MS PATIENT CREDITS POT
Wed, 01 Nov 2006
Re: Multiple sclerosis forum hears of pot's benefits, Oct. 29.
Kudos to Winnipeg naturopathic Dr. Sean Ceaser and Alexandra Paul of the Winnipeg Free Press for their very informative and closely accurate list of most of the natural therapies that help people like myself, with multiple sclerosis, with some of the horrible symptoms we face daily.
I have been suffering from MS for almost 30 years and have been taking Omega 6 and 3 essential fatty acids for over 15 of those years in a 3:1 ratio -- three times as much of Omega 6 as Omega 3. This regime along with vitamins and minerals such as D, C, calcium magnesium, a multi-vitamin, anti-oxidants and last but not least cannabis have all but stopped the progression of my disease. All of the above mentioned have alleviated my excruciating pain, leg spasms, bladder problems, violent shaking, kept me out of my wheelchair and gotten me back on my feet. Am I living proof that these therapies work? You bet I am.
Please stress to patients who choose cannabis therapy for any chronic disease, that they frequent the Compassion Clubs in their area to support them in helping themselves and others to find a safe, affordable, and clean source of marijuana until the government of Canada has a little better choice to offer the sick and dying people of our country.
Federal Medical Marijuana Exemptee
Copyright © 2006 Winnipeg Free Press (CN MB)
Cuts in the public finances.
Tuesday September 26, 2006 (translated from French)
The people supporting therapeutic marijuana are very unsatisfied and unhappy about the conservative government's decision to abolish the research program on the usage of this drug for medical purposes.
Ottawa explains that their upcoming political announcement against drug use with the young generation is not in line with financing researches on cannabis. Alison Myrden, who consumes marijuana for therapeutic purposes, accuses prime minister Stephen Harper to act this way in order to please George Bush's american government. For the past five years, Ottawa spend 5 million dollars on scientific researches on cannabis.
Neev Tapiero, from the "Toronto Compassion Club" explains that the different varieties of cannabis have different effects on the symptoms associated with Aids, Multiple Sclerosis or Epilepsy. According to him, Canada will lose it's chance in becomming a role model in this domain.
Researchers from the Montreal McGill University, have already done
tests on animals and are in the process of going to the next step which
are clinical try outs on humans. There are worried now that they
will not have the necessary financing to go on with their study and
don't know how to get such financing.
Straight dope from pot prof
NOW | SEPTEMBER 28 - OCTOBER 4, 2006 | VOL. 26 NO. 4
It was an ugly process, but in the end U of T my own ventilated toking room U of T philosophy professor Doug Hutchinson, who won the right this week to smoke pot during work hours for an undisclosed medical condition, goes public about his travails in an open letter released September 22 to U of T authorities, fellow philosophy professors and graduate students.
Greetings, philosophers. I thought I should let you know that as of this week our university has a professor who smokes marijuana openly on campus, legally, and with workplace accommodation for his need to use this remedy. I am that professor.
I feel it falls to me to let you know this state of affairs in the proper terms so that the inevitable rumours and possible slanders that arise can be ignored or challenged by you, my peers and fellow philosophers. I have used marijuana for a serious and chronic health condition for over 10 years, in varying amounts for the varying condition. Currently, the use is heavy and the condition is stable or improving. As for what this condition is, I would ask you please not to speculate or spread rumours or half-truths. Canada has laws that are meant to protect the privacy of personal health information. If you know me well, you will feel free to ask.
How did I manage this transition from clandestine smoker to officially accommodated one? It was an ugly process that started when college and university authorities, acting on policies to repress the use of marijuana among students, decided that they needed to enforce those laws and policies against me as well. Over the course of months of sometimes angry discussions, the other side learned better what the facts of my case and the laws on marijuana actually are.
The outcome is that I have been provided with a ventilated basement smoking room in Trinity College, and the provost of the college and the provost of the university have both written me letters in which they "acknowledge" and "respect" my choice of therapy. I take this opportunity to thank the college and the university for this good solution and for these necessary affirmations of the legitimacy of my conduct. Colleagues and other U of T employees who may need adapted working conditions due to a health condition should know that since 2003 our university has had an Office of Health and Well-being Programs and Services, whose function is to support the work of afflicted employees.
The staff in this office recommend the appropriate accommodation while holding health information confidential from all other university parties. I found this process worked fairly well, and I feel that others should know about it and trust in its integrity. Colleagues and others who use marijuana wholly or partly for medical reasons should be using medical-grade marijuana, with a good selection of strains, of which there are currently two sources of supply in Toronto.
I know these compassion clubs well and will be glad to offer informed advice. Colleagues and others who wonder whether their use of marijuana is medical, or whether they should try some preparation of marijuana for their health condition, should feel free to apply to me for guidance and further information. Professors who become known as heavy users of marijuana risk a great loss of credibility, and I wish I had been able to remain discreet; but I was "outed" by college authorities from where I was hiding in my "dope closet." Under these circumstances, I decided to come out fully into the open, on my own terms. This is the reason I am writing this letter to you; and this is the reason I explained the situation to my undergraduate class on Tuesday, before they could be shocked (or not) at the sight of me puffing during the break (outside the building, of course).
It would be realistic of me to expect a higher than usual degree of scrutiny of my performance at this time; but rather than resent this scrutiny, the better plan is to invite it. There are 10 spare seats in my third-year class on Seneca, which meets from 10 am to 1 pm on Tuesdays, and I invite visits to my class from graduate students, colleagues and higher university officials to see for themselves whether the pot-head professor is teaching well. Please get in touch with me if you intend to visit; and if you wish I will send you the Seneca readings for the day.
It is not a satisfactory defence of my Charter rights to have my grudging authorization from Health Canada while students and others are hounded as criminals for doing what looks like the very same thing; this casts dark shadows of opprobrium on the blameless sick. My experience in coming out into the open has rekindled my activism on the marijuana front, and I am now building, with other Canadian activists, fresh legal challenges to our Charter-defective and previously invalidated prohibition, which seems to have been miraculously resurrected in October 2003 .
I invite colleagues and others to join me in this liberal struggle.
Marijuana mood swing
Tokers say weed works wonders, but science divided on pot for the blues
NOW | SEPTEMBER 21 - 27, 2006 | VOL. 26 NO. 3
Things not going so well? Bummed? Living life in an endless D minor?
There's therapy, of course, and a whole pharmacopoeia of mood changers ready to pump your serotonin levels. Or there's marijuana. Maybe.
Two months ago, the International Cannabinoid Research Society (ICRS) held its annual huddle in Budapest, Hungary, where participants reviewed, among other items, the latest studies on pot's effect on mood. A quick perusal of the conference agenda, however, gives an idea of the yawning gap that now exists between what scientists are able to prove and what tokers are experiencing. For some years, many smokers have claimed reefer as a tonic for funk, posing the possibility that even more are self-treating for depression without even knowing it. And now some therapists are prescribing pot as as an alternative to pharma products, with their scary side effects. But recent studies are contradictory. Some conclude that the green worsens the blues, while others are more hopeful. Last year, for example, a team headed by Dr. Xia Zhang at the U. of Saskatchewan discovered that a synthetic version of the cannabinoid compound found in pot reduced depression in lab rats. With the profit motive in full force, increasing pharma bucks are now being spent on the pot-mood equation, and we may at last have an answer. Does pot trump Prozac? It depends.
One enthusiastic observer is Umar Syed, vice-president of scientific and strategic affairs at Cannasat, a firm hoping to bring cannabis-based pharmaceuticals to market and an attendee at July's ICRS meet. "There's decent scientific evidence that marijuana works for depression," he says. He points out that back in the 80s, scientists located two cannabinoid receptors in the brain: CB1 and CB2. CB1, in particular, works with THC to alleviate depression, "though the exact mechanism is unknown." It's no wonder there are so many reports of successful self-medication, he says, because although there are up to 60 active ingredients in cannabis, most North American plants have been bred for the high and contain 4 to 8 per cent THC, a substance known to raise depression-easing serotonin levels in the brain.
But not everyone is convinced it's THC that makes the difference. Researcher Richard Musty, executive director of the ICRS and a University of Vermont professor emeritus, believes it's cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive component of the marijuana plant, and not THC, that shows the most promise. "This is kind of a confusing area right now. It's going to take more time," he cautions. Musty, with others, conducted studies of rats and concluded that CBD has therapeutic potential. He also monitored patients using CBD, and found that two out of five showed improvement. But he doesn't recommend trying to get your CBD fix from a reefer, because "there's just nothing out there," says Musty, referring to the low CBD content in Canadian pot. And the kicker: when he ran a depression study on animals using THC, "it actually made the animals worse," he says.
