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Medical marijuana refers to the use of Cannabis (marijuana), including types of cannabis, THC and other cannabinoids, as a physician-recommended form of medicine or herbal therapy. Marijuana has a long history of medicinal use, with evidence dating back to 2,000 B.C.

While the extent of the medicinal value of cannabis has been contested, it does have several well-documented benefits. These include: the amelioration of nausea and vomiting, stimulation of hunger in chemotherapy and AIDS patients, lowered intraocular eye pressure (shown to be effective for treating glaucoma), as well as general analgesic effects (pain reliever). Less confirmed individual studies also have been conducted indicating cannabis is beneficial in a variety of conditions including Multiple sclerosis and depression. Synthetic cannabinoids are also available as prescription drugs in many countries. Examples include Marinol, available in Germany and the United States, and Cesamet, available in Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, and also in the United States.

Recently the AMA has reversed its position on MMJ and endorsed it's use for the treatment of several conditions.

AMA Ends 72-Year Policy, Says Marijuana has Medical BenefitsOpinion by ASA
(November 10, 2009) in Society / Drug Law HOUSTON --- The American Medical Association (AMA) voted today to reverse its long-held position that marijuana be retained as a Schedule I substance with no medical value. The AMA adopted a report drafted by the AMA Council on Science and Public Health (CSAPH) entitled, "Use of Cannabis for Medicinal Purposes," which affirmed the therapeutic benefitsof marijuana and called for further research. The CSAPH report concluded that, "short term controlled trials indicate that smoked cannabis reduces neuropathic pain, improves appetite and caloric intake especially in patients with reduced muscle mass, and may relieve spasticity and pain in patients with multiple sclerosis." Furthermore, the report urges that "the Schedule I status of marijuana be reviewed with the goal of facilitating clinical research and development of cannabinoid-based medicines, and alternate delivery methods."

The change of position by the largest physician-based group in the country was precipitated in part by a resolution adopted in June of 2008 by the Medical Student Section (MSS) of the AMA in support of the reclassification of marijuana's status as a Schedule I substance. In the past year, the AMA has considered three resolutions dealing with medical marijuana, which also helped to influence the report and its recommendations. The AMA vote on the report took place in Houston, Texas during the organization's annual Interim Meeting of the House of Delegates. The last AMA position, adopted 8 years ago, called for maintaining marijuana as a Schedule I substance, with no medical value.

"It's been 72 years since the AMA has officially recognized that marijuana has both already-demonstrated and future-promising medical utility," said Sunil Aggarwal, Ph.D., the medical student who spearheaded both the passage of the June 2008 resolution by the MSS and one of the CSAPH report's designated expert reviewers. "The AMA has written an extensive, well-documented, evidence-based report that they are seeking to publish in a peer-reviewed journal that will help to educate the medical community about the scientific basis of botanical cannabis-based medicines." Aggarwal is also on the Medical & Scientific Advisory Board of Americansfor Safe Access (ASA), the largest medical marijuana advocacy organization in the U.S.

The AMA's about face on medical marijuana follows an announcement by the Obama Administration in October discouraging U.S. Attorneys from taking enforcement actions in medical marijuana states. In February 2008, a resolution was adopted by the American College of Physicians (ACP), the country's second largest physician group and the largest organization of doctors of internal medicine. The ACP resolution called for an "evidence-based review of marijuana's status as a Schedule I controlled substance to determine whether it should be reclassified to a different schedule. "The two largest physician groups in the U.S. have established medical marijuana as a health care issue that must be addressed," said ASA Government Affairs Director Caren Woodson. "Both organizations have underscored the need for change by placing patients above politics."

Web links to the documents associated with this change in position are listed at bottom......


There different methods for administration of dosage, including vaporizing or smoking dried buds, drinking or eating extracts, and taking capsules.The comparable efficacy of these methods was the subject of an investigative study conducted by the National Institutes of Health.

Cannabis for recreational use is illegal in most parts of the world (but changing), its use as a medicine is legal in a number of territories worldwide, including Canada, Austria, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Israel, Italy, Finland, and Portugal. In the United States, federal law outlaws all cannabis use, while permission for medical cannabis varies among states. Distribution is usually done within a framework defined by local laws. Medical cannabis remains a controversial issue worldwide.

Clinical Applications

In a review of medical literature in 2002, medical cannabis was shown to have established effects in the treatment of nausea, vomiting, premenstrual syndrome, unintentional weight loss, and lack of appetite. Other "relatively well-confirmed" effects were in the treatment of "spasticity, painful conditions, especially neurogenic pain, movement disorders, asthma, [and] glaucoma".

Key findings show that marijuana-based drugs could prove useful in treating inflammatory bowel disease (consisting of Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis), migraines, fibromyalgia, and related conditions.

Medical cannabis has also been found to relieve certain symptoms of multiple sclerosis and spinal cord injuries by exhibiting antispasmodic and muscle-relaxant properties as well as stimulating appetite. Clinical trials provide evidence that THC reduces motor and vocal tics of Tourette syndrome and related behavioral problems such as obsessive–compulsive disorders.

Recent Studies

Alzheimer's disease
Research done by the Scripps Research Institute in California shows that the active ingredient in marijuana, THC, prevents the formation of deposits in the brain associated with Alzheimer's disease. THC was found to prevent an enzyme called acetylcholinesterase from accelerating the formation of "Alzheimer plaques" in the brain more effectively than commercially marketed drugs. THC is also more effective at blocking clumps of protein that can inhibit memory and cognition in Alzheimer’s patients, as reported in Molecular Pharmaceutics.

