Newsbrief: Canadian Study to Examine Safety of Medical Marijuana 12/24/04

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Even as Canada moves toward becoming the first country to approve a cannabis-based prescription medicine, an extract known as Sativex (see newsbrief this issue), Canadian researchers announced Tuesday that they are commencing a study of the safety of smoked marijuana as medicine. The study known as COMPASS (Cannabis for the Management of Pain: Assessment of Safety Study) will track 1,400 people with chronic pain for one year. Canada already allows for the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes under a program that is administered by Health Canada. Still, no studies of the safety of medical marijuana have been done in that country.

"Other studies are looking at whether cannabis relieves pain and other symptoms," said principal investigator Dr. Mark Ware, a pain physician at McGill University Health Centre Pain Centre, in a statement announcing the COMPASS study. "These studies are important, but we also need to know how safe cannabis used for medical purposes actually is. The experience of recreational users gives us some information, but we must understand safety issues in patients who are taking multiple medications and who may have diseases like high blood pressure or diabetes, which complicate the picture," Ware said.

"Patients in COMPASS will typically have pain resulting from spinal cord injuries, multiple sclerosis, arthritis or other kinds of hard-to-treat injuries or muscle pain. We are not recruiting cancer patients for this study," Ware added.

The COMPASS patients will be smoking (or vaporizing) pot with about 12% THC provided under contract to Health Canada. "COMPASS participants will be given access to research-grade herbal cannabis and followed for one year. We'll be looking at a range of safety issues, including adverse events, kidney, liver, heart and lung function, and hormone levels," said Dr. Jean-Paul Collet, another principal investigator and a professor of epidemiology at McGill. "Patients will also do tests at the start and end of the study, to help determine whether medical use of cannabis affects cognitive function," Collet added.

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Issue #368 -- 12/24/04

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Editorial: Jury Manipulation | Conflict Over Pain Management Heats Up as Mainstream Medical Groups Wake Up | In Run-Up to New European Union Drug Strategy, European Parliament Adopts Report Critical of Continued Drug War | Young Reformers Give Drug Czar Hard Time at Monitoring the Future Press Conference | DRCNet Book Review: Under The Influence: The Disinformation Guide to Drugs, Edited by Preston Peet (The Disinformation Company Ltd., 2004, 312 pages, $24.95) | Legalization Talk | Newsbrief: Senior Citizens Support Medical Marijuana, AARP Poll Finds | Newsbrief: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories | Newsbrief: From Federal Prison, Martha Stewart Calls for Sentencing Reform | Newsbrief: Anachronistic Law Could Hamper Hemp in South Africa | Newsbrief: Dutch Open First Retirement Home for Junkies | Newsbrief: Hungarian High Court Overturns Drug Reforms | Newsbrief: Intelligence Bill Yields New Federal Drug Fighter Position | Newsbrief: First Cannabis-Based Prescription Drug Wins Preliminary Approval in Canada | Newsbrief: Canadian Study to Examine Safety of Medical Marijuana | Newsbrief: Illinois Nurses Join Growing List of Nursing Groups Supporting Medical Marijuana | Media Scan: Reason on Pain, Cockburn on Webb, Grits for Breakfast, Faith Under Fire, BJS | This Week in History | Apply Now to Intern at Drcnet! | Job Opportunity at MAPS | DrugWarMarket.Com Seeking Information, Affiliations, Link Exchanges | The Reformer's Calendar

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