Despite the ongoing political debate regarding the legality of medical marijuana, clinical investigations of the therapeutic use of cannabinoids are now more prevalent than at any time in history.
For example, in February 2010 investigators at the University of California Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research publicly announced the findings of a series of randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trials on the medical utility of inhaled cannabis. The studies, which utilized the so-called ‘gold standard’ FDA clinical trail design, concluded that marijuana ought to be a “first line treatment” for patients with neuropathy and other serious illnesses.
Among the studies conducted by the Center, four assessed smoked marijuana’s ability to alleviate neuropathic pain, a notoriously difficult to treat type of nerve pain associated with cancer, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, spinal cord injury and many other debilitating conditions. Each of the trials found that cannabis consistently reduced patients’ pain levels to a degree that was as good or better than currently available medications.
Another study conducted by the Center’s investigators assessed the use of marijuana as a treatment for patients suffering from multiple sclerosis. That study determined that “smoked cannabis was superior to placebo in reducing spasticity and pain in patients with MS, and provided some benefit beyond currently prescribed treatments.”
Around the globe, similarly controlled trials are also taking place. A 2010 review by researchers in Germany reports that since 2005 there have been 37 controlled studies assessing the safety and efficacy of marijuana and its naturally occurring compounds in a total of 2,563 subjects. By contrast, most FDA-approved drugs go through far fewer trials involving far fewer subjects.
While much of the renewed interest in cannabinoid therapeutics is a result of the discovery of the endocannabinoid regulatory system (which we describe in detail later in this booklet), some of this increased attention is also due to the growing body of testimonials from medical cannabis patients and their physicians. Nevertheless, despite this influx of anecdotal reports, much of the modern investigation of medical cannabis remains limited to preclinical (animal) studies of individual cannabinoids (e.g. THC orcannabidiol) and/or synthetic cannabinoid agonists (e.g., dronabinol or WIN 55,212-2) rather than clinical trial investigations involving whole plant material. Because of the US government’s strong public policy stance against any use of cannabis, the bulk of this modern cannabinoid research is predictably taking place outside the United States.
As clinical research into the therapeutic value of cannabinoids has proliferated – there are now an estimated 20,000 published papers in the scientific literature analyzing marijuana and its constituents — so too has investigators’ understanding of cannabis’ remarkable capability to combat disease. Whereas researchers in the 1970s, 80s, and 90s primarily assessed cannabis’ ability to temporarily alleviate various disease symptoms — such as the nausea associated with cancer chemotherapy — scientists today are exploring the potential role of cannabinoids to modify disease.
Of particular interest, scientists are investigating cannabinoids’ capacity to moderate autoimmune disorders such as multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and inflammatory bowel disease, as well as their role in the treatment of neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (a.k.a. Lou Gehrig’s disease.) In fact, in 2009, the American Medical Association (AMA) resolved for the first time in the organization’s history “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.”
Investigators are also studying the anti-cancer activities of cannabis, as a growing body of preclinical and clinical data concludes that cannabinoids can reduce the spread of specific cancer cells via apoptosis (programmed cell death) and by the inhibition of angiogenesis (the formation of new blood vessels). Arguably, these latter findings represent far broader and more significant applications for cannabinoid therapeutics than researchers could have imagined some thirty or even twenty years ago.
THE SAFETY PROFILE OF MEDICAL CANNABIS
Cannabinoids have a remarkable safety record, particularly when compared to other therapeutically active substances. Most significantly, the consumption of marijuana – regardless of quantity or potency — cannot induce a fatal overdose. According to a 1995 review prepared for the World Health Organization, “There are no recorded cases of overdose fatalities attributed to cannabis, and the estimated lethal dose for humans extrapolated from animal studies is so high that it cannot be achieved by … users.”
In 2008, investigators at McGill University Health Centre and McGill University in Montreal and the University of British Columbia in Vancouver reviewed 23 clinical investigations of medical cannabinoid drugs (typically oral THC or liquid cannabis extracts) and eight observational studies conducted between 1966 and 2007. Investigators “did not find a higher incidence rate of serious adverse events associated with medical cannabinoid use” compared to non-using controls over these four decades.
