(courtesy NORML Foundation, http://www.norml.org)

Oct. 7, 1999, Missoula, MT: The Food and Drug Administration has granted approval to Ethan Russo, MD, a Montana neurologist, to study the effects of smoked marijuana as compared to oral dronabinol (Marinol(R)) and injected sumatriptan (Imitrex(R)) in the treatment of migraine headaches. Russo will enroll 40 patients with severe migraines, and employ a double blind, double-dummy crossover design. (Neither the patients nor examiners will know whether they are employing real cannabis or THC-free cannabis or true dronabinol or a placebo.)

The study still faces a roadblock in the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). NIDA, the only American supplier of research marijuana, has recently changed its policy and will only provide marijuana to researchers whose studies have gained FDA approval as well as a NIDA Public Health Service review. "NIDA has added a new hoop through which cannabis researchers must jump," Russo said. "For any other substance, even cocaine or heroin, approval of an Investigative New Drug (IND) application by FDA allows the researcher to proceed directly to clinical trials. NIDA has thrown up a new and unnecessary barrier to this research."

If NIDA demands changes in the protocol, Russo would need to file another IND application with the FDA, which would cause further delays. In the meantime, the delay hinders Russo's ability to raise funding from private sources for the projected $250,000 study. "Dr. Russo's chances of obtaining approval for his marijuana/migraine study from NIDA's Public Health Service review are very good, simply because NIDA needs to show that it isn't blocking research," said Rick Doblin, President of Multidisciplanary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS). "For me the most intriguing question is not whether the protocol will be approved but what will NIDA charge for one pound of its low potency pot, which is all that Dr. Russo needs for his study."

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Issue #111, 10/8/99 Governor Johnson Comes to Washington -- Meets with Students, Drug Policy Reformers -- Gets Blasted by McCaffrey | BREAKING!! McCaffrey In New Mexico: Claims Johnson Told College Students "Heroin Use is Great," Students Refute | Canada: Drug War Refugee Faces New Challenges | Minnesota Governor to President Clinton: Let Us Grow Hemp! | UK: Tabloid Press Gets Tough on Political Correctness | FDA Approves Marijuana Study on Migraines, Final Approval Awaits NIDA Review | Australian Capitol Territory Drug Strategy Stresses Harm Reduction, Calls for Safe-Injection Rooms | News in Brief | Editorial: The Crusaders

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