Results of the UC Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research (CMCR)’s most recent publication found conclusive evidence that marijuana successfully alleviates pain.
In a four-trial study, CMCR’s research sought to determine if marijuana had therapeutic value. Smoked cannabis was compared to placebo cigarettes with THC removed.
Gov. Gray Davis’ 1999 legislation, Senate Bill 847, commissioned the University of California to establish a research program dedicated to expanding scientific knowledge on the medicinal usages of marijuana.
Three trials involved patients with pain caused by HIV or HIV treatment, neuropathic – or damaged nerve – pain, diabetes related pain and pain from physical injuries. The control group included healthy volunteers to experience induced nerve pain.
According to the study, over 50 percent of participants had a 30 percent reduction in pain intensity. Patients continued standard treatment for their illness while participating in the study.
“The reduction amount [observed] is the amount at which it really makes a difference in someone’s life,” said J. Hampton Atkinson, a co-director of the study from UC San Diego. “It is about the equivalent to what someone would get with standard treatment like morphine or anti-depressants.”
The results of the CMCR study offer alternative treatment for conditions like neuropathic pain and spasticity caused by multiple sclerosis to treat ailments.
“The reason I use medicinal marijuana is because I have a lot of social anxiety,” said a UC Davis graduate who preferred to remain anonymous and who has used medicinal marijuana for two years. “The sativa helps get rid of a lot of my anxiety and I become a lot more sociable, but there’s a lot of stigma behind it.”
A survey of Californian medicinal marijuana users by the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws found that the three most reported uses of medicinal marijuana are chronic pains, AIDS related illnesses and mood disorders.
The effect of cannabis added additional benefits to the relief participants experienced from standard treatment, Atkinson said.
The study concluded that lower doses of cannabis intake were just as effective as higher doses, showing that patients do not have to become intoxicated to experience pain reduction.
“Bobby,” another UC Davis student who preferred to remain anonymous, got a recommendation to use medicinal marijuana two months ago for what he refers to as an eating disorder.
“It cost $125, and I told them I had an eating disorder,” Bobby said. “They already had the paperwork filled out and ready to go.”
According to the National Institute for Drug Abuse (NIDA), cannabis smokers increase their lungs’ exposure to carcinogenic smoke by inhaling more deeply and holding their breath longer than tobacco smokers do. By twelfth grade, 42.6 percent of teenagers have used marijuana at least once, NIDA research showed.
California became the first state to legalize marijuana for medicinal use in 1996 with the voter initiative, the Compassionate Use Act.
Of twelve states with legalized medicinal marijuana, California has the largest user population by 82 percent.
“I personally believe in medicinal because we’re in a pill society; it bothers me that it’s okay to take chemicals and pills, but it’s not okay to put something organic that grows from the ground in your body,” the UC Davis graduate said.
GABRIELLE GROW can be reached at email@example.com.