Pubdate: Sun, 15 Aug 2004
Source: Sun-Herald (Australia)
Copyright: 2004 John Fairfax Holdings Ltd
Author: Miranda Wood, Health Reporter
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)


Nearly two-thirds of people using marijuana for medical reasons had
decreased or stopped taking other medications early, results of a
State Government survey show.

The survey, an Australian first, was conducted by the National Drug
and Alcohol Research Centre.

Participants reported cannabis was useful in preventing side effects
caused by conventional medicines.

The most common medical conditions the cannabis users suffered were
arthritis, chronic pain, depression, nausea, muscle spasms and weight

More than 70 per cent were concerned about marijuana's illegality and
54 per cent were scared of being arrested, but were willing to take
the risk for the benefits of the drug.

The centre's information manager, Paul Dillon, said: "Some say they
believe that if they get caught it won't be that bad because they are
using it for a medical condition."

Preliminary findings show that 70 per cent of those using medical
marijuana would be willing to be involved in a trial of an alternative
form of cannabis, such as a spray.

Mr Dillon said some believed a tablet or spray would be less effective
than natural cannabis, but they wanted to experiment because of their
concerns over smoking it.

He said a young man suffering fibromyalgia, a chronic illness causing
muscle aches and fatigue, said in the survey: "I would rather risk
being arrested than not being able to function in a normal state.

"The drugs that I take for pain are bad enough as it is. If cannabis
helps and I can function a hell of a lot better, then I am going to
use it and continue to use it."

Last year NSW Premier Bob Carr announced a trial of the therapeutic
benefits of cannabis.

The survey was one of the recommendations of the NSW working party on
the medical use of cannabis.

To participate in the mail-out survey, contact the National Drug and
Alcohol Research Centre on 9385 0333 or email Peter Gates at  ---
MAP posted-by: Larry Seguin