REPORT: Emerging Clinical Applications For Cannabis & Cannabinoids

Please take a moment today to check out NORML's new report: "Emerging Clinical Applications For Cannabis & Cannabinoids: A Review of the Recent Scientific Literature, 2000-2006." This report reviews over 120+ recently published studies on the medical use of cannabis and cannabinoids for 15 specific disease indications, and argues that cannabinoids may moderate the progression of various life-threatening diseases, rather than simply provide symptomatic relief. The 34 page report (which includes more than 150 citations to source material) is available online in both HTML and PDF formats at: http://www.norml.org//index.cfm?Group_ID=7002 The report will also be discussed on today's NORML podcast (with Mitch Earleywine) at: http://www.normlaudiostash.com I've included both a press release about the report, as well as an excerpt from the report's Introduction below. Best Regards, Paul Armentano Senior Policy Analyst NORML | NORML Foundation Washington, DC 202 | 483-5500 http://www.norml.org NEW REPORT SUMMARIZES THE ROLE OF CANNABIS IN MODERATING DISEASE PROGRESSION Review Of 120+ Recent Scientific Trials Reveals That In US, Politics Trumps Science Washington, DC: Recently published clinical and preclinical research on the therapeutic use of cannabis indicates that cannabinoids may curb the progression of various life-threatening diseases -- in particular, autoimmune disorders such as Multiple Sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease, as well as neurological disorders such as Alzheimer¹s disease and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (a.k.a. Lou Gehrig¹s disease) ­ according to a comprehensive new report published today by the NORML Foundation. The NORML Foundation report summarizes over 120 recently published trials assessing the therapeutic utility of cannabinoids for the treatment of fifteen specific disease indications: Alzheimer's Disease Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Diabetes Mellitus Dystonia Fibromyalgia Gastrointestinal Disorders Gliomas Hepatitis C Hypertension Incontinence Osteoporosis Pruritis Rheumatoid Arthritis Sleep Apnea Tourette's Syndrome "Despite continued political debates regarding the recreational use of cannabis, clinical investigations of the therapeutic use of cannabinoids are now more prevalent than at any time in history," states the report¹s author, NORML Foundation Senior Policy Analyst Paul Armentano. "In some of these cases, modern science is now affirming longtime anecdotal reports of medicinal cannabis users. In other cases, this research is highlighting entirely new potential clinical utilities for cannabinoids." Whereas initial clinical investigations into the therapeutic use of cannabis focused primarily on whether cannabinoids might provide symptomatic relief, investigators today are exploring the potential role of cannabinoids to inhibit the progression of several life-threatening diseases -- including cancer, Armentano says. "Arguably, this latter trend represents far broader and more significant applications for cannabinoid therapeutics than researchers could have imagined some thirty or even twenty years ago," he concludes. "Unfortunately, because of the US government¹s strong public policy stance against any use of marijuana, the bulk of this modern research is taking place outside the United States and continues to go unrecognized in North America. Nevertheless, the emerging body of clinical and preclinical work published over the past six years makes it clear that the US government's stance against the therapeutic use of cannabis and cannabinoids is based on politics, not science." Full text of the report, "Emerging Clinical Applications For Cannabis & Cannabinoids: A Review of the Recent Scientific Literature, 2000 - 2006," is available online in HTML and PDF formats at: http://www.norml.org/index.cfm?Group_ID=7002 For more information, please contact Paul Armentano, NORML Foundation Senior Policy Analyst, at (202) 483-5500 or via e-mail at: [email protected]. FROM THE INTRODUCTION: Despite continued political debates regarding the recreational use of cannabis, clinical investigations of the therapeutic use of cannabinoids are now more prevalent than at any time in history. A search of the PubMed website quantifies this dramatic upturn. For example, a key word search using the terms "cannabis, cannabinoids, THC, and marijuana" for the year 1982 yields only 231 published articles on the subject (down from the previous decade¹s high of 419 articles in 1972.) However, this annual total has been rising almost every year since then, with more than 800 journal articles published in 2002, and nearly 700 articles published during the first half of 2006. While much of the renewed interest in cannabinoid therapeutics is a result of the discovery of the endocannabinoid regulatory system, at least some of this increased attention is due to the growing body of testimonials from medicinal cannabis patients. Nevertheless, despite this influx of anecdotal reports, much of the modern investigation of cannabinoids remains limited to preclinical (animal) studies of individual cannabinoids (e.g. THC or cannabidiol) and/or synthetic cannabinoid agonists (e.g., dronabinol or WIN 55,212-2) rather than clinical trial investigations of whole smoked cannabis. Predictably, because of the US government's strong public policy stance against any use of cannabis, the bulk of this modern research is taking place outside the United States. While the initial clinical investigations of cannabis in the 1960s and 1970s primarily assessed the potential therapeutic use of cannabinoids to provide symptomatic relief (e.g.,the alleviation of chemotherapy-induce nausea), investigators today are now exploring the potential role of cannabis and cannabinoids to moderate the progression of various life-threatening diseases ‹ in particular, autoimmune disorders such as Multiple Sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease, as well as neurological disorders such as Alzheimer¹s disease and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (a.k.a. Lou Gehrig¹s disease.) Investigators are also beginning to study the anti-cancer activities of cannabinoids, as a growing number of recently published studies indicate the ability of cannabinoids to reduce the proliferation of specific cancer cells via apoptosis (program cell death) and by the inhibition of angiogenesis (the formation of new blood vessels). Arguably, these latter trends represent far broader and more significant applications for cannabinoid therapeutics than researchers could have imagined some thirty or even twenty years ago. The following report is a comprehensive summary of the most recently published research (2000-2006) on the therapeutic use cannabis and cannabinoids for 15 separate clinical indications: Alzheimer's disease, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, diabetes mellitus, dystonia,fibromyalgia, gastrointestinal disorders, gliomas,hepatitis C, hypertension, incontinence,osteoporosis, pruritis, rheumatoid arthritis, sleep apnea, and Tourette's syndrome. In some of these cases, modern science is now affirming longtime anecdotal reports of medicinal cannabis users (e.g., the use of cannabis to alleviate GI disorders). In other cases, this research is highlighting entirely new potential clinical utilities for cannabinoids (e.g., the use of cannabinoids to modify the progression of diabetes.) Readers familiar with the medical efficacy of cannabinoids will note that modern research highlighting more established therapeutic uses for cannabinoids, such as in the treatment of Multiple Sclerosis and chronic pain, are not included in this report. This is not because additional clinical investigations of cannabinoids for these established indications are not taking place. Rather, it is because research in these areas is already fairly well vetted in both the public and scientific arena. (e.g., Synthetic THC is already available by prescriptionin the US and Europe as an anti-emetic agent and appetite stimulant; natural cannabis extracts are available in Canada as an analgesic for MS-associated neuropathic pain.) It is NORML¹s hope that the modern science supporting the potential therapeutic use of cannabis and cannabinoids for the emerging indications addressed here will become equally well established among both the medicinal cannabis community and the public.
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