Dr. Richard Deyo, a professor of psychiatry at Winona State U. in Minnesota, agrees that while there are positive results from components in marijuana, it's not time to roll a J. "Cannabis itself causes depression in some people and seems to alleviate it in others," says Deyo, who presented a paper at the ICRS conference. "There are too many cannabinoids in it, and it's not stable. It can produce one effect today and one effect tomorrow. That's the danger." Deyo, whose research is funded by drug companies, claims many factors can affect marijuana's effects, including a smoker's age, gender and mental state. He emphasizes that the chemistry of marijuana differs greatly according to the climate in which the plant is grown, making consistent research results tricky.
This, in fact, seems to be the major hurdle of pot studies today. With prohibition the law of the land in North America, researchers have trouble experimenting with the many plant varieties. "Until we have a [conducive] legal environment, you're not going to see any good tests," says Cannabis Culture magazine publisher Marc Emery, who points out that more than 500 different kinds of seeds are available. "The modern medical world is all about dosage ranges that are quantified. Cannabis doesn't work that way; you take it until it works," he says. While clinical reports are smoky, things certainly look a lot different on the front lines. Here, an empiricism of a different kind is at work: what patients report works for them.
At the Toronto Compassion Centre, Jim Brydges has been dispensing pot for nine years, and while he has no fancy science to describe how it works, he says he's had repeated success treating depressed clients with the leafy green. His technique is mix-and-match; he uses different plants on different people, combining various strains of pot and keeping at it until the client reports feeling better. "A cannabis-indica-based product we know as M-39, for example, is traditionally known to take away anxiety and relax the person using it," says Brydges.
In California, the only U.S. state that allows doctors to prescribe marijuana for mental illness, there are similar reports. "There's a lot of anecdotal research recorded," says Allen St. Pierre, exec director of the Washington-based National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. "About 35 per cent of people who go to the dispensaries indicate they're taking cannabis in conjunction with, but more often as a substitute for, everything from attention deficit disorder drugs to very powerful anti-depression and anti-psychotic meds." This positive experience mirrors that of more scholarly med pot specialist Dr. Lester Grinspoon , associate professor emeritus of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and author of several landmark books. Grinspoon points out that no double blind studies had been done on lithium way back when he became the first to prescribe it for bipolar disorder. So he can't see why it shouldn't be acceptable for his patients, many of whom have been helped by pot, to have legal access to it. Why, he seems to ask, don't patient reports count? His website documenting hundreds of users' positive experiences opens with a quote by native American poet Simon Ortiz: "There are no truths, only stories."
"Government propaganda notwithstanding, marijuana is much less toxic than anything we as psychiatrists have to offer," says Grinspoon. "Some patients find it more useful than Prozac for low-grade depression." Grinspoon's not the only psychiatrist reporting such findings. California's Tod Mikuriya, who was in charge of marijuana research for the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health Center for Narcotics and Drug Abuse Studies some decades back, says it's shocking that modern medicine has ignored the history of cannabis in the 100 years before the 1940s, when it was taken off the market. "It's usually patients who have had poor results with standard antidepressants" who do best with marijuana, he says. "One of the things I've been learning is the complicated relationship between emotional and physical conditions. Depression is closely connected with pain, and most of the medications prescribed [such as opiates] have a bad effect. Cannabis operates on a totally different system in the body." Scientists, he says, are desperately looking for something patentable, "but they're going to have a hard time. They're calling things 'cannabinoids' instead of admitting that they are molecules from good old cannabis that are unpatentable. The reason I feel so strongly is because I am so aware of the chemical studies done prior to the contemporary ones."
Studies or no, the Canadian Psychiatric Association, seems to have positioned itself carefully outside the fray. "We don't have any official guidelines," says CPA spokesperson Hélène Càté. At Health Canada, too, officials remain noncommittal. Spokesperson Carol Saindon points out that while the Marijuana Medical Access Regulations don't specifically mention psychiatric conditions, physicians may prescribe pot for whatever purpose they think is appropriate, if they attest that they have consulted a specialist. But while inhaling for depression has a trail of backers, things look different when it comes to other mental ills. Toking may not be what the doctor ordered for bipolar illness, for example. Says Cannasat's Syed, "THC is only safe in the depressive states of bipolar. If a patient is in a manic state, they would probably benefit from CBD. But they could be on the precipice of a manic attack, take THC and make it worse. I would be very hesitant to recommend any cannabinoid for bipolar disease." The same caution applies to schizophrenia. "A fair number of studies point to a significant increase in risk of either causation or relapse of schizophrenia in smokers of pot," says Dr. Harold Kalant, professor emeritus of psychiatry at U of T. Syed, however, says growing evidence suggests that CBD is effective for this disorder. "The strongest data out there is that CBD, in strong enough doses, controls schizophrenia. This is the hottest area of research fresh out of Hungary, and no one really knows it yet," he says.
As momentum builds for cannabis-based meds, there's a chance the bid for legalization of just plain weed may get left in the dust. NORML's St. Pierre sees that as the great irony of pharma's new interest in the plant. "Many pot reformers are investors in these companies. They think their investment can free up the politics [and end prohibition], but it's more likely the government will soon say, 'There's a product and it's safe and you have to go through the drug system. '"
Pursuit of drug case all smoke, no fire
August 5, 2005
By JOEL CONNELLY
In their search for proof that Bigfoot exists, researchers ought to take hair samples from the Washington, D.C., offices of Drug Enforcement Administration boss Karen Tandy.
Tandy has left giant footprints on the drug prosecution of Vancouver, B.C., mail-order pot entrepreneur, and B.C. Marijuana Party founder, Marc Emery.
With an ill-advised statement politicizing the case that also misspelled Emery's first name, the DEA boss may help transform a publicity seeker into a Canadian martyr.
Seeking to stop his extradition to the United States -- where he faces charges of trafficking in marijuana seeds -- Emery's legal team could use Tandy's words to telling effect: Their client is being prosecuted for his beliefs.
The U.S. Attorney's Office in Seattle brought charges against Emery last week, based on investigative work by the local DEA office.
The feds allege that Emery has peddled his wares south of the border. An acquaintance, in the growing business here, yesterday joked that he received "prompt, efficient, courteous service" recently while buying seeds at Emery's Vancouver store. He politely declined a request to sample the resulting product.
But extraditing Emery, through Canadian courts and eventually the Justice Ministry, will be sensitive.
Nor is conviction in Seattle a given. The city voted in 2003 to put pot possession at the bottom of law enforcement priorities.
Authorities in this Washington astutely adopted a Just-the-Facts approach, turning the Emery case into a bombast-free zone.
"The focus of this case is on the drug trafficking of Marc Emery. It is not about his political activities, nor his campaigns for office. Nor is it focused on his magazine," said assistant U.S. attorney Todd Greenberg.
Consider the contrasting bluster of Tandy's statement from the DEA home office in the other Washington.
"Today's arrest of Mark (sic) Scott Emery, publisher of Cannabis Culture magazine and the founder of a marijuana legalization group, is a significant blow not only to the marijuana trafficking trade in the U.S. and Canada, but also to the marijuana legalization movement."
Why? Tandy gives us a handy dose of innuendo.
"Hundreds of thousands of dollars of Emery's illicit profits are known to have been channeled to marijuana legalization groups active in the United States and Canada. Drug legalization lobbyists now have one less pot of money to rely on."
As the old Wendy's TV spot used to ask, Where's the beef?
Tandy cites no supporting evidence. Anyone who has witnessed Seattle Hempfest -- the nation's largest marijuana-related festival -- is likely to scoff.
"Marc Emery has never given a penny to Seattle Hempfest or Sensible Seattle (sponsor of a 2003 initiative)," said Dominic Holden, longtime Hempfest organizer.
"If he did, us American advocates might be driving new cars and live in nice homes like the activists in Canada," he added.
The statement by Tandy will send nationalists-of-the-north up in smoke.
"The big fuss here seems to be the notion that we're knuckling under to American law enforcement," said Rafe Mair, a lawyer and Vancouver's best-known radio talk-show host.
Canada is moving toward decriminalizing marijuana possession. It still has on the books a law against sale of pot seeds, but police have not pursued Emery's seed selling by catalog or out of his Vancouver store.
The heavy hand is nothing new. U.S. drug policy chief John Walters visited Vancouver in 2002. He warned Mayor Philip Owen that crossing the border would get tougher if the city adopted a drug policy based upon tolerance and treatment.
