Pubdate: Wed, 09 Jul 2003
Source: SF Weekly (CA)
Copyright: 2003 New Times Inc
Author: Bruce Mirken



Smith might want to do more research the next time he writes about
medical marijuana. He dismisses the scientific evidence as "the
emphatic statements of a few doctors who believe strongly in medical
marijuana" and claims that "the active drug contained in the marijuana
plant, THC, is considered a third choice in the treatment of
chemotherapy-induced nausea" -- which he incorrectly labels "the
primary medical use of marijuana."

In fact, as noted in an authoritative review in the May 2003 issue of
The Lancet Neurology, THC is just one of approximately 60 active
marijuana components, known as cannabinoids. While many are in need of
further study, there is abundant evidence that cannabinoids other than
THC play a significant role in marijuana's therapeutic effects.

The Lancet Neurology article further noted the growing evidence for
marijuana's benefit in the relief of pain and a variety of
neurological illnesses, stating, "Cannabinoids inhibit pain in
virtually every experimental pain paradigm." Indeed, a liquid
marijuana extract has shown such remarkable benefit to patients
suffering from multiple sclerosis and severe neuropathic pain that it
is expected to be licensed for sale in Great Britain before the end of
the year. International pharmaceutical giant Bayer AG has already
signed an agreement to handle marketing of this product (which, alas,
will not reach the U.S. for years, if at all).

Organizations supporting legal access to medical marijuana include,
among others, the California Medical Association, California Nurses
Association, American Public Health Association, American Academy of
Family Physicians, and the New York State Association of County Health
Officials, among many others.

Bruce Mirken

Director of Communications

Marijuana Policy Project

Washington, D.C.
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