That said, cannabis should not necessarily be viewed as a ‘harmless’ substance. Its active constituents may produce a variety of physiological and euphoric effects. As a result, there may be some populations that are susceptible to increased risks from the use of cannabis, such as adolescents, pregnant or nursing mothers, and patients who have a family history of mental illness. Patients with hepatitis C, decreased lung function (such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), or who have a history of heart disease or stroke may also be at a greater risk of experiencing adverse side effects from marijuana. As with any medication, patients should consult thoroughly with their physician before deciding whether the medical use of cannabis is safe and appropriate.
HOW TO USE THIS REPORT
As states continue to approve legislation enabling the physician-supervised use of medical marijuana, more patients with varying disease types are exploring the use of therapeutic cannabis. Many of these patients and their physicians are now discussing this issue for the first time and are seeking guidance on whether the therapeutic use of cannabis may or may not be advisable. This report seeks to provide this guidance by summarizing the most recently published scientific research (2000-2010) on the therapeutic use of cannabis and cannabinoids for 19 clinical indications:
* Alzheimer’s disease
* Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
* Chronic pain
* Diabetes mellitus
* Gastrointestinal disorders
* Gliomas/other cancers
* Hepatitis C
* Human Immunodeficiency Virus
* Methicillin-resistant Staphyloccus aureus (MRSA)
* Multiple sclerosis
* Rheumatoid arthritis
* Sleep apnea
* Tourette’s syndrome
In some of these cases, modern science is now affirming longtime anecdotal reports of medical cannabis users (e.g., the use of cannabis to alleviate GI disorders). In other cases, this research is highlighting entirely new potential clinical utilities for cannabinoids (e.g., the use of cannabinoids to modify the progression of diabetes.)
The conditions profiled in this report were chosen because patients frequently inquire about the therapeutic use of cannabis to treat these disorders. In addition, many of the indications included in this report may be moderated by cannabis therapy. In several cases, preclinical data and clinical data indicate that cannabinoids may halt the progression of these diseases in a more efficacious manner than available pharmaceuticals.
For patients and their physicians, this report can serve as a primer for those who are considering using or recommending medical cannabis. For others, this report can serve as an introduction to the broad range of emerging clinical applications for cannabis and its various compounds.
NORML | NORML Foundation
January 7, 2011
* The author would like to acknowledge Drs. Dale Gieringer, Dustin Sulak, Gregory Carter, Steven Karch, and Mitch Earleywine, as well as Bernard Ellis, MPH, former NORML interns John Lucy, Christopher Rasmussen, and Rita Bowles, for providing research assistance for this report. The NORML Foundation would also like to acknowledge Dale Gieringer, Paul Kuhn, and Richard Wolfe for their financial contributions toward the publication of this report.
** Important and timely publications such as this are only made possible when concerned citizens become involved with NORML. For more information on joining NORML or making a donation, please visit: http://www.norml.org/join. Tax-deductible donations in support of NORML’s public education campaigns should be made payable to the NORML Foundation.
Anne Hathaway has been cast as Selina Kyle — the original Catwoman — in the next ‘Batman’ film, ‘The Dark Knight Rises.’
Warner Brothers confirmed the casting, which was rumored earlier this month.
Selina Kyle made her first appearance in the Batman series in 1940 in Batman #1. She plays both a villain and ally to Batman, often a love interest. Michelle Pfeifer played the role in the 1992 film, ‘Batman Returns.’
Here’s the official statement, via Deadline.com:
BURBANK, CA, January 19, 2011 – Warner Bros. Pictures announced today that Anne Hathaway has been cast as Selina Kyle in Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight Rises.” She will be starring alongside Christian Bale, who returns in the title role of Bruce Wayne/Batman.Christopher Nolan stated, “I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work with Anne Hathaway, who will be a fantastic addition to our ensemble as we complete our story.”
In addition, Tom Hardy has been set to play Bane. Nolan said, “I am delighted to be working with Tom again and excited to watch him bring to life our new interpretation of one of Batman’s most formidable enemies.”
Nolan will direct the film from a screenplay he wrote with Jonathan Nolan, from a story by Christopher Nolan and David S. Goyer. Nolan will also produce the film with his longtime producing partner, Emma Thomas, and Charles Roven.
