Pubdate: Tue, 29 Dec 1998 
Source: Columbian, The (WA)
Copyright: 1998 The Columbian Publishing Co.
Author: Gae Stanley


Scientific research of the chemicals in cannabis reveal how it can be used
medicinally. Marijuana contains more than 60 cannabinoids, the
pharmacologically active substances in the plant. Many of these aren't
psychoactive and produce no "high."

One in particular, cannabidiol or CBD, has been intensively studied for its
anti-spasmodic properties. The human body has two known cannabinoid
receptor sites.

With grants from the U.S. government and the Muscular Dystrophy
Association, the University of Arizona Medical Center conducted an
FDA-approved study of CBD in 1986. The cannabinoid was given to patients
diagnosed with dystonia movement disorders (similar to Parkinson's
disease). The International Journal of Neuroscience published the results.
The Annals of Neurology and the Journal of Neurology published similar
studies done on multiple sclerosis patients who had cannabinoids given to

In all cases, the researchers concluded that cannabis has powerful
beneficial affects, reducing painful muscle spasticity. Based on hundreds
of clinical studies proving marijuana relieves suffering in certain medical
conditions, the Journal of the American Medical Association publicly called
for the federal government to allow marijuana to be used medicinally.

It is now known that tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive ingredient in
marijuana, is not always solely responsible for medicinal action. The
nonpsychoactive cannabinoids working synergistically with THC are equally
valuable. This is part of the reason that the drug Marinol, a synthetic
form of pure THC, is not as effective as whole marijuana.

It is mean-spirited to deny patients treatment to relieve their suffering
based on groundless fears. Unchecked hysteria was responsible for outlawing
medical marijuana in 1937; common-sense voters have reversed that mistake.
The Washington initiative clearly spells out that marijuana would be used
for the most serious diseases, not for a nosebleed or a fallen arch, as
inaccurately stated in Sandra Bennett's Dec. 9 opinion piece, "Medical pot
is not about compassion, but getting stoned."

Gae Stanley
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Checked-by: Richard Lake