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Long-Term Pot-Use Study: No Ill Effects

by Peter Gorman, Special To HighWitness News Sunday, Jun. 30, 2002 at 10:50 PM

In the first study of its kind, four recipients of federally provided medical marijuana were examined for the health effects of their long-term cannabis use and none showed any serious adverse effects.

Van Gogh & Gauguin function LoadFrames(url1) { locstr = new String(frames.content.location); if (locstr.indexOf("home/intro.html") != -1 || locstr.indexOf("home/intro_nl.html") != -1) { loc = (url1); frames.content.location.replace("/home/content/content_frameset.html"); } else { frames.content.frameset.location.replace(url1); } } function LoadLang(lang) { if (lang == "nl") { frames.topnav.location.replace("/home/nav/topnav_nl.html"); frames.content.location.replace("/home/intro_nl.html"); } if (lang == "en") { frames.topnav.location.replace("/home/nav/topnav_en.html"); frames.content.location.replace("/home/intro.html"); } } isNS = document.layers ? true : false isIE = document.all ? true : false rowsize = 100; left = 48; right = 50; if (isNS) {rowsize = 106}; document.write(''); document.write(''); document.write('n'); document.write(''); document.write(''); document.write(''); document.write(''); document.write(''); In the first study of its kind, four recipients of federally provided medical marijuana were examined for the health effects of their long-term cannabis use-and none showed any serious adverse effects.

The Missoula Chronic Clinical Cannabis Use Study-headed by Montana neurologist Dr. Ethan Russo and Virginia nurse Mary Lynn Mathre, cofounder of Patients Out of Time-investigated "the therapeutic benefits and adverse effects" among patients receiving cannabis through the department of Health and Human Services' Compassionate Investigational New Drug program.

That program was closed to new applicants in 1991, but continues to supply medical marijuana to seven patients.
The four patients studied-one with glaucoma, one with chronic musculoskeletal pain, one with spasm and nausea, and one with spasticity from multiple sclerosis-were run through a battery of tests, including magnetic-resonance-imaging brain scans, chest X-rays, and neuropsychological, immunological and pulmonary-functions tests. The study provided the first opportunity to investigate the long-term physical effects of cannabis-smoking on patients who used a "known dosage of a standardized, heat-sterilized, quality-controlled supply of low-grade marijuana for 10-19 years."

The results, which will be published in the Journal of Cannabis Therapeutics in January 2002, showed "all four patients are stable with respect to their chronic conditions, and are taking many fewer standard pharmaceuticals than previously." Mild changes in pulmonary function were found in two of the four, but no cancer cells were detected. No other negative functions were discovered.

The study, conducted at St. Patrick's Hospital in Missoula, Montana, was sponsored by Patients Out of Time and funded by outside individuals.

"This is a positive result using a poor-quality medicine. What could we expect using a better quality cannabis?" Al Byrne, Patients Out of Time's other cofounder, told HT. Asked whether he thought the study would result in a reopening of the Compassionate IND program, Byrne bristled. "No. I don't think it will, but it should. I think the study's effect on the government will be that they will no longer be able to say that long-term therapeutic cannabis use is bad for you. But will the federal government pay it any heed? Probably not."

When asked why it took a nonprofit to organize the study rather than the government, Byrne noted that "I suppose because they suspected the result of the study would be positive and the government does not want anything positive said about cannabis use as medicine. That's the bottom line."

Note: The government says smoking pot is bad for your health, particularly in the long run. But four of the seven people it supplies have been looked at from every angle, and researchers conclude that their marijuana use hasn't hurt them a bit.

Newshawk: Ethan Russo, MD
Source: High Times (US)
Author: Peter Gorman, Special To HighWitness News
Published: August 1, 2001
Copyright: 2001 Trans-High Corporation
Contact: letters@hightimes.com
Website: http://www.hightimes.com/

Related Articles & Web Site:

Patients Out of Time

Missoula Chronic Cannabis Use Research Study

Journal of Cannabis Therapeutics

Herbal Answers

CannabisNews Search - Ethan Russo M.D.

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