Monday, November 5, 2007

1998 - Study Targets Stalemate Over Medicinal Use of Marijuana
San Jose Mercury News (CA)
July 19, 1998
Lisa M. Krieger

This is an older article discussing the first government-sanctioned marijuana research project since 1978. The researcher, Donald Abrams, underwent a rigorous process to get his proposal approved by the NIH on the affects of marijuana and HIV. About 60 volunteers were given marijuana three times a day for three weeks, all with HIV. This article was written during the time of the study, so the results hadn't been published yet. However, what was going on between 1978 and the year of the study, 1998? Marijuana was classified as a Schedule 1 controlled substance—on the same level as heroin and LSD. In 1978, the government started a program and distributed the drug under and Investigational New Drug procedure. However, the program was suspended in 1991 because there were too many requests for marijuana-related studies. Since then, the government made it's Schedule 1 ruling. What's interesting to note is that the government has a legal marijuana farm just outside the property of the University of Mississippi, which was originally created for the 1978 program. Under the jurisdiction of the Research Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, it's the only legal marijuana plantation in the United States.

However, between the years of 1978 and 1998, there seems to be a lack of conclusive evidence on the actual scientific affects of marijuana on various illnesses. Getting approval from the government for scientific studies involving marijuana is exceedingly difficult, and the researcher went through multiple submissions of his proposal before he was granted permission. Marijuana seemed (and seems?) to be such a controversial and taboo topic that automatically the government denies project proposals. Perhaps it's a backlash from the high numbers of marijuana project requests following the 1978 program commencement. In an effort to remedy the mistake of giving the public image for endorsing medicinal marijuana, the government wanted to convey the image that they are not promoting the drug for any purpose. The costs to create the image of an anti-drug government may have hurt the people in the long run—if more projects were approved, there would be more conclusive evidence on marijuana, either clinically supporting it or ending all rumors of a medical benefit. Although the government wouldn't have the same image, wouldn't it be worth the potential benefits? Also, I don't think its a coincidence that the first approved medicinal marijuana experiment was not on the illness that medicinal marijuana is most associated with—cancer. The widespread use of marijuana for cancer may be too controversial for the government to be ready to accept in 1998.
July 13, 2000
Alic Trinkl
“Marijuana does not appear to alter viral loads of HIV patients taking protease inhibitors”

What were the results of the mentioned study? All politics aside and two years later, it turns out that marijuana doesn't alter the viral loads of HIV patients that are taking protease inhibitors. There were no short term adverse virologic effects, which puts some worries to rest that patients who are smoking are doing more damage to themselves. The enzyme that breaks down marijuana is the same enzyme that breaks down the protease inhibitor drugs used to treat HIV, so there could have been possible side effects. The study was divided into three arms—smoking marijuana cigarettes, taking the drug orally, and a placebo. Although there was no change in HIV RNA, which was used to measure the amount of HIV in a patient, the patients given marijuana through both methods gained double the weight of the patients taking the placebos. Medicinal marijuana may still have a use in the treatment of HIV, since often patients with AIDS lose significant amounts of weight.


1 comment:

Medical Marijuana said...
This comment has been removed by the author.