no significant differences in cognitive decline between heavy users, light users, and nonusers of cannabis" over a 15-year period. A study published last fall in the journal Psychological Medicine examining the potential long-term residual effects of cannabis on cognition in monozygotic male twins reported "an absence of marked long-term residual effects of marijuana use on cognitive abilities." A scientific review published earlier this year in the journal Current Opinion in Pharmacology concluded, "There is little evidence ... that long-term cannabis uses causes permanent cognitive impairment. Belmont, MA: Heavy, long-term use of cannabis appears to have a negligible impact on cognition and memory, according to clinical trial data published in the current issue of the American Journal of Addictions. Researchers at Harvard Medical School performed magnetic resonance imaging on the brains of 22 long-term cannabis users (reporting a mean of 20,100 lifetime episodes of smoking) and 26 controls (subjects with no history of cannabis use). Imaging displayed "no significant differences" between heavy cannabis smokers compared to controls. 
"These findings are consistent with recent literature suggesting that cannabis use is not associated with structural changes within the brain as a whole or the hippocampus in particular," authors concluded. 
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Comment #1 posted by Hope on April 17, 2005 at 21:40:21 PT
Some bad unsubstantiated stuff,
but a lot of the truth, too, that the general public is generally not aware of. Not the usual "full of lies" stuff...just some so called "facts" that don't agree with the facts revealed in some of the studies that we're aware of here. All in all, pretty good and so far a lot more truth than we usually see in the mainstream news.I was really surprised and glad when someone told me that the other evening on one of the mainstream stations out of Dallas, the very positive Alzheimer studies were mentioned on the evening news. I didn't think to ask if it was on the local or national broadcast, but, nonetheless, I was pleased and amazed. They were a bit...about two years...late with this astounding news...but they finally did report it. Although I'm angry that this news and other positive news wasn't reported when it was new news to us who keep up with such matters, it's for sure better late than never.
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