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Medical Marijuana: National MS Society Takes Half-Step Toward Recognizing Therapeutic Uses

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #546)
Drug War Issues

The National MS Society has released an expert opinion paper that marijuana has the potential to treat MS symptoms and limit the progression of the disease, but stopped short of recommending that MS patients use the drug.

"Although it is clear that cannabinoids have potential both for the management of MS symptoms such as pain and spasticity, as well as for neuroprotection, the Society cannot at this time recommend that medical marijuana be made widely available to people with MS for symptom management," the society concluded. "This situation might change,
should better data become available that clearly demonstrate benefit."

The society called for future clinical trials on methods of administration that rapidly deliver cannabinoids to the bloodstream, such as vaporization. It also called for clinical trials to study medical marijuana's potential to slow the progression of the disease. It cited "anecdotal reports from patients... that cannabis reduces the frequency of their MS attacks."

With clinical data already reported showing that whole plant cannabinoid extracts relieved pain, spasticity, and incontinence, more clinical studies ongoing, and countless anecdotal accounts from patients, some suggest the society is being overly cautious.

"The MS Society's recommendations are a positive step, but they don't go far enough. Surveys indicate that as many as one out of two MS patients use cannabis therapeutically, yet this report does nothing to challenge these patients' legal status as criminals," said Paul Armentano, deputy director of NORML, in a statement responding to the expert opinion.

Still, it is progress for the MS Society. It was only two years ago that the society, finally heeding the pleas of the people it is supposed to serve, first funded medical marijuana clinical trials. Before that, the MS Society had been indifferent, if not hostile, to medical marijuana. One half-step at a time.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


Anonymous (not verified)

The National MS Society, in an expert opinion paper, admits "it is clear that cannabinoids have
potential...for the management of MS symptoms such as pain and spasticity" and that,
"there are sufficient data available to suggest that cannabinoids may have neuroprotective effects."

So why did the National MS Society say that they "cannot at this time recommend that medical marijuana be made widely available to people with MS for symptom management"? The decision was based partly on "existing legal barriers to its use." In other words, MS patients cannot use marijuana because it's illegal! Did it never occur to the National MS Society to join the countless patients and organizations in the U.S. that recommend that the law be changed? And what about the MS patients in the 12 states where medical marijuana IS legal?

The MS Society also says, "Studies to date do not demonstrate a clear benefit compared to existing symptomatic therapies." Doesn't "grown at home for pennies, easy to self-titrate, and no fatal overdoses" qualify as clear benefits compared to existing therapies? Why do cannabinoids have to demonstrate that they are clearly superior to other therapies? No other drug is held to that standard. Aren’t "safe and effective" good enough criteria to support use of cannabinoids?

The National MS Society is also concerned that "issues of side effects, systemic effects, and long-term effects are not yet clear." That’s only because the MS Society ignores the thousands of patients in the U.S. who have been safely using medical marijuana for decades. If the National MS Society is really concerned, it should demand that the DEA stop its shameful and continuing pattern of obstructing research on these issues.

Ken Wolski, RN, MPA
Executive Director, Coalition for Medical Marijuana New Jersey, Inc.
[email protected]

Wed, 08/13/2008 - 6:12pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

I have been smoking pot from a teenager. I stopped for 8 months, two years ago, six months later I had my first attack. I am now on all sorts of meds, but, if I smoke I do not need anything, except to help me with the exhaustion which has always been present. I think it is much better for people to take one drug that helps with multiple problems then 7-10 pills with all sorts of side affects. Now my liver is out of whack, after two years.

Mon, 09/08/2008 - 11:01pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

I was diagnoised with ms about 2 years ago, not long after giving birth to my son. I always smoked pot as a teenager but know at the age of 27. I understand why pot should be legal in every state.

Wed, 09/10/2008 - 6:39pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

I am sick from multiple sclerosis and the only medication i take besides my dilantin for my seizures is marijuana! I know for a fact that marijuana is medicine and i don;t think that we should be punished for using it as medicine when its the only medication that works for my illness,to relax me and my bladder so im not urinating all over myself and also for the pain associated with my illness so Please help me do the right thing and legalize medical marijuana not only in my home state but all of the usa!

Fri, 09/19/2008 - 6:51pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

If you can treat yourself at home or without doctor "permission" then no one has control over you. That means lower profits for medical, biotech, and pharmaceutical companies which are owned and operated by government officials' cronies. As well as the possibility of seeing the manipulation other companies use on you as well. There is a war going on for your mind. You are constantly being programed to buy buy buy use more and more drugs and give over control of your mind to another individual deemed by others to have authority over you. People who can see this are more difficult to control as they understand that these "authorities" don't have their best interests in mind. People who are comforted with the idea of authority taking care of them are the ones who are fighting the legalization of drugs that are more effective and safer than the multitudes of pharmadeath concoctions that breeze through bribed officials at the FDA only to be revealed later to be ineffective and/or more dangerous than the condition it is purportedly treating. This is the same mentality that regulates every aspect of our lives by those who would try and save your soul for your own good. It it these people that elect and defend the atrocities of those "authorities" regardless of what interests they serve. Even if it is against their own best self interest. Authoritarianism is sweeping the globe if you are thinking you are winning. Too many people have too much to lose if people start understanding and seeing the reality of what's going on.

Fri, 09/19/2008 - 9:43pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)


Fri, 02/12/2010 - 11:48am Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)


Fri, 02/12/2010 - 11:48am Permalink

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