"It was the most unsatisfactory meeting of my life," Owen said. "The pressure was intense."
Owen was succeeded by current Vancouver Mayor Larry Campbell. A former coroner and drug squad cop, Campbell wants to legalize -- and tax -- marijuana.
"Drug czars are the most ill-informed people in government ... They are still living in an era of 'Reefer Madness,' " Campbell said in a recent interview, referring to the much-lampooned 1930s movie. He was named this week to the Canadian Senate.
Vancouver has adopted a "Four Pillars" approach to drug use: Treatment, harm reduction, prevention and enforcement.
By contrast, Karen Tandy is a Justice Department hard-liner who, in the words of Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, "doesn't seem amenable to listening."
She is a career federal prosecutor who has gone after mail-order bong sellers and been involved in thwarting California's voter-approved medical marijuana program.
The DEA boss's record is marked by accusations of excessive prosecutorial zealotry, according to a 2003 investigation by The Nation magazine.
She once waited until three days before trial to turn over 60,000 pages of documents to defense attorneys.
In the current case, she is giving Emery a larger stage to strut his stuff.
"It would seem, from her statements, this prosecution is about Mr. Emery's political efforts to legalize marijuana as much as it is about his business," said Murray Mollard, director of the B.C. Civil Liberties Union.
And that is exactly what U.S. prosecutors must avoid if they want Emery, rather than their case, to go south.
P-I columnist Joel Connelly can be reached at 206-448-8160 or email@example.com.
© 1998-2005 Seattle Post-Intelligencer
B.C. pot activist granted bail
Aug. 3, 2005
VANCOUVER—Canadian justice officials can't turn pot activist Marc Emery over to the United States to face possible life in prison after ignoring his sale of marijuana seeds in this country for nearly a decade, his lawyer said yesterday.
"For nine years he's been doing this quite openly," John Conroy told a news conference after Emery was granted bail. "They've known about it; the local authorities haven't done anything about it."
Emery is accused of selling seeds out of his bookstore in downtown Vancouver and over the Internet. He also runs Cannabis Culture magazine and is the leader of the British Columbia Marijuana Party.
Conroy said Emery has long had tacit permission from Canadian authorities to sell seeds, adding that even Health Canada has directed people who are allowed to possess pot for medical conditions to the Internet to buy seeds.
"Here we have a situation where they turn a blind eye locally and now they're in a position of assisting the U.S. to try to have him extradited to the U.S., where the penalties are substantially greater than here," Conroy said.
Bail was set at $50,000 for Emery, who faces a sentence of 10 years to life in prison if convicted in the U.S.
Emery's co-accused, Greg Williams and Michelle Rainey-Fenkarek, were also granted bail.
They face charges of conspiracy to manufacture marijuana, conspiracy to distribute marijuana seeds and a third of conspiracy to engage in money laundering.
The U.S. wants the trio extradited after they were indicted by a federal grand jury in May following an 18-month investigation by American police into the sale of marijuana seeds on the Internet and by mail.
The pot paraphernalia store that Emery runs was raided on Friday by Vancouver police after a warrant was issued at the request of U.S. justice officials.
Supporters, who regularly come together in rallies to support Emery's political and legal causes, packed the gallery seats around his wife, Cheryl, during Emery's court appearance.
Outside the court, one demonstrator waved a massive Canadian flag bearing a marijuana leaf instead of a maple leaf.
Others criticized the extradition request. Emery's lawyer agreed.
"It seems to me if you do anything on the Internet that's illegal in the U.S., or that they don't like, you do run the risk of the U.S. federal government taking a position that you're doing things that somehow impact on their sovereignty," Conroy said.
"In effect, they have some power over you no matter where you are."
But a spokesperson for Justice Minister Irwin Cotler brushed aside the suggestion from Emery's supporters that Ottawa is taking its orders from U.S. justice authorities, pointing out that a process exists for law enforcement officials on both sides of the border to seek the apprehension of suspects.
"A foreign country is allowed to make a request for arrest and extradition of people who are sought in criminal cases ... That's why we have extradition treaties like the one we have with the United States," said Christian Girouard, adding he couldn't discuss the details of Emery's case.
With files from Sean Gordon
Shame on Canada, pot protestors say
Canada should be ashamed for arresting a prominent Canadian marijuana rights activist on charges of violating American drug laws, marijuana advocates said here yesterday after demonstrating against the arrest.
B.C. Marijuana Party leader Marc Emery, who sells marijuana seeds over the Internet, was arrested by RCMP in Nova Scotia Friday on a warrant issued by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
Although selling marijuana seeds is legal in Canada, it's a violation of U.S. law.
"Ottawa should be ashamed ... for selling off Canadians to keep good relations with Uncle Sam," Jessica Aulthouse said yesterday outside the U.S. Consulate General on University Ave., where 30 people gathered to protest the arrest of Emery and two of his colleagues.
"I want the Canadian government to make decisions based on what people here want and not what foreign heads want," said Aulthouse, who travelled to Toronto from Niagara Region.
The surprise arrests were authorized by the B.C. Supreme Court under the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act.
The three now face extradition and, if convicted, punitive sentences ranging from 10 years to life in prison.
Emery, 47, Michelle Rainey-Fenkarek, 34, financial agent for the party and Greg Williams, 50, an employee of Pot-TV, all face U.S. charges of conspiracy to manufacture marijuana, distribute seeds and engage in money laundering.
The arrests came after the trio was indicted by a U.S. federal grand jury in May following an 18-month investigation by American police into the sale of marijuana seeds on the Internet and by mail.
At a similar pro-Emery rally in Vancouver Saturday, some 200, including visiting Americans, protested the arrests.
Canadian officials have a long history of trying to dethrone Emery, who's been dubbed the Canadian Prince of Pot because he's among the world's biggest dealers in marijuana seeds. While he's been convicted of various drug-related charges since 1994, when he opened a store in Vancouver that now sells marijuana paraphernalia, he's only ever been sentenced once. Last year, he was slapped with three months in jail for passing a joint at a pot rally in Saskatoon.
Emery has long insisted on selling seeds because they don't contain enough THC, the mood-altering ingredient in marijuana, to qualify as a banned substance. But since he stopped selling them over the counter and started selling them in cyberspace, Canadian authorities have for the most part left him alone.
Currently, his seed-selling business is booming, Rod Benson, the special agent in charge of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, told reporters in Seattle on Friday. It sells about $3 million worth of seeds each year, mostly to the U.S.
`I see this as part and parcel of a very great push by the U.S ... to invade us with their will'
Connie Fogal, Canadian Action Party
Unlike here, authorities south of the border believe that selling marijuana seeds is the same as selling marijuana.
Rainey-Fenkarek and Williams were arrested in Vancouver. As city police were raiding his pot paraphernalia store, Emery was arrested in Lawrencetown, N.S., where he'd been scheduled to speak at a music festival that raises money for the group Maritimers Unite for Medical Marijuana.
Rainey-Fenkarek was released on $25,000 bail Friday, but both Williams and Emery spent the weekend in custody. Both men are to appear in a Vancouver court today for a bail hearing.
Calls to Justice Minister Irwin Cotler's office yesterday were not returned. However, many have called the arrests a flagrant display of American bullying.
"The ability (for Americans) to come into our country and ask for our help to take (Emery) away so they can punish him for their kinds of laws is immoral, " said Connie Fogal, leader of the Canadian Action Party, which promotes Canadian nationalism.
"It's not just their approach to marijuana. I see this as part and parcel of a very great push by the U.S., not to just exercise its clout, but to invade us with their will. They don't have to use guns, tanks and missiles, because they've got political wimps here who bow down to them," said Fogal, who's also a lawyer in Vancouver.
Her comments were loudly echoed yesterday by protestors outside the U.S. consulate on University Ave.
"Today's a big day, not just for the marijuana movement but for all Canadians," said Alison Myrden, sitting in a wheelchair and holding a sign that read, "Marc Emery Saved my Life," as she took drags from a marijuana joint.
"Marc is a legitimate businessman, he's always been above board," said Myrden.
She added that Emery has often sent her money so she could afford to buy marijuana to ease the pain brought on by by 28 years of living with multiple sclerosis.
Protest organizer Matt Mernagh, a medicinal user of marijuana, called Emery's arrest a "gross insult to Canadian sovereignty."
But "it's an excellent opportunity to get rid of someone who's a pain in their ass — they can't get him in Canada so they'll send him to the U.S.," Mernagh said.
