MJ Research Funding Cut as Support for Drug Grows
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MJ Research Funding Cut as Support for Drug Grows
Posted by CN Staff on April 15, 2013 at 05:51:01 PT
By Elizabeth Lopatto 
USA -- As more states embrace legalized marijuana, the drug’s growing medicinal use has highlighted a disturbing fact for doctors: scant research exists to support marijuana’s health benefits. Smoked, eaten or brewed as a tea, marijuana has been used as a medication for centuries, including in the U.S., where Eli Lilly & Co. (LLY) sold it until 1915. The drug was declared illegal in 1937, though its long history has provided ample anecdotal evidence of the plant’s potential medicinal use. Still, modern scientific studies are lacking.
What’s more, the federal government is scaling back its research funding. U.S. spending has dropped 31 percent since 2007 when it peaked at $131 million, according to a National Institutes of Health research database. Last year, 235 projects received $91 million of public funds, according to NIH data. That’s left the medical community in a bind: current literature on the effects of medical cannabis is contradictory at best, providing little guidance for prescribing doctors. “What’s happening in the states is not related to science at all,” said Beau Kilmer, co-director of RAND Corp.’s drug policy research center. Kilmer is also part of a group selected to advise the state of Washington on its legalization effort. “It’s difficult to get good information,” he said. Two states, Washington and Colorado, have fully legalized the drug, 18 states allow its use for medical reasons and 17, including New York, have legislation pending to legalize it.  1999 ReportDonald Vereen, a former adviser to the last three directors of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, says that most doctors’ and policy makers’ knowledge on the subject stems from a 1999 report from the Institute of Medicine, an independent nonprofit that serves to provide information about health science for the government. The group summed up its findings saying cannabis appeared to have benefits, though the drug’s role was unclear. The IOM report recommended clinical trials of cannabinoid drugs for anxiety reduction, appetite stimulation, nausea reduction and pain relief. It also found that the brain develops tolerance to marijuana though the withdrawal symptoms are “mild compared to opiates and benzodiazapines.” “We don’t know that much more than what’s in that report,” said Vereen. Vereen, for one, says marijuana’s effects on pain without the withdrawal symptoms associated with other medications are deserving of further study to develop better pain drugs.  Medical BenefitsSubsequent research suggests marijuana may help stimulate appetite in chemotherapy and AIDS patients, help improve muscle spasms in multiple sclerosis patients, mitigate nerve pain in those with HIV-related nerve damage and reduce depression and anxiety. It’s even been suggested that an active ingredient, THC, may prevent plaques in the brain associated with Alzheimer’s, according to a 2006 study by the Scripps Research Institute. Still, fewer than 20 randomized controlled trials, the gold standard for clinical research, involving only about 300 patients have been conducted on smoked marijuana over the last 35 years, according to the American Medical Association, the U.S.’s largest doctor group. A few small companies are trying to tap into an emerging market for marijuana therapies, which could exceed $1 billion in California alone, according to Mickey Martin, director of T-Comp Consulting in Oakland, California, which advises people who want to set up their own cannabis businesses.  $40 WeeklyHis model of about 750,000 cannabis patients found that the estimated spending from California’s patient population is $1.1 billion, including $56 million in doctors’ fees and about $1 billion in medicine. That assumes roughly two-thirds of the patient population will pay $40 a week for medication, Martin said. Cannabis Science Inc., CannaVest Corp., and Medical Marijuana Inc. (MJNA) are among a handful of companies developing drugs based on cannabis research or medical marijuana itself. Until more laws change, it will be difficult to study an illegal substance with the goal of turning it into a medication, researchers say. And since it’s illegal to grow, marijuana isn’t subjected to the rigorous quality control most medicines are, raising concerns patients may be at risk from contaminants, said Vereen. Marijuana advocates point out inherent obstacles to conducting research: the National Institute on Drug Abuse controls all the cannabis used in approved trials, but the agency’s mandate is to study abuse of drugs, not health benefits.  FDA DilemmaThis creates dilemmas. The Food and Drug Administration, for instance, has approved a clinical trial studying whether marijuana can relieve symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. The trial, however, which is in the second of three stages of clinical testing, is blocked. NIDA, which controls the legal testing supply of the drug grown at a University of Mississippi farm, has refused to supply the researchers with marijuana. “NIDA is under a mandate from Congress to find problems with marijuana,” said Bob Melamede, CEO of Cannabis Science Inc. (CBIS), a Colorado Springs, Colorado-based company that develops medicines derived from marijuana. “If you want to run a study to show it cures cancer, they will not provide you with marijuana,” he said. “What you cannot do are the clinical studies that are necessary.” Attempts to expand licensed facilities beyond the University of Mississippi farm, have been denied, including a petition from University of Massachusetts agronomist Lyle Craker. The Drug Enforcement Administration denied that request in 2011, reversing a 2007 recommendation from its own administrative law judge, Mary Ellen Bittner.  