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by Peter Gorman, Special To HighWitness News
Sunday, Jun. 30, 2002 at 4:00 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.
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
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?
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
Related Articles & Web Site:
Patients Out of Time
Missoula Chronic Cannabis Use Research Study
Journal of Cannabis Therapeutics
CannabisNews Search - Ethan Russo M.D.
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