"The government has washed their hands of this."
with files from Canadian Press
Marijuana Medicine Tests Pot's
August 1st, 2005
BURLINGTON, Ontario - Since she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis 13 years ago, Alison Myrden has suffered from pain so intense it feels like "lightning going off in my face."
To reduce her agony, Myrden, 41, has long taken dozens of prescription pills a day, including the powerful Dilaudin. Now, though, she has a new weapon in her arsenal: Sativex, billed as the world's first cannabis-based drug.
"I think it has good potential," says Myrden, squirting Sativex into her mouth from a small sprayer. "It's really fabulous that the government has taken marijuana seriously and is making a medicine of it."
This spring, Canada became the first country to approve Sativex, a prescription drug for MS that contains tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, and other active ingredients of the Cannabis sativa plant. The drug went on sale throughout Canada in mid June, just a week after the medical marijuana movement in the United States was dealt a major setback by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Sativex is so new and expensive that few Canadians are using it so far. But given the timing of its debut, it has highlighted the divergent views on marijuana's therapeutic benefits.
Sativex "is an important step, but why should this whole field be centered in Canada and England instead of the United States? It's because of the repression of science in the United States," says Rick Doblin, whose Sarasota-based Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies funds research of marijuana's medical effects.
But the U.S. government's Office of National Drug Control Policy, which deems marijuana a dangerous drug, says many of those touting its therapeutic use want to legalize its recreational use as well.
"Of course we would look at any medicine proven safe or efficacious," says spokesman Tom Riley. "But the medical marijuana issue has been kind of larded with hype for a number of years by a lot of people with agendas in this area."
Sativex was developed by GW Pharmaceuticals, a small British company that is trying to distance itself from the medical marijuana debate as it seeks U.S. and European approval of a potentially lucrative product.
"There is a clear distinction to be drawn between what you would call medical marijuana and Sativex, which is the name of a medicine," says Mark Rogerson, a GW spokesman. "Medical marijuana is smoking a joint or baking a cake. This is a prescription medicine for MS."
Multiple sclerosis is a chronic disease of the central nervous system (brain, spinal cord and optic nerves) that affects people in unpredictable ways. Some patients suffer from spasticity, causing the muscles to lock up; others, like Myrden, shake or have excruciating pain.
In Britain, GW has focused on Sativex as a treatment for spasticity. So far the British government has refused to approve it without more evidence it works for that purpose.
In Canada, however, Sativex has been approved for use in treating neuropathic pain, another common symptom.
Myrden, a disabled former corrections officer and one of 50,000 Canadians with MS, says Sativex helps relieve pain but is not as cheap or effective as the plant.
Unlike the other drugs she takes, Sativex is not covered by Ontario's health care program. A small bottle, with enough sprays to last Myrden just 31/2 days, costs $125.
For Sativex to gain wider use, "it has to be cost effective," says Myrden, who lives on government disability and help from her mother and boyfriend. "It's about $1,000 a month - where am I going to get money for my next prescription?"
By comparison, it costs Myrden about $400 a month to buy marijuana from compassion clubs, the quasilegal establishments that sell it for medicinal purposes. She is also among a few hundred Canadians licensed by the government to grow marijuana and smoke it wherever tobacco cigarettes are allowed.
Despite its high price, Sativex is less effective than regular marijuana, Myrden has found. She never used marijuana before developing MS, she says, but now smokes it several times a day and eats it in oatmeal cookies.
With the right strain of marijuana, "I can get rid of the pain in minutes for two hours. I would rely on marijuana hands down - it's the only thing that gives me quality of life."
The Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada considers Sativex "just another" treatment for MS-related symptoms.
That it comes in spray form and is obtainable only by prescription "is a little more reassuring because it's less apt to be abused," says Dr. William McIlroy, the society's medical adviser. "The majority of doctors in Canada don't want to be known as the primary source of smoked marijuana."
In the United States, where MS afflicts 400,000, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society says anecdotal evidence suggests marijuana can help reduce MS-related pain. But it remains difficult to measure relief objectively: Participants in one study realized they were getting a cannabinoid-based treatment instead of a placebo when they developed the dry mouth and lightheadedness familiar to marijuana users.
"So far the studies that have purported to show the benefits of marijuana have not been well-blinded, and so people knew what they were receiving," says John Richert, the society's vice president for research. "That makes it impossible to distinguish whether one is seeing a true effect of the treatment or whether it is a placebo effect."
As for Sativex, "there is still no good scientific study that proves its efficacy," Richert says.
GW Pharmaceuticals has yet to formally seek approval for Sativex in the United States, though it has "started the process" of talking to the Food and Drug Administration, says Rogerson, the GW spokesman. "No disrespect to the FDA, but we would expect it be a longer process in the States."
Advocates of medical marijuana claim the U.S. government has made it difficult to do scientific research into the plant's therapeutic effects. Researchers must get federal approval for their studies and must use marijuana from a government farm in Mississippi.
"This is the only drug in America for which the only source for research purposes is the U.S. government, and they have a reputation for producing not very good quality stuff," says Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, which advocates more liberal drug policies.
Availability of the Mississippi marijuana used to be limited to those studying the plant's effects on behavior and reasoning. But the government began giving it to other researchers after a federal advisory panel found enough evidence of marijuana's medical benefits to warrant additional study.
"Except for the harm associated with smoking, the adverse effects of marijuana are within the range of effects tolerated for other medicines," said a report by the Institute of Medicine.
Thousands of people with MS, cancer, AIDS and other diseases routinely use marijuana in California and the 10 other states with medical marijuana laws. (Florida is not among them.) In June, however, the Supreme Court ruled that the federal government still can ban marijuana possession in states that have eliminated penalties for its therapeutic use.
That's unfortunate, says Myrden, who applauds the Canadian government for approving Sativex and allowing sick people to use marijuana in other forms as well.
"I'm really excited this is available," she says of Sativex, "but you have to realize the natural form is just as good if not better."
Susan Taylor Martin can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
B.C. pot activist arrested in extradition bid
CTV.ca News Staff
Police raided a marijuana seed store run by the B.C. Marijuana Party leader in Vancouver Friday, at the request of U.S. authorities in Seattle.
In connection with the 11 a.m. raid, Greg Williams a.k.a. "Marijuana Man" was arrested at the store, Michele Rainey at her Vancouver home and high-profile B.C. Marijuana Party leader Marc Emery was picked up in Nova Scotia while attending "Hempfest 2005."
U.S. officials are accusing the trio of growing marijuana, distributing marijuana seeds and conspiring to engage in money laundering, following an 18-month investigation by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
Emery runs a mail-order website that distributes marijuana seeds to clients in a variety of countries, including the United States.
At a news conference in Seattle, U.S. authorities announced they've asked for Emery to be extradited to the U.S. to face drug charges.
Seattle DEA Special Agent Rod Benson said that Emery displayed an "overwhelming arrogance and abuse of the rule of law."
"The message here is clear," Benson said. "Those engaged in the cultivation, and trafficking of illegal drugs will eventually pay a steep price."
The price of a conviction could carry a sentence ranging from 10 years to life in prison.
Chief of the Criminal Division of the U.S. Attorney's Office Jeff Sullivan said the charges are based on what Emery allegedly does in the U.S. and not what he does in Canada.
Vancouver Constable Howard Chow said Canadian law enforcement was approached by the DEA to aid in the investigation.
"The DEA came to us about a year ago surrounding Marc Emery and asked for our assistance in the criminal investigation that had to do with trafficking a controlled substance," Chow told CTV.ca News. "It's an ongoing investigation. There may be further charges that come out of this.
Emery's site has been operating for more than five years with no action being taken until today.
"It just comes in terms of resources and priority. We get information and we act on it and we deal with it at that time," Chow said.
"You can expect that anybody who engages in criminal activity on a high profile, such as Marc Emery does -- you're not going to expect to do it forever before you have to account for your actions."
Known as "The Prince of Pot", the leader of the B.C. Marijuana Party has been a vocal advocate for the legalization of marijuana.
In 1994, Emery opened a Vancouver-based store called Hemp BC selling marijuana paraphernalia. Police raided his store in 1996 and again in 1998, confiscating his entire stock.
After those raids, Emery opened the mail-order business selling the seeds. He also publishes "Cannabis Culture" magazine and runs "Pot TV" on the Internet.
He ran for mayor of the city of Vancouver in 1996 and again in 2002, coming in fifth place.
In 2004, Emery served a 90-day sentence in a Saskatoon jail for passing a marijuana joint.
