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Arrest MS, Not Patients

Discussion in 'Medical Marijuana Usage and Applications' started by RMJL, Sep 24, 2003.

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    Pubdate: Mon, 21 Sep 2003
    Source: United Press International (Wire)
    Copyright: 2003 United Press International
    Author: Paul Armentano
    Note: The author is a senior policy analyst for the NORML Foundation, a
    group that supports the liberalization of America's marijuana laws, in
    Also: The first photos of the march on Washington are on line at - more to follow.
    Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)


    WASHINGTON, Sept. 22 (UPI) -- A potential breakthrough in the treatment of
    multiple sclerosis could lie on the horizon, and it may come from an unlikely
    source: marijuana.

    According to clinical findings published in the most recent issue of the
    journal Brain, cannabinoids (ingredients in marijuana) offer neuroprotection
    against allergic encephalomyelitis (EAE), an animal model of MS. After
    analyzing the findings, authors at London's Institute of Neurology concluded,
    "In addition to symptom management, cannabis may also slow down the
    neurodegenerative processes that ultimately lead to chronic disability in
    multiple sclerosis and probably other diseases."

    Their statement gives hope to the estimated 350,000 patients in the United
    States living with MS, a debilitating and sometimes fatal disorder of the
    central nervous system. Although previous human studies have indicated that pot
    may provide therapeutic relief to common symptoms of MS such as muscle spasms,
    tremor, and incontinence, the London study is one of the first to indicate that
    cannabinoids may also potentially stave off the disease.

    Unfortunately, far too many politicians remain in the dark about marijuana's
    medicinal value, with many in Congress opting to punish medicinal pot patients
    rather than support them. In an effort to change this view, dozens of MS
    patients who use marijuana therapeutically are descending on Washington this
    week to bring needed attention to the medicinal marijuana issue. Patients will
    be holding a candlelight vigil in front of the Supreme Court in honor of Cheryl
    Miller -- a longtime medical marijuana activist who died of MS-related
    complications in June -- as well as a press conference with various members of
    Congress in support of House Bill 2233, the "States' Rights to Medical
    Marijuana Act."

    "Throughout much of her life, Cheryl risked arrest and jail to use the only
    medication that alleviated her suffering," remembers her husband Jim Miller,
    organizer of the patient march on Washington. "I hope that by bringing
    attention to the plight of my late wife Cheryl, I can hasten the day when
    marijuana will be made available so that others are no longer needlessly forced
    to suffer with pain or risk arrest."

    Further research on the use of marijuana as a medicine is forthcoming.
    Nevertheless, it appears that many MS sufferers have already learned what the
    scientific community is just now discovering. For example, a recent British
    survey of MS patients found that 43 percent of respondents used marijuana
    therapeutically. Among them, nearly three quarters said that pot mitigated
    their spasms, and more than half said it alleviated their pain.

    Clinical data published in the spring edition of the journal Clinical
    Rehabilitation affirmed these perceptions. The study, performed by researchers
    at Oxford University, found that MS patients administered whole-plant marijuana
    extracts experienced improved pain relief, bladder control, and spasticity
    compared to placebo. As a result, these pot extracts are now being evaluated by
    the UK's National Institute for Clinical Excellence, which is expected to make
    a decision regarding the drugs' legalization this fall.

    Meanwhile, a survey published last month in the Canadian Journal of
    Neurological Sciences reported that 96 percent of Canadian MS patients believe
    that marijuana is therapeutically useful for treating the disease. Of those who
    admitted using marijuana medicinally, the majority found it to be beneficial,
    particularly in the treatment of chronic pain, spasticity and depression.

    With scientific evidence mounting and large numbers of MS sufferers already
    using marijuana medicinally, it's time to for Congress to acknowledge pot's
    emerging role as a therapeutic agent, and stand up for the rights of patients
    who ease their pain and suffering through the use of marijuana.
    - ---

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