[edit] Lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
THC has been found to reduce tumor growth in common lung cancer by 50 percent and to significantly reduce the ability of the cancer to spread, say researchers at Harvard University, who tested the chemical in both lab and mouse studies. The researchers suggest that THC might be used in a targeted fashion to treat lung cancer.

In 2006, Donald Tashkin, of the University of California in Los Angeles, presented the results of his study, Marijuana Use and Lung Cancer: Results of a Case-Control Study. Tashkin found that smoking marijuana does not appear to increase the risk of lung cancer or head-and-neck malignancies, even among heavy users. The more tobacco a person smoked, the greater their risk of developing lung cancer and other cancers of the head and neck. But people who smoked more marijuana were not at increased risk compared with people who smoked less and people who didn’t smoke at all. Marijuana use was associated with cancer risk ratios below 1.0, indicating that a history of marijuana smoking had no effect on the risk for respiratory cancers. In contrast, tobacco smoking had a 21-fold risk for cancer. Tashkin concluded, "It's possible that tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in marijuana smoke may encourage apoptosis, or programmed cell death, causing cells to die off before they have a chance to undergo malignant transformation".

Wan Tan presented a study at the American Thoracic Society 2007 International Conference showing that smoking marijuana and tobacco together more than tripled the risk of developing Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) over just smoking tobacco alone.

Similar findings were released in April 2009 by the Vancouver Burden of Obstructive Lung Disease Research Group. The study presents that smoking both tobacco and marijuana synergistically increased the risk of respiratory symptoms and COPD. Smoking only marijuana, however, was not associated with an increased risk of respiratory symptoms of COPD. In a related commentary, Tashkin writes, "…we can be close to concluding that marijuana smoking by itself does not lead to COPD".

[edit] Breast cancer
According to a 2007 study at the California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute, cannabidiol (CBD) may stop breast cancer from spreading throughout the body.[79] The scientists believe[weasel words] their discovery may provide a non-toxic alternative to chemotherapy while achieving the same results minus the painful and unpleasant side effects. The research team says that CBD works by blocking the activity of a gene called Id-1, which is believed to be responsible for a process called metastasis, which is the aggressive spread of cancer cells away from the original tumor site.

HIV/AIDS
Investigators at Columbia University published clinical trial data in 2007 showing that HIV/AIDS patients who inhaled cannabis four times daily experienced substantial increases in food intake with little evidence of discomfort and no impairment of cognitive performance. They concluded that smoked marijuana has a clear medical benefit in HIV-positive patients. In another study in 2008, researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine found that marijuana significantly reduces HIV-related neuropathic pain when added to a patient's already-prescribed pain management regimen and may be an "effective option for pain relief" in those whose pain is not controlled with current medications. Mood disturbance, physical disability, and quality of life all improved significantly during study treatment. Despite management with opioids and other pain modifying therapies, neuropathic pain continues to reduce the quality of life and daily functioning in HIV-infected individuals. Cannabinoid receptors in the central and peripheral nervous systems have been shown to modulate pain perception. No serious adverse effects were reported, according to the study published by the American Academy of Neurology.

Brain cancer
A study by Complutense University of Madrid found the chemicals in marijuana promotes the death of brain cancer cells by essentially helping them feed upon themselves in a process called autophagy. The research team discovered that cannabinoids such as THC had anticancer effects in mice with human brain cancer cells and in people with brain tumors. When mice with the human brain cancer cells received the THC, the tumor shrank. Using electron microscopes to analyze brain tissue taken both before and after a 26- to 30-day THC treatment regimen, the researchers found that THC eliminated cancer cells while leaving healthy cells intact.The patients did not have any toxic effects from the treatment; previous studies of THC for the treatment of cancer have also found the therapy to be well tolerated. However, the mechanisms which promote THC's tumor cell–killing action are unknown.

Opioid dependence

Injections of THC eliminate dependence on opiates in stressed rats, according to a research team at the Laboratory for Physiopathology of Diseases of the Central Nervous System (France) in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology. Deprived of their mothers at birth, rats become hypersensitive to the rewarding effect of morphine and heroin (substances belonging to the opiate family), and rapidly become dependent. When these rats were administered THC, they no longer developed typical morphine-dependent behavior. In the striatum, a region of the brain involved in drug dependence, the production of endogenous enkephalins was restored under THC, whereas it diminished in rats stressed from birth which had not received THC. Researchers believe the findings could lead to therapeutic alternatives to existing substitution treatments.

For this complete text/listing consult: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medical_marijuana

OTHER RESOURCES

http://www.cannabistherapyinstitute.com/research/medical.marijuana.links.granny.crow.html

http://marijuana.researchtoday.net/

http://www.maps.org/mmj/

http://norml.org/index.cfm?Group_ID=7002

http://www.cmcr.ucsd.edu/

http://www.letfreedomgrow.com/index_se_cmu.htm

http://americansforsafeaccess.org/downloads/AMA_Report_Executive_Summary.pdf

http://americansforsafeaccess.org/downloads/AMA_Report_Recommendations.pdf

http://www.acponline.org/advocacy/where_we_stand/other_issues/medmarijuana.pdf
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