Party spokesperson Kirk Tousaw said he had not spoken to Emery since the raid.
"I can express a pretty significant disappointment that police would choose to go this route to go after Marc and others who have been operating there for years with no harm to anyone," Tousaw told CTV.ca News.
"The timing stinks. They do it on Friday so that they can keep you in jail the maximum amount of time before you can be released on bail," said Tousaw.
Emery's operation on West Hastings houses a hemp shop, a book store, the headquarters for PotTV and the operations behind an Internet-based seeds sales company.
According to police, Emery's seed business rakes in about $3 million a year
U.S. Patriot Act warrants questioned
August 1, 2005
SEATTLE (AP) - The USA Patriot Act made it possible for federal investigators to search and bug a 110-metre tunnel under the U.S.-Canadian border, and then watch and listen as hundreds of kilograms of marijuana were carried through it.
Government agents surreptitiously installed video and audio devices after obtaining a "sneak and peek" warrant, which allows searches that leave no trace and are conducted without immediate notification of the subject.
Regular search warrants require that the subject be notified immediately after a search. Usually notice is left at the scene, with details about any removal of items.
With a sneak-peek warrant - also called a delayed-notice warrant - investigators arrange the timeline of the delay with a judge. Most often, suspects are notified within 30 days, said Doug Whalley, an assistant U.S. attorney in Seattle.
As Congress prepares to reauthorize parts of the law, some legislators and civil-rights groups want to scale back some of the powers it grants. The Senate Judiciary Committee, for example, recently introduced a bill that would greatly limit how "sneak-peek" activity is conducted.
"I think that the power that the government has under the Patriot Act ... is clearly contrary to the notion underlying the Fourth Amendment," said former U.S. Representative Bob Barr, a Republican from Georgia who leads an organization called Patriots to Restore Checks and Balances. The secret warrants are "being used in cases that have nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism," Barr said.
Whalley said the Patriot Act codified already-existing law and made it difficult to challenge the use of sneak-peek warrants in court. Before the law went into effect, rulings were made on a case-by-case basis. Appeals courts could decide whether the warrants were improperly issued.
Under Patriot Act warrants, suspects often are not aware for months that their properties have been searched, said Lisa Graves, senior counsel for legislative strategy for the American Civil Liberties Union.
"The Justice Department decided to create a statutory right across the board, to try and create a national right of law enforcement to create secret searches of businesses and homes, secret seizures of evidence," she said.
Whalley said prosecutors "don't eagerly use these methods of surveillance. The process is very labour-intensive. If you watch TV, they get a search warrant within 10 minutes. Something like this, where you want to go in and not announce your presence if we're lucky, the turnaround is two days, and that's fast."
When discovery of the tunnel was announced last month, federal officials cited concerns it could be used to smuggle terrorists or weapons, not just drugs.
Civil-rights advocates are skeptical.
"The tunnel has nothing to do with the war on terrorism. ... There's absolutely no reason why the authorities couldn't have availed themselves of the normal ways possible," said Bob Mahler, a Seattle criminal defence lawyer.
Emery expected to return to Vancouver next week
July 30, 2005
By ELIANNA LEV
VANCOUVER (CP) - All the cliches of a pot protest were there: the hackey-sac games, tie-dye T-shirts and small clouds of smoke floating above the crowd of about 200 people.
What wasn't to be expected at Saturday's rally to protest the arrest of three B.C. Marijuana Party members was the support it received from visiting Americans.
Party leader Marc Emery, Michelle Rainey-Fenkarek, financial agent for the party and Greg Williams, an employee of Pot-TV, all face American charges of conspiracy to manufacture marijuana, distribute seeds and engage in money laundering.
Friday's arrests came at the request of the U.S., which wants the three extradited for trial. A conviction carries a sentence ranging from 10 years to life in prison.
Emery was arrested by RCMP on Friday in central Nova Scotia and was to spend the weekend in a Halifax-area jail before being returned to Vancouver.
Rainey-Fenkarek was released on bail Friday while Williams remained in custody in Vancouver.
Nick Frey, who was visiting from Los Angeles stumbled across the protest while walking through the "pot block," a city street that houses mostly marijuana-themed stores.
"I resent my (Drug Enforcement Administration) for infringing on Canadian policy," he said.
"It's not my problem because I don't smoke pot but people should be alarmed. People should be able to do what they want to do."
Nebraskan Scott Tanner echoed the sentiment.
"Our government has overstepped its bounds (by requesting the arrests of the Canadians)," he said. "Whatever happens on this side of the border, it's none of our business."
He said he would never expect to see such a protest in his hometown.
"In the mid-70s, they had 'Marijuana is Fun Day.' Now whatever happened to that, I don't know."
The uplifting psychedelic music blaring from the party headquarters didn't reflect the mood inside.
Signs at the entrance to the storefront, which doubles as a bookstore and sells marijuana paraphernalia, told the U.S., politely and not so politely, where to go.
A donation box was set up inside asking for help for Emery, Rainey-Fenkarek and Williams.
"All of them have been outspoken advocates for changing our marijuana policies, both domestically and throughout the world," said Kirk Tousaw, the party's campaign manager. "We believe that's why they've been targeted by the U.S. government."
Donation boxes aside, there were few indications inside the store that it had been raided less than a day earlier.
Medicinal marijuana advocate hopeful new drug will offer relief from MS pain
Tim Whitnell - Burlington Post
Alison Myrden is excited yet somewhat apprehensive about becoming one of the first people in the world to try a new prescription drug designed to alleviate the intense pain experienced by some multiple sclerosis patients.
The 41-year-old local resident, who says she has suffered intense facial nerve pain related to MS on a constant basis for about 10 years, has begun using a new medication that is derived from the cannabis plant. Long an advocate and also one of a small group of legal users of prescribed medicinal marijuana in cigarette form -- to help ease her daily discomfort -- Myrden hopes that Sativex is not only a more potent analgesic than traditional pot, but will become more socially acceptable too.
Sativex is a medication delivered via a small spray bottle. It is administered under the tongue or in the cheek. It was approved by Health Canada is April and has been available here by prescription since June. It is currently only available in Canada and only for neuropathic pain associated with MS. GW Pharmaceuticals of Great Britain, the developer of Sativex, says on its Web site that the drug's principal active ingredients are the cannabis-derived components delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).
Myrden said she tried the new drug for the first time on Sunday morning. In the few days before that first use she extended the time between taking her usual daily cocktail of medications -- marijuana in pill and cigarette form plus morphine -- to see what level of effect Sativex would have. She said the initial results are not encouraging but acknowledged it is far too early to know if she will be able to switch to Sativex exclusively at some point.
"I have a bad pain in my face all the time but I had a particularly bad flare-up Sunday morning. I hadn't had anything at all since 5 a.m. I went a little longer (without medication) than I normally would, a couple of hours more," taking Sativex for the first time around 9 a.m., she said. "I used three doses the first time, waited about 30 minutes and there was no relief at all. Then I took five more sprays and nothing. I waited 15 more minutes then lit a marijuana cigarette and got relief within five minutes." Myrden said she understands, and is patient enough, that it could be a long time before she knows if Sativex will help ease her condition. "I've been told it could take three months to slowly come off my medication and the marijuana cigarettes, if I stay on the Sativex.
"I want it to work desperately
because I want relief,
Even if Sativex proves not to be an improvement on her pot cigarettes in terms of pain relief, she's excited about the prospect of it possibly helping others. She also hopes the spray format gains widespread acceptance and erases the social stigma of having to smoking dope. "Also, it might not be as difficult going to the United States, maybe I can travel easier some day (with Sativex)," she said, referring to crossing the border.
Myrden has attended American conferences on medicinal marijuana and taken her marijuana pills, which she says are accepted by U.S. authorities. She is planning to speak at the Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) gathering in California in November. Myrden has been living for years with a severe form of MS. She had neurosurgery on her face about 10 years ago but got no relief. She had even tried heroin and cocaine. When the facial pain became unbearable she turned to smoking marijuana, which she said helped immensely.
MS is a disease of the central nervous system. The MS Society of Canada estimates that 50 per cent of people with MS suffer from chronic neuropathic pain. Approximately 50,000 Canadians, the majority women, have the disease. Lori Ann Horrigan, communications manager with Bayer Canada -- the exclusive marketer in Canada of Sativex for the UK's GW Pharmaceuticals -- said Sativex helps with neuropathic pain. However, she noted it is only currently approved for use by MS sufferers, not those with similar pain associated with arthritis, anorexia, AIDS, depression, epilepsy or Hepatitis C.
