ever increasing number of health-related organisations, government-commissioned
reports and experts are endorsing the use of cannabis for medical purposes. In
addition, in almost every recent public poll the general public have shown that
they too are in favour of allowing medical users to treat their diseases in their
chosen, effective way. A tiny fraction of these are shown below.
from the UK
Royal Society and the Academy of Medical Sciences have prepared a document in
July '98, entitled The Use of Cannabis and its Derivatives for Medical and Recreational
Purposes which forms their joint submission to the House of Lords Science and
Technology Select Committee enquiry. The document summarises the evidence for
medical cannabis and concludes that the current medical data is insufficient to
support the medical prescribing of cannabis as yet, because of the psychoactive
and physiological side-effects and the evidence that tolerance and mild dependence
can occur. They do not support smoking cannabis for medical purposes because smoke
from herbal cannabis contains toxic substances similar to those from cigarette
smoke. However they call for controlled clinical trials and laboratory research
be conducted with cannabinoids, including isolated single components of cannabis
(e.g. THC), extracts of herbal cannabis, as well as selective CB1 and CB2 compounds.
November '97 the BMA released an 80 page report entitled, Therapeutic Uses of
Cannabis (Harwood Academic Publishers, £11.99, ISBN 90 5702 3180), which calls
on the government to make cannabis derivatives more widely available on prescription,
and to allow research into the medical effects of herbal cannabis. It contains
a review of all the available research literature and is an essential purchase
for campaigners, patients and doctors. To order a copy phone 0171 383 6244/6638
or you can order it through major medical bookstores.
The BMA also have a "panel" of more than 150 doctors, who are regularly consulted
on various issues, with the results published in their journal. In February '94,
74% of them believed that cannabis should be available on prescription.
House of Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology released their Ninth
Report, considering medical usages of cannabis. After reviewing the evidence the
called for clinical trials of cannabis for the treatment of MS and chronic pain
to take place 'as a matter of urgency'. The also requested research into delivery
methods of cannabis and cannabinoids other than via smoking. They also wished
to see cannabis moved from Schedule 1 of the Misuse of Drugs regulations to Schedule
2, thus allowing doctors to prescribe it. Minutes
of evidence taken before the Select Committeeon Science and Technology, 7th February
mirrored the findings of a survey carried out by Channel 4 in March '95, when
70% of doctors thought cannabis should be available on prescription. Presidents
of the Royal Medical Colleges
heads of the medical royal colleges were surveyed by the Observer in May '94.
All nine respondents thought there should be more research into medical cannabis,
6 of them thought that cannabis should be available on prescription, and 3 thought
that cannabis should be decriminalised for recreational purposes too. The president
of the Royal College of Anaesthestists went further. Professor Spence thinks that
cannabis should be totally legal, so that research can be carried out.
In early November '95, an incredible 98% of callers to a phone in poll
during The Time, The Place TV program supported medical cannabis.
March '95 a survey carried out by the Independent found 70% of the population
in favour of medical cannabis
of American Scientists
Federation of American Scientists (FAS) wants the US government to allow and carry
out research on the medical cannabis issue, and it wants them to do it quickly.
press release about FAS' petition of November 94 is availiable here.
Nurses Society on Addictions
The US National Nurses Society on Addictions
(NNSA) wants the government to make cannabis availiable on prescription, supports
all research and urges the American Nurses Association and other health care professional
organisations to support patient access to the medicine. Their position
paper was approved in May '95.
California Medical Association have endorsed the prescriptive use of cannabis
for the treatment of "life-threatening and sense-threatening diseases including
AIDS, cancer and glaucoma".
US states have passed legislation recognising the therapeutic potential of
cannabis. Unfortunately the US federal government laws prevent these laws from
having any effect.
US Virginia Nurses Association (VNA) was the first nurses association to support
medical cannabis. At their October '94 meeting they resolved to support "all reasonable
efforts" to make cannabis availiable for legitimate medical uses, to educate Virginia's
nurses about the therapeutic uses of marijuana and the government prohibition
of its use, to encourage other professional bodies to support medical cannabis
and to submit similar resolutions to the American Nurses Association. Online you
can find the VNA's position
paper, a copy
of the resolution and the ACT
press release about it.
Finnish Medical Association
Swedish-language newspaper published in Finland, Hufvudstadsbladet, reported on
24 October, 1998: "The doctors are not encouraging cannabis use, but are presenting
a more nuanced picture. It was also said yesterday that cannabis has possible
therapeutic effects in the treatment of cancer and HIV - it can possibly reduce
pain and feelings of nausea."
US Institutes of Medicine
IOM produced a length report in 1999 entitled Marijuana and medicine - Assessing
the science base. They reviewed lots of scientific evidence as to cannabis' medical
possibilities, finding a great deal of potential cannabis-based treatments for
various diseases. They recommended further clinical trials should take place for
various symptoms, with a view to finding a rapid, safe delivery system. In the
mean time, despite being somewhat undesirable in their opinion, they recommended
short-term used of smoked marijuana, under the following conditions:
of all approved medications to provide relief has been documented;
the symptoms can reasonably be expected to be relieved by rapid-onset cannabinoid
such treatment is administered under medical supervision in a manner that allows
for assessment of treatment effectiveness;
and involves an oversight strategy comparable to an institutional review board
process that could provide guidance within 24 hours of a submission by a physician
to provide marijuana to a patient for a specified use.