EDITOR: | February 19th, 2018

Cannabis prohibition hobbles science, causes needless suffering

| February 19, 2018 | No Comments

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has an uphill battle to maintain cannabis as a Schedule 1 drug. Last week in a New York court, the DOJ was rebuffed by the presiding judge on the classification of cannabis as a Schedule 1 drug.

Judge Alvin Hellerstein of the federal court to the Plaintiffs, “Your clients are living proof of the medical applications of marijuana,” Hellerstein told the Plaintiffs’ lawyer during the hearing. “I have to take the plausible allegations in your complaint as true. How could anyone say that your clients’ lives have not been saved by marijuana? How can anyone say that your clients’ pain and suffering has not been alleviated by marijuana? You can’t, right?”

A drug fits the Schedule 1 determination if it has a high abuse potential, no medical use, and severe safety concerns; for example, narcotics such as Heroin, LSD, and cocaine.

Cannabis is classified as a Schedule 1 drug despite scientific evidence supporting its medicinal properties.

A recent report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) concludes that there is evidence to support the therapeutic effect of Cannabis and cannabinoids in a number of conditions. The findings from NASEM are summarized in a peer-reviewed article to be published (in press) in the European Journal of Internal Medicine titled: ”The therapeutic effects of Cannabis and cannabinoids: An update from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine report.”

It should not be a surprise to anyone that NASEM concluded on the usefulness of cannabinoids.

There is evidence to support the therapeutic effect of Cannabis and cannabinoids in a number of conditions. It’s fair to say that the prohibition of cannabis as a medicine has caused countless suffering for no other reason than to satisfy the needs of the few for a nanny state.

NASEM conducted a rapid turn-around comprehensive review of recent medical literature on The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids. The 16-member committee adopted the key features of a systematic review process, conducting an extensive search of relevant databases and considered 10,000 recent abstracts to determine their relevance. I am reporting some of their findings to illustrate how science is deeply lagging despite anecdotal evidence from the million people that took Cannabis clandestinely.

The gap between anecdotal evidence and the scientific database is depressing in view of the current legal conundrum caused by Jeff Sessions. There should be no doubt that prohibition has slowed down scientific research and development because of stigma and availability. There should be no doubt that prohibition has caused needless suffering by depriving people of the medical benefits of cannabis.

As a first example, an analysis that included seven trials of nabiximols and one of smoked Cannabis found that the plant-derived cannabinoids were 40% more likely to reduce pain than the control agent. Nabiximols is a specific extract of Cannabis that was approved as a botanical drug in the United Kingdom in 2010 as a mouth spray to alleviate neuropathic pain, spasticity, overactive bladder, and other symptoms of multiple sclerosis.

This trial demonstrated that a statistically significant improvement in objective spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis was seen with nabiximols compared to placebo. Despite these findings, the conclusion was that the evidence for impact of cannabinoids on clinician-measured spasticity was limited.

The study also concludes that there is moderate evidence that cannabinoids, predominantly nabiximols, are effective in improving the short-term sleep outcomes in individuals with sleep disturbances associated with obstructive sleep apnea, fibromyalgia, chronic pain and multiple sclerosis.

There are frequent anecdotal reports of remarkable success and in some states where it is an eligible indication for patients to receive Cannabis it ranks near or at the top of the list of conditions for which treatment is sought. A long- awaited controlled clinical trial of Cannabis is currently underway. In the meantime, the published literature contains a single fair-quality crossover trial of Nabilone in ten Canadian male military personnel with trauma-related nightmares despite standard treatment for PTSD

NASEM also reported that cannabinoids were highly effective, being more efficacious than the placebo and similar to conventional antiemetics in treating chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. But despite an abundance of anecdotal reports and accumulated clinical experience of the benefits of Cannabis in reducing chemotherapy-related nausea and vomiting, there are no good quality studies reported in the medical literature.

Dr. Luc Duchesne


Dr. Luc C. Duchesne is a Speaker and Author with a PhD in Biochemistry. With three decades of scientific and business experience, he has published ... <Read more about Dr. Luc Duchesne>

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