Myrden's pharmacist, David Pinkus, of the Roseland Shoppers Drug Mart, said a drug like Sativex has "definitely been a long time coming." "It's going to reduce the side effects and, hopefully, the amount of analgesic medication Alison needs to take," said Pinkus. For Myrden, and likely many others in her situation, the effectiveness of Sativex is only one consideration, the other being its exorbitant cost. A bottle costs $124.95 and contains 51 spray doses. Myrden figures she'll use eight bottles per month. She says it is not covered by the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP), meaning she will need to pay about $1,000 per month out of her own pocket.
The new drug will compound her financial straits, she said, noting she already pays about $200 of her own money for a three-day supply of marijuana, which she smokes. The 180 marijuana pills Myrden says she uses every month cost about $4,800; she also takes morphine tablets at a cost of more than $300 monthly. Myrden said about two-thirds of her medication costs are covered by public health insurance, but that still leaves her with about $2,000 in direct costs every month. She doesn't work anymore. The former corrections liaison officer and medical secretary has trouble walking due to the MS. She lives on her own and often uses an electric scooter in public. She said she receives about $1,200 monthly in Canada pension and Ontario Disability Support payments, far short of covering just her medical expenses. "I couldn't do it without my boyfriend and my mother," whom she said help buy her food and pay her other bills.
Therapeutic potential of cannabinoids in Trigeminal Neuralgia
Dec, 2004 - Liang YC, Huang CC, Hsu KS.
Department of Pharmacology, College of Medicine, National Cheng Kung University, Tainan 701, Taiwan.
Trigeminal neuralgia is a disorder of paroxysmal and severely disabling facial pain and continues to be a real therapeutic challenge to the clinicians. While the exact cause and pathology of this disorder is uncertain, it is thought that trigeminal neuralgia caused by irritation of the trigeminal nerve. This irritation results from damage due to the change in the blood vessels, the presence of a tumor or other lesions that cause the compression of the trigeminal root.
The pain of trigeminal neuralgia is characterized by unilateral pain attacks that start abruptly and last for varying periods of time from minutes to hours. The quality of pain is usually sharp, stabbing, lancinating, and burning. The attacks are initiated by mild stimuli such as light touch of the skin, eating, chewing, washing the face, brushing the teeth, and exposure to wind.
Although antiepileptic drug therapy may be beneficial in the treatment of trigeminal neuralgia, up to one-half of the patients become refractory or intolerant to these medications. At present there are few other effective drugs. In cases of lacking effect after pharmacotherapy, surgical options may be considered. Currently there is growing amount of evidence to suggest that the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis and individual cannabinoids may be effective in alleviating neuropathic pain and hyperalgesia.
Evidence suggests that cannabinoids may prove useful in pain modulation by inhibiting neuronal transmission in pain pathways. Considering the pronounced antinociceptive effects produced by cannabinoids, they may be a promising therapeutic approach for the clinical management of trigeminal neuralgia.
PMID: 15578967 [ PubMed ]
Myrden on Houston, Texas Radio Show
Against Multiple Sclerosis
By Francesco Veronesi
Publication Date: 2004-10-03
had to take 32 pills a day, as well as a heavy dose of morphine.
Imprisoned in bed by the pain, I did not have the strength to get
up, to do the simplest things. Thanks to marijuana, all this is behind
me. Now I get up, I move around. I'm alive again."
Yet Alison is in love with life, even though life reserved her such a cruel destiny. Ever since her illness was diagnosed, Alison decided to resist, to tackle her disease and fight it tooth and nail. In 1992, due to the rapid progress of her illness, Alison was forced to leave her job. The drugs she had to take in order to control the pain were debilitating her. "We beat all paths known to medicine," continued Alison; "alongside traditional drugs I began a cure based on cocaine and heroin, under constant medical monitoring and with a regular permit by Health Canada."
attempts, however, soon proved just as useless. "My health was
declining fast. My illness was accompanied by the Tic Doloreux, a
persistent pain in the face that often manifests itself in MS patients." Then,
in 1995, she found marijuana. "I had smoked some cannabis when
I was a kid, just out of curiousity. I would never have dreamed that
eventually it would help me survive."
In the same period Alison became an activist against the "prohibitionist" law, and she had to confront an apparently insurmountable obstacle, the cultural gap of Western society that sees marijuana as an evil to be avoided at all costs. "Marijuana never killed anybody," remarked Alison. "There is scientific evidence of this. From this standpoint, Canada is even considered too permissive, in comparison to many other countries where not even therapeutical use of cannabis is allowed. I wonder, why should a government force me to suffer? Why do they deny a patient an opportunity to alleviate physical pain, especially for incurable diseases like MS, where the illness cannot be defeated but its effects can be reduced? Trying to answer these questions, I decided to fight for legalization."
recent years, the Canadian situation has changed, probably thanks
also to the commitment of Alison and the numerous groups of activists
all over the country. A bill, first tabled by Jean Chrétien
and then by Paul Martin, asks for the decriminalization of possession
of small quantities of cannabis. And the Marijuana Party, a political
formation that ran in the latest Federal election, is alive and growing.
problems and incongruities of this system, which on the one hand
represses and on the other promotes, came to light in the past few
months, with a controversy between the patients and Health Canada
about the alleged low quality of government-grown cannabis. "I
can only confirm," added Alison, "that there are big problems
with the content of THC, the active principle of cannabis: Health
Canada's marijuana has a very low level of it. Once again, people
resort to the street market."
Unlocking a Cure for Cancer – With Pot
Who could imagine that cannabis might one day offer hope as a cure for cancer? The United States government, that’s who.
For the past 30 years, U.S. officials have willfully ignored clinical research indicating that marijuana can inhibit the growth of certain type of malignant tumors. However, the recent publication of a trio of clinical studies and a pair of scientific reviews have effectively blown the lid off "Cancergate," and revealed that pot’s medical value may be far greater than ever presumed.
THE EMERGING EVIDENCE
year, five scientific journals published prominent articles trumpeting
cannabinoids (compounds in marijuana) as potential anti-cancer agents.
AND SUBSEQUENT MEDIA BLACKOUT
Despite these stunning findings, media coverage of them in North America has been virtually non-existent. As noted by Richard Cowan, editor of the website MarijuanaNews.com, "The New York Times, The Washington Post and Los Angeles Times all ignored this story, even though its newsworthiness is indisputable: a benign substance occurring in nature destroys deadly brain tumors."
Why the media blackout? For starters, all of these studies were conducted overseas. And secondly, not one of them has been acknowledged by the U.S. government.
U.S. KNEW IN ’74... AND AGAIN IN ’96!
This wasn’t always the case. In fact, the first ever experiment documenting pot’s anti-tumor effects took place in 1974 at the Medical College of Virginia at the behest of the U.S. government. The results of that study, immortalized in an August 18, 1974 Washington Post newspaper feature, were that "THC slowed the growth of lung cancers, breast cancers and a virus-induced leukemia in laboratory mice, and prolonged their lives by as much as 36 percent."
these favorable preliminary findings, U.S. government officials banished
the study, and refused to fund any follow up research until conducting
a similar – though secret – study in the mid-1990s. That
study, conducted by the U.S. National Toxicology Program to the tune
of $2 million concluded that mice and rats administered high doses
of THC over long periods had greater protection against malignant
tumors than untreated controls. However, rather than publicize their
findings, government researchers shelved the results – which
only became public one year later after a draft copy of its findings
were leaked in 1997 to the journal AIDS Treatment News, which in
turn forwarded the story to the national media.
SCIENCE IGNORED NO MORE
Fortunately, researchers at Madrid, Spain’s Complutense University, School of Biology have generously picked up where U.S. researchers so abruptly left off. In 1998, the research team – led by investigator Manuel Guzman – discovered that THC can selectively induce program cell death in brain tumor cells without negatively impacting the surrounding healthy cells. Then in 2000, Guzman’s team reported in the journal Nature Medicine that injections of synthetic THC eradicated malignant gliomas (brain tumors) in one-third of treated rats, and prolonged life in another third by six weeks. A commentary to the study noted that the results were the first to convincingly demonstrate that cannabis-based treatments may successfully combat cancer.
