Surprise. Medical marijuana really helps. What millions of us have known ever since friends with AIDS proved it more than a decade ago is now affirmed. San Francisco Chronicle writers Victoria Colliver and Wyatt Buchanan broke the news today:
The first U.S. clinical trials in more than 20 years on the medical efficacy of marijuana found that pot helps relieve pain and muscle spasms associated with multiple sclerosis and certain neurological conditions, according to a report released Wednesday by a UC research center.
Dr. Igor Grant, a UC San Diego psychiatrist who directs the center, called the report “good evidence” that marijuana would be an effective front-line treatment for neuropathy, a condition that can cause tingling, numbness and pain.
The results of five state-funded scientific clinical trials came 14 years after California voters passed a law approving marijuana for medical use and more than 10 years after the state Legislature passed a law that created the Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research at UC San Diego, which conducted the studies.
California’s Proposition 215, passed in 1996, allows patients with a valid doctor’s recommendation to grow and possess marijuana for personal medical use. It is one of 14 state laws legalizing medical marijuana. But the federal government still says pot is illegal and without medical benefit. Perhaps that may now change.
“This is the first step in approaching the (U.S. Food and Drug Administration), which has invested absolutely nothing in providing scientific data to resolve the debate,” said state Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, who noted that marijuana showed benefits throughout the AIDS epidemic in helping people afflicted with neuropathy and other ailments.
Dale Gieringer, a Berkeley resident who is executive director of the California branch of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, agreed.
“This is finally the evidence that shows that the (U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration) stance that marijuana does not have medical use is just wrong,” he said. “It’s time for the Obama administration to act.”
The bad news is that funding for research that could further confirm the potential medical benefits of marijuana may soon run out.
The Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research has approved 15 clinical studies, five of which were completed and reported Wednesday, and two are in progress. While researchers said more studies are needed, the future of the center is in doubt.
The center has spent all but $400,000 of the $8.9 million in research funding it started with in 1999. Leno said the state doesn’t have the money to continue funding it.
“It may be close to the end of its life unless there’s foundation money to continue the work,” Leno said.
If we could just combine the savings that could accrue from getting the feds out of the pot-prosecution business and the taxes that would accrue from legalization of medicinal use, a lot of that work could continue. And a lot of suffering could be alleviated.