Chronic City: The Results Are In -- Medical Marijuana Works

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julianayrs.com
You can't argue with results.
"There's no proof that medical Marijuana works. It needs more study. There's only anecdotal evidence. It doesn't treat specific conditions. People just want to get high." Every cannabis advocate and medical Marijuana patient has run into these arguments, threadbare as they are in 2009. Even from professionals who should know better -- such as many medical doctors -- the same tired arguments come up again and again.

As baffling as it may be, just listening to the patients (what a concept!) isn't considered "proof" by the medical establishment, which considers such evidence interesting, but "merely" anecdotal.

But after a new groundbreaking round-up clinical evidence for the efficacy of medical pot, however, such misconceptions are going to be a lot easier to shoot down.

In the landmark article, published in the Journal of Opioid Management, University of Washington researcher Sunil Aggarwal and colleagues document no fewer than 33 controlled clinical trials -- published over a 38-year period from 1971 to 2009 -- confirming that Marijuana is a safe, effective medicine for specific medical conditions.

"The most common misconception among doctors and the general public regarding medical Marijuana is that its effectiveness claims are substantiated only by compelling anecdotes from patients," Aggarwal told SF Weekly. "What is not acknowledged is that 33 separate controlled clinical trials with patients --  at least a third of which are of gold standard design -- have been conducted and published in the United States by investigators at major research centers using the same federal cannabis supply and mode of delivery.

"In fact," Aggarwal and colleagues write, "nearly all of the 33 published controlled clinical trials conducted in the United States have shown significant and measurable benefits in subjects receiving the treatment."

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Photo by Joe Mabel
Dr. Sunil Aggarwal: The results are in.
Additionally, the article documents the growing acceptance of the therapeutic use of Marijuana among organized medicine groups. More than 7,000 American physicians (in the 13 states where medical Marijuana is legal) have signed medical Marijuana authorizations for a total of 400,000 patients, according to Aggarwal and colleagues.

Notably absent from medical Marijuana patients in the published trials -- and in glaring contrast to opiate drugs -- are withdrawal symptoms and other signs of drug dependence. Adverse effects were relatively rare, and "the vast majority of reported adverse effects were not serious... It is clear that as an analgesic, cannabis is extremely safe with minimal toxicity."

Unfortunately, ignorance regarding Marijuana still remains widespread, even in the medical community, according to the article. "There remains a near complete absence of education about cannabinoid medicine in any level of medical training," Aggarwal writes.

"This is arguably the most thorough review of the literature on medical Marijuana since the Institute of Medicine report over a decade ago, with a trove of data that wasn't available to the IOM," said Rob Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project, which works for legalization. "It is simply incomprehensible that a medicine that is so clearly safe and effective remains banned from medical use by federal law and the laws of 37 states."

Under current federal law, Marijuana is classified as a Schedule I drug, defining it as having high potential for abuse, unsafe for use even under medical supervision, and lacking currently accepted uses in the U.S.

The article, "Medicinal Use of Cannabis in the United States: Historical Perspectives, Current Trends, and Future Directions," is available here (PDF).

Aggarwal offers a complete list of the 33 U.S. clinical trials; contact him here.
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