Today, Guzman believes that enough favorable clinical evidence exists supporting pot’s anti-cancer properties to warrant clinical trials in humans. "The scientific community has gained substantial knowledge of the palliative and anti-tumor actions of cannabinoids during the past few years," Guzman wrote in the October 2003 issue of Nature Reviews Cancer. "Anti-tumor compounds should selectively affect tumor cells [and] it seems that cannabinoids can do this, as they kill [malignant] tumor cells but do not affect their non-transformed counterparts and might even protect them from cell death. ... As cannabinoids are relatively safe compounds, it would be desirable that clinical trials using cannabinoids ... could accompany [ongoing] laboratory studies to allow us to use these compounds in the treatment of cancer." Guzman concludes the article by noting that the Spanish Ministry of Health recently approved a human clinical trial – the first ever – aimed at investigating the effects of intracranially administered THC on the life expectancy of volunteers suffering from malignant brain tumors.
research continues to show tremendous potential in the treatment
of cancer," summarizes University of Southern California professor
Mitch Earleywine, author of the book Understanding Marijuana: A New
Look at the Scientific Evidence. However, he laments that the "vast
majority of this work originates outside the United States, often
in countries that lack our economic and scientific advantages. Let’s
hope that our drug policy won’t stymie the battle against the
second leading cause of death in America."
Armentano is the senior policy analyst for the NORML Foundation in
THE MAPLE LEAF FOREVER
In recent weeks, federal drug warrior John Walters has turned his attention to the latest and apparently, in his esteemed opinion, greatest threat: Canadian marijuana.
head of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy --
the "drug czar" -- in recent months has bemoaned the increase
in availability of the allegedly superpotent Canadian bud. Canada
has less strict marijuana laws than the U.S., and our northern neighbors
have allegedly been cultivating strains that contain about 7% THC,
more than triple the amount commonly found in U.S. pot in the Seventies.
Unfortunately for Walters, the U.S. Department of Justice doesn't agree with his dire dope assessments. According to the annual National Drug Threat Assessment report, released in April by the National Drug Intelligence Center, California and Mexico produce most of the pot smoked in the U.S., and growers in Hawaii are credited as the "leading source of high-potency marijuana." Further, contrary to Walters' claims, the increase in marijuana-related emergency room visits has "not been significant."
press time, the fight over the latest Nevada marijuana-legalization
ballot initiative was raging on, as supporters waited on the U.S.
9th Circuit Court of Appeals to give a final nod on its fate. On
Sept. 2, Silver State election officials announced that initiative
supporters had gathered about 2,000 fewer signatures than the number
required to secure the measure a place on the November ballot.
At issue is the Nevada secretary of state's decision to rule invalid the petition signatures of people who signed up in support of the measure on the same day they registered to vote. The Silver State's last citizen initiative to decriminalize marijuana was vociferously opposed by Walters, whose campaign activities there led to previous legal actions alleging the drug czar violated the federal Hatch Act, which restricts the political activities of government employees.
MAP posted-by: Richard Lake
Compound Chokes Brain Tumors
Budding therapy: New evidence supports previous findings that cannabinoids, the main active ingredients in marijuana, can fight cancer.
main active ingredients, cannabinoids, appear to restrict blood supply
to brain tumors, a finding that supports their use to fight brain
cancer and could lead to new cannabinoid-based cancer treatments.
VEGF is known to facilitate cancer growth by stimulating blood vessel formation, and some studies suggest that it also directly promotes tumor cell proliferation. "Blockade of the VEGF pathway constitutes one of the most promising antitumoral approaches currently available," says Guzmán.
Glioblastoma multiforme is a highly aggressive form of a type of brain tumor called a glioma. The disease strikes more than 7,000 Americans each year, generally resulting in death within one to two years following diagnosis.
treatment for glioblastoma multiforme is surgery and then radiotherapy
alone or in combination with chemotherapy. Unfortunately, such treatment
often yields unfavorable results.
This wasn't the first time that marijuana had been found to fight cancer, however. As far back as 1974, a US government funded study at the Medical College of Virginia in Richmond found evidence that ingredients in marijuana slowed the growth of three kinds of cancer in mice, but the study was subsequently shut down and its findings little reported.
Cannabinoids appear to work by inhibiting angiogenesis—a process involving the formation of new blood vessels from pre-existing ones. Angiogenesis is a normal process in growth and development, but also supplies tumors with the vital nutrients they need to grow.
Although prior experiments with cannabinoids yielded promising results for treating tumors, researchers knew little about the specific mechanisms by which cannabinoids inhibited blood vessel growth. In addition, the researchers didn't know whether the cannabinoids would do the same for human tumors.
Stemming the flow
To address these issues, Guzmán and colleagues induced gliomas in mice, and then injected them with cannabinoids. Using DNA microarray analysis—a technique to swiftly screen for the activity of many genes at once—the researchers found that cannabinoids lowered the expression of certain genes involved in the VEGF pathway.
They also discovered that cannabinoids seemed to work by increasing the activity of ceramide, a type of fat produced in the body that can cause some types of cells to die. By stimulating ceramide activity, cannabinoids inhibited cells needed for VEGF production. Conversely, inhibiting ceramide activity decreased the ability of cannabinoids to alter VEGF production.
To study the ability of cannabinoids to inhibit the growth of blood vessels in human tumors, Guzmán and colleagues obtained tumor samples from two people with glioblastomas who had failed to benefit from standard therapy.
After cannabinoid injections, the researchers found that VEGF levels in the tumors decreased, just as they did in experiments on mice, suggesting a potential strategy to treat intractable brain tumors.
is essential to develop new therapeutic strategies for the management
of glioblastoma multiforme," say the researchers, "which
will most likely require a combination of therapies to obtain significant
Profound effects of THC (Study)
Analgesia is one of the most profound effects of THC in most species after its parenteral administration, and THC had shown equivalent potency to morphine in rats and mice in a variety of analgesic tests, including the tail-flick latency measurements (Buxbaum, 1972; Sofia et al., 1975). Several synthetic cannabinoids have also shown analgesic activities in animal models selective for detecting opiate analgesics (Johnson et al., 1981). These models included the tail clip and hot-plate tests in mice and rats. The analgesic potency of a prototype synthetic cannabinoid after its subcutaneous administration was also similar to that of morphine (Johnson et al., 1982).
CT-3 showed marked analgesic activity in the hot-plate and tail clip tests in mice after i.g. and i.p. administration with potency similar to that of morphine sulfate. The analgesic ED50 values for morphine sulfate that were obtained in the present tests were very similar to the previously reported ED50 values in similar tests (Dajani et al., 1977). In addition, CT-3 showed marked analgesic activity in the rat tail clip test. Unlike narcotic analgesics, CT-3 did not induce Straub tail reaction, miosis, or muscular rigidity (Dajani et al., 1977). However, like opiates, the analgesic activity of CT-3 was also accompanied by decreased spontaneous motor activity. As previously observed with other cannabinoids, CT-3 induced catalepsy that occurred at high multiples of its analgesic doses (Abood and Martin, 1992; Fride and Mechoulam, 1993). These analgesic studies clearly indicate that CT-3 has an analgesic action with potency similar to that of morphine.
The oral and i.p. analgesic ED50 values of CT-3 in mice and rats were essentially similar, suggesting that this drug has good oral absorption and bioavailability. Cannabinoids, however, have erratic oral absorption (Agurell et al., 1986). For example, the oral absorption of THC was reported to be slow and erratic with low bioavailability (Ohlsson et al., 1980). Due to the combined effect of first-pass hepatic metabolism and high lipid solubility, only 10 to 20% of the orally administered dose of THC reaches the systemic circulation. In addition, the absorption of THC from the GI tract was influenced by fasting or food deprivation. Fasting was found to decrease the rate of absorption of -9-THC when administered in a sesame oil vehicle (Pryor et al., 1977). In contrast, the synthetic cannabinoid nabilone was readily absorbed in humans when orally administered as a coprecipitate with polyvinylpyrrolidone (Rubin et al., 1977). These observations suggest that the oral bioavailability of cannabinoids depends not only on their chemical structures but also on the type of pharmaceutical formulation used.
In the present study, we explored the relative pharmacological availability of CT-3 after oral and parenteral administration. To permit CT-3 to be dissolved, DMSO was used for the preparation of acceptable pharmaceutical formulation because CT-3 is completely soluble in this solvent. The dose of DMSO used in such formulation was 5 ml/kg, which was well below its LD50 value of 20 ml/kg (Gosseline et al., 1984). However, it is recognized that DMSO not only enhances the solubility of lipophilic drugs but also may affect their transport across many organs (e.g., blood-brain barrier). The presumably enhanced transport of CT-3 by DMSO could result in the augmentation of not only desirable but also undesirable pharmacological actions. Thus, a comparison of several pharmacological actions of CT-3 in the presence and absence of DMSO in rats would establish whether DMSO had interacted with CT-3.