All aboard the crazy-awesome train!
Justin Bieber, Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne will appear in a Best Buy commercial to air during the Super Bowl, the company revealed today.
“We’re delighted to have Justin and Ozzy help us tell the Best Buy story,” said Drew Panayiotou, senior vice president of U.S. marketing at Best Buy. “We know people have high expectations for these ads, and Justin and Ozzy add a whole new dimension of fun.”
The spot was shot earlier this month, and it appears Bieber, 16, dropped a few hints on Twitter. “Can’t really say what I’m up to today but when you guys find out it’s gonna be funny as heck,” he wrote on January 17, adding, “#todaywasepic.”
Order your copy of the new Us Weekly’s Justin Bieber: My Private World
The 30-second ad will run in the third quarter of the Packers-Steelers showdown on February 6.
The acting legend and longtime model girlfriend welcomed twin sons Julian Henry and Aaron Kendrick in 1995. De Niro has three other children from his two marriages.
Personally, I was a bit surprised when i saw this…..just thought I’d pass it along
The 25-year old crossed the line in Sept. 2010 when he was arrested in Las Vegas with possession of a controlled substance. Mars performed at the Wasted Space nightclub at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino before he was suspected by a bathroom attendant of doing drugs in the men’s room. A security guard was alerted and Mars, confronted on the spot, allegedly reached into his jeans and handed over a bag containing more than two grams of cocaine.
The ‘Grenade’ and ‘Just The Way You Are’ singer told an officer he had acted foolishly and never tried drugs before in his life. If convicted, Mars could have been sentenced to four years behind bars.
Mars accepted a deal where he will pay a $2,000 fine, perform 200 hours of community service and complete drug counseling. If he has no other run-ins with the law for a year, no conviction will remain on his record.
Fortunately for Mars, this plea agreement allows him to step past the cocaine charge just in time for the 53rd Grammy Awards. He is nominated for seven awards, including best male pop vocal for his hit “Just the Way You Are.”
The pair made headlines in October last year when they were rumored to be dating after they were photographed together at a club in New Orleans.
UsMagazine.com reports that a source said Handler, 35, dumped 50 Cent just before the holidays, leaving the 35-year-old rapper “heartbroken.”
The source said 50 Cent was determined to win her back and, “spent Christmas sending her gifts, but she sent them back. She put a note on one that said, ‘I can buy my own gifts.'”
Handler has denied that there was anything going on with the rapper even after she tweeted anintimate photo of them cuddling in bed, with Handler planting a big fat kiss on 50 Cent.
Alongside the photo she said, “I don’t know why anyone thinks I would ever date a rapper.”
But when she was asked about their romance in early January, Handler told UsMagazine.com, “People still think we’re dating? No! Really?” She continues, “He’s sweet, though. I love him, but we’re not dating.”
Handler goes on, “I don’t know if I can handle him, to be honest. I like to have fun and I’m really trying to not get into anything too serious.”
Rihanna and Chris Brown are back in court — under slightly less aggressive circumstances.
Nearly two years after Brown beat then-girlfriend Rihanna bloody and sent her to the emergency room, he is seeking to have her restraining order against him lifted, Radar Online reports.
His attorney, Mark Geragos, said that the restraining order, “makes it difficult at award shows and such,” (both are nominated for multiple Grammys) and pointed out that Brown hadcompleted the required 52 weeks of domestic violence counseling, as well as 582 of his required 1400 hours community service, which he began by cleaning a horse stable.
It’s been a long road back for both stars since the beating. After briefly reuniting — which Rihanna later confessed was embarrassing, as he had been violent on multiple occasions — she came out with an album filled with emotional songs about the incident, and spoke to GQ about the beating in December of 2009, saying she had finally let go.
For a time, she dated LA Dodgers star Matt Kemp, though the relationship ended this winter.
Brown has had a harder time getting back in the public’s good graces; his emotional, tear-filled breakdown during a Michael Jackson tribute performance drew criticism, while more recently, he got into a Twitter fight in which he used homophobic epithets.
For more on the case in court, click over to Radar Online.