NIDA ProjectsNIDA also administered the most projects from 2003 to 2012, overseeing $713 million split among 1,837 research efforts. The bulk of the funding in the past decade was devoted to evaluating marijuana’s risks, potential negative impacts on the brain and developing prevention and treatment strategies, according to NIDA. “There’s been a significant amount of study, but not clinical research,” said Brad Burge, a spokesman for the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, a non- profit research and advocacy group. What’s lacking, says Burge, is “research intended to move marijuana, the plant, through the path to prescription approval by the FDA.”  Contradictory FindingsFor now, the research that does exist is often contradictory. A survey of 4,400 people found that those who consumed marijuana daily or at least once a week reported less depressed mood than non-users, according to a 2005 report in the journal Addictive Behaviors. A 2010, however, study in the American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse of 14,000 found that anxiety and mood disorders were more common in those who smoked almost every day or daily. Still, people continue to swear by medical marijuana. Cathy Jordan, 63, was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis at 36 and given 3 to 5 years to live. She smoked marijuana, a strain called Myakka Gold, on a Florida beach with friends, and from that day “the disease just stopped,” said her husband Bob, 65. “All cannabis seems to work, and it’s slowed the progression,” he said in a telephone interview. They think marijuana may interfere with a neurotransmitter, glutamate, that can have harmful effects in the disease “but we’re just guessing here. All we know is when she doesn’t have it, she gets sick and when she does have it, she doesn’t get sick.” On Feb. 25, they were raided for growing 23 plants for Cathy’s use. Bob was charged, though the prosecutors declined to press charges because of the medical records the couple supplied, he said. Currently, Cathy is the president of FL CAN, an advocacy group meant to generate support for changing marijuana policies. Doctor Attitudes Doctors’ attitudes are also shifting in favor of easing marijuana restrictions. The American Medical Association, the nation’s biggest doctor organization has called for a review of marijuana’s Schedule I status, a designation that declares it has no accepted medical use. The American College of Physicians, the second-largest U.S. doctor organization with 133,000 members, also wants criminal penalties waived for doctors who prescribe marijuana and patients who smoke it. The drug could be useful to treat multiple sclerosis, nausea and pain, based on preliminary studies and pre-clinical lab work, the group said in a 2008 position paper calling for more research. For the first time, a majority of Americans say they support legalization, according to a survey released April 4 by the Pew Research Center.  Restrictions EasingAs those views trickle up to law makers, there’s little doubt that the easing of marijuana restrictions on the state level will continue. “We are in the middle of the river,” said Roger Roffman, a professor emeritus at the University of Washington’s school of social work who has studied marijuana use more than 20 years. “Change is happening so rapidly with both medical marijuana and non-medical marijuana, that it is too early to know what’s likely happening in terms of the effect.” Source: (USA)Author: Elizabeth LopattoPublished: April 15, 2013Copyright: 2013 Bloomberg L.P.Contact: elopatto Website: -- Cannabis Archives 
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Comment #10 posted by jetblackchemist on April 18, 2013 at 13:33:05 PT
Ok, so that just lays out the real issue yeah? We want to treat it as a health issue, we want to research and develop drugs to treat... sounds like someone is listening to a huge lobby, that benefits off of treatment and un-natural medicine. Hey, no no no you can't just grow medicine!!!You have to have to pay the piper first, there's got to be at least 6 palms to grease before you can have your medicine. You mean you want an herbal medicine all to yourself... here for 1000's of years to just use? Without having to jump through hoops and red tape; just so some people can profit?Seriously, what's wrong with you... don't you support good old fashioned capitalism where nothing is free?If for some reason the irony was missed in this post... now it's clear. 
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Comment #9 posted by Storm Crow on April 16, 2013 at 07:04:45 PT
Scant evidence?
Baloney! Someone ought to start reading "Granny Storm Crow's List"! The studies are there if you look!And PubMed just came out with a little gem- "An ultra-low dose of tetrahydrocannabinol provides cardioprotection", that concludes "A single ultra low dose of THC before ischemia is a safe and effective treatment that reduces myocardial ischemic damage". Even a single dose of THC given 48 hours before the heart attack, protected the heart from damage!  
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Comment #8 posted by disvet13 on April 15, 2013 at 18:48:10 PT:
what he said! Swazi-X
I would just add "there is an element that has invaded our government, a small group of contemptible men have made us a contemptible nation". the nazi's got a foothold in our government, and they been robbing us ever since. Rocky's Bilderburg group is so far entrenched in our political process the only thing that will cure it will be a french revolution on american soil. and that's just what world government wants.
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Comment #7 posted by The GCW on April 15, 2013 at 18:43:44 PT
N.H. jury nullification
Activist Facing 81 Years Admits to Selling Pot, Seeks Jury Nullification"...Recently, juries have begun to nullify the marijuana law. Doug Darrell, a 59-year-old Rastafarian charged with marijuana cultivation, was acquitted by a jury who felt that the marijuana laws were unjust, despite taking the stand and confessing.As of 2012, New Hampshire has a unique state statute that explicitly legalizes, "the right of a jury to judge the application of the law in relationship to the facts in controversy." Paul is looking for a similar result and will be focused on informing the jurors of their right to nullification.Cont.