The coadministration of CT-3, administered at low doses, with DMSO slightly but significantly reduced its analgesic actions. In addition, when CT-3 was administered at very high doses, DMSO enhanced and prolonged its depressant effects on spontaneous motor activity, respiratory depression, and catalepsy. Furthermore, the acute i.g. administration of high doses of CT-3 with DMSO was associated with GI ulcerogenicity, whereas acute administration of CT-3 without DMSO, either i.g. or i.p., was not associated with any GI ulcerations. The fact that DMSO administered alone without CT-3 was not associated with the induction of ulcer formation indicates that the ulcer associated with the combined administration of CT-3 with DMSO was due to a synergistic response. These observations indicate that the use of DMSO as solvent for the preparation of pharmaceutical formulations of CT-3 should be completely avoided.
chronic administration of CT-3 at a large multiple (>300) of its
effective anti-inflammatory dosage was not associated with GI ulceration,
whereas the reference standard indomethacin was clearly ulcerogenic
even when administered at small multiples of its effective anti-inflammatory
dosage. The model used in the present study for the assessment of
the drug-induced ulcer in rat has good predictive value with drug-induced
ulcer in humans (Lanza et al., 1986; Dajani and Agrawal, 1990). The
mechanisms for the induction of ulcer associated with the combined
use of CT-3 with DMSO are unknown.
The present results indicate that there is a species-dependent toxicity for CT-3. In rats, the i.g. LD50 value of CT-3 exceeded 1000 mg/kg in the presence or absence of DMSO, whereas its i.p. LD50 value was estimated to be 494 mg/kg. In mice, the i.g. and i.p. LD50 values were 200 and 136 mg/kg, respectively. The i.g.-to-i.p. LD50 ratio for CT-3 was approximately equal to 2 in both species, which suggests that this drug has a good bioavailability in both species. The basis for the increased toxicity of CT-3 in mice compared with that in rats is unknown but may reflect differences in the metabolic biotransformation of this drug.
The ED50 analysis of the time course of major pharmacological observations noted with CT-3 in rats provided useful information about its peak and duration of actions. Because analgesia is a desirable pharmacological action for CT-3, analysis of this parameter indicates that CT-3 has a peak effect of 1 h and a duration of 5 to 24 h in rats. In mice, the duration of the analgesic action of CT-3 was maintained for about 5 h.
The mechanism of the analgesic action of CT-3 is unknown at the present time; however, cannabinoid-induced analgesia is considered multifactorial, affecting both central and peripheral receptors and involving an interaction with the cannabinoid receptors (Richardson et al., 1998), prostaglandins (Peres-Reyes et al., 1991), and opiate receptors (Smith et al., 1993, 1998). Clearly, additional studies are required to establish the mechanism of the analgesic actions of CT-3.
Narcotic analgesics are well established for inducing physical dependence in animals and in humans, whereas cannabinoid dependence has been controversial. Some investigators were unable to demonstrate physical dependence on cannabis (Harris et al., 1974; Leite and Carlini, 1974), whereas other investigators were successful in showing physical dependence (Jones et al., 1976; Dewey, 1986; Pertwee, 1991). However, the discovery of the specific cannabinoid receptor antagonist SR 141716A permitted definitive investigation of the dependence liability of cannabinoids (Rinaldi-Carmona et al., 1994). Studies using high doses of THC followed by the antagonist SR 141716A demonstrated withdrawal signs in rats (Aceto et al., 1996) and in mice (Cook et al., 1998) that are consistent with animal studies of other addictive drugs. Furthermore, it has been established that cannabinoid dependence is related to the dose and frequency of its exposure (Martin, 1995). At this time, it is unknown whether CT-3 would have the capacity for the induction of physical dependence, and additional studies are required to address this issue.
The analgesic action of CT-3 is well confirmed in rats and in mice. Available evidence indicates that CT-3 exhibits two distinct pharmacological properties: an anti-inflammatory property occurring at a very low dose (ED50 = ~0.1 mg/kg i.g.; Zurier et al., 1998) and an analgesic property occurring at a higher dose (ED50 = ~5 mg/kg i.g. and i.p.). The present results indicate that CT-3 is an orally effective analgesic drug, and acceptable pharmaceutical formulation of CT-3 would not require the adjuvant use of permeability enhancers to promote its bioavailability. CT-3 clearly warrants clinical development as an analgesic and anti-inflammatory drug.
Marijuana Extract Fights Brain Cancer in Mice
The current debate over medical marijuana hinges on its use as pain medication. But an extract of the plant could one day form the basis of cancer treatments. New findings indicate that cannabis extracts can shrink brain tumors by blocking the growth of blood vessels that nourish them.
Manuel Guzman of Complutense University in Spain and his colleagues tested extracts of marijuana known as delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinols in 30 mice that had brain tumors. The researchers analyzed the animals' DNA and identified 267 genes associated with blood vessel growth, or angiogenesis. The cannabinoids inhibited the expression of several genes critical to angiogenesis known as the VEGF pathway.
“Blockade of the VEGF pathway constitutes one of the most promising antitumoral approaches currently available,” Guzman says. The cannabinoids, they determined, work by increasing the potency of a fat molecule known as ceramide, the team posits. Increased ceramide activity, in turn, inhibits cells that would normally produce vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and encourage blood vessel growth.
The scientists also tested the therapy on tumors taken from two patients who had not responded to conventional therapy for their glioblastoma, a deadly form of brain cancer. After the cannabinoid injections, both tumors exhibited decreased VEGF levels.
Writing in the current issue of the journal Cancer Research, the team notes, however, that a combination of therapies will most likely be required to obtain significant clinical results.
does not induce schizophrenia,
A group of Dutch scientists say that there is no proof that cannabis induces schizophrenia. These findings will be embarrassing for the Dutch government, which has been bearing down on Marijuana Coffee Shops saying the drug induces schizophrenia.
You can read about this study in the journal Psychiatry.
The scientists say in the journal that after reviewing currently available data there is justifiable reason for closing down coffee shops in The Netherlands.
The scientists say the drug only seems to affect people who are genetically predisposed to getting schizophrenia (meaning they will get it anyway). As schizophrenia manifests itself during adolescence, and many people start taking cannabis during adolescence – it is just coincidence that some people develop the mental illness soon after they start taking the drug.
authors of the report wrote "It is therefore advisable that
youngsters with a family history of schizophrenia and patients with
a schizophrenic disorder be discouraged from using cannabis."
The sale of alcohol in Dutch coffee shops is being banned this year.
Cannabis may have long-term benefit for MS
Patricia Reaney - Reuters Health
EXETER, England (Reuters) - Cannabis-based treatments may have longer-term benefits for multiple sclerosis patients, scientists said on Friday.
The findings of a short, 15-week trial of MS patients published last year were inconclusive because although patients reported relief in muscle stiffness, rigidity and mobility, the findings could not be confirmed by physiotherapists.
But Dr John Zajicek, of the Peninsula Medical School at the Universities of Exeter and Plymouth in southwestern England who headed the study, told a conference there seemed to be further benefits for patients who continued treatment for a year.
"In the short term-study there was some evidence of cannabinoids alleviating symptoms of multiple sclerosis; in the longer term there is a suggestion of a more useful beneficial effect, which was not clear at the initial stage," he said.
Cannabis contains more than 60 different cannabinoids. The most active is thought to be tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
The 667 patients in the original study, which was reported in The Lancet medical journal, were given a cannabis extract or capsules with a synthetic version of THC or a placebo for 15 weeks.
About 80 percent of patients opted to continue the treatments for up to a year.
"We have generated interesting results which suggest there may be long-term benefits," Zajicek told a news conference at the annual meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science.
But he added that more research is needed to confirm the findings, which will be published later this year.
MS, which affects about one million people worldwide, is a disease in which immune system cells destroy the myelin sheath that protects the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord.
Although cannabinoids have been used in medicine for thousands of years, until recently there has been little scientific evidence of any therapeutic values.
Last year, the Netherlands became the world's first country to make cannabis available as a prescription drug for cancer, HIV and MS. In the United States it is used to treat weight loss in AIDS patients and nausea and vomiting in cancer sufferers.
Copyright © 2004 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters. Reuters shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon. Reuters and the Reuters sphere logo are registered trademarks and trademarks of the Reuters group of companies around the world.
WATCH for Marylynne and Alison's
MAP Inc. ...