HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Ottawa Funding Pot Study McGill Researcher To Test
Pubdate: Thu, 26 Jul 2001
Source: Montreal Gazette (CN QU)
Copyright: 2001 The Gazette, a division of Southam Inc.
Author: Charlie Fidelman, The Gazette


A McGill University researcher will be seeking scientific evidence that pot 
really works to relieve chronic pain. "Finally, a chance to tackle cannabis 
as a medicine, not just something to make you giggle," said Dr. Mark Ware 
of the McGill pain clinic at the Montreal General Hospital.

Ware will be conducting the first Canadian clinical study on marijuana and 
pain. The year-long pilot study, financed by Health Canada, is expected to 
start in January. Ware will investigate well-known but anecdotal claims 
about marijuana smoking and its effects on severe pain.

"It's a real vindication of what's been three years' work for me," Ware 
said after the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, a branch of Health 
Canada, gave its approval to the study.

Sparked by stories from his own patients, Ware applied unsuccessfully for 
similar research grants twice before.

"They say that this stuff works. As a doctor, I have to listen to that," 
said Ware, who researched sickle-cell disease in Jamaica, where ganja is 
used in a common folk remedy.

"It makes perfect sense to look at possible medical benefits of cannabis," 
he said. "If you're retching your guts out after chemotherapy and you take 
cannabis and stop retching and feel better - that's strong anecdotal 
evidence, but it's not a clinical study."

Ware's pilot project is the first step toward making cannabis a legitimate 
medicine, to be prescribed and sold like any other.

Also, it's the first outpatient study involving weed, which means it will 
look at the effects of pot smoking in a natural environment like the 
patient's home, rather than a clinical setting like a hospital laboratory.

But don't go knocking on Ware's door.

"Please don't get on a flight and come to Montreal expecting to be involved 
in this study," Ware said.

Most trial subjects will be recruited from patients at the McGill pain 
clinic suffering from moderate to severe chronic pain caused by nerve damage.

Candidates must first get a referral to the pain clinic from their doctor.

The 32 recruits will be given enough marijuana to smoke three times a day 
for one month.

"We'll ask them to take it as directed," Ware said. That means no sharing 
with friends. And no extra "substances" allowed.

The marijuana is expected to be imported from a U.S. grower who can provide 
standardized content of the active ingredients.

"We still have paperwork, licenses and regulatory approvals to secure for 
cannabis as a new drug in humans - ironic as that may sound," Ware said.

The new study pleases compassion clubs that provide pot on humanitarian 
grounds. Club members have long pleaded for government funds to pay for 
medical marijuana.

About 250 Canadians have exemptions to smoke pot for medical purposes.

"I have patients who tell me the same thing they're telling the compassion 
clubs," Ware said. " 'Where can I get some cannabis? Because it makes me 
feel a lot better than anything else.'

"We've got many more trials that need to be done before that answer can be 
given definitively.

"But this is a start."

- - Other information on medicinal use of marijuana can be found at
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