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Comment #6 posted by mexweed on April 15, 2013 at 17:52:28 PT:
Pro-$igarette bias behind blocking vapor studies
The same NIDA which refuses to supply cannabis for experimentation by Craker's team at the University of Massachusetts reportedly supplies a low-THC grade for SMOKING use in the form of 900-mg $IGARETTES for a small list of grandfathered-in patients-- don't you think they might have heard of VAPORIZATION? (Not to mention, but I will anyway, that you can vaporize (TITRATE) 25-mg tokes with a screened one-hitter that has a flexible drawtube attached...)
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Comment #5 posted by HempWorld on April 15, 2013 at 16:14:23 PT
Thank you Swazi-X!
I could not have said that better myself! Kudos!
Cannabis Farm
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Comment #4 posted by Swazi-X on April 15, 2013 at 15:18:51 PT
Drug War Profiteer Nonsense
Cannabis has been used safely for tens of thousands of years by humans. It only was made "illegal" by the manic, lying sack of crap that was called Harry Anslinger in the '30s to give his liquor-prohibition-cops something to do in order to keep a paycheck coming once liquor prohibition was shown as an utter failure and was repealed. The lies, racial slurs, and deception are there for all of us to witness in the Congressional Record for those hearings. Hearings where Anslinger's minions lied to Congress about the American Medical Association's support for prohibiting cannabis - the AMA was AGAINST this abusive law.And citing shrinking budgets for research is another lie - the ONLY research our illustrious, supposedly-honest government even ALLOWS must be designed to look for the harm illegal substances will do to the user, they don't fund studies looking for benefit, medical utility, etc. at all."What about the children!?" Overdose on alcohol? Let's hope your parents have enough money for the funeral. Oh, but at least your dead son or daughter didn't smoke weed, right? I'm sure that will comfort you the rest of your life, as you try to deal with the premature, entirely avoidable death of your child.The science of cannabis shows that it's the very first thing you want to ingest after any brain trauma - concussion, whatever. In fact - our very own lying sack-of-crap government HOLDS THE PATENT ON CANNABINOIDS AS NEURO-PROTECTIVE agents. Neurons=what's in our brain. Protective=good (for all you anti-cannabis idiots).Lastly - I'd like to see the FDA studies on aspirin. You know, the million-dollar investigations you're demanding of cannabis before it can be profitized by the same douchebags that brought us Vioxx, PhenFen, Yaz, and countless other poisons that underwent FDA approval only to have short, brutal, insanely profitable runs in the marketplace maiming and killing patients from side effects before their deadly nature was brought to light.Don't buy into the party line that even now continues to demonize a plant in order to keep the pipeline full of prisoners to be squeezed by our "Justice" system for fines, prosecutor pay and police overtime pay. All cannabis prohibition does, aside from stonewalling the full implementation of this miracle plant, is protect jobs for cops, drug cartels, alcohol industries, drug-testing companies, lawyers, Big Lying Pharma, and everyone else who sees all us "little people" as financial fodder.
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Comment #3 posted by FoM on April 15, 2013 at 09:29:09 PT
Medical Marijuana Is Far From Medicine 
April 15, 2013Protecting children and vulnerable adults from the destruction substance abuse can cause should not be a partisan issue. In fact, saving a generation from the scourge of addictive drugs is going to require effective government policy, private sector ingenuity, and leaders of both major parties.That's why I've teamed up with former Democrat Congressman Patrick Kennedy and conservative author David Frum to support a new initiative to protect young people from drugs and roll back recent advances by groups seeking to expand drug use through legalization.URL:
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Comment #2 posted by The GCW on April 15, 2013 at 07:28:43 PT
Here follows an extract from "Notes on Democracy" by Henry Louis Mencken, written in 1926, during alcohol prohibition (1919-1933):The more obvious the failure becomes, the more shamelessly they exhibit their genuine motives. In plain words, what moves them is the psychological aberration called sadism. They lust to inflict inconvenience, discomfort, and whenever possible, disgrace upon the persons they hate, which is to say: upon everyone who is free from their barbarous theological superstitions, and is having a better time in the world than they are.They cannot stop the use of alcohol, nor even appreciably diminish it, but they can badger and annoy everyone who seeks to use it decently, and they can fill the jails with men taken for purely artificial offences, and they can get satisfaction thereby for the Puritan yearning to browbeat and injure, to torture and terrorize, to punish and humiliate all who show any sign of being happy. And all this they can do with a safe line of policemen and judges in front of them; always they can do it without personal risk.Posted as a comment atMarijuana bills on legislative agenda
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Comment #1 posted by The GCW on April 15, 2013 at 07:16:26 PT
It's that time of year again.
420Denver's 4/20 pot parties a "coming out for cannabis"
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