Medical marijuana may help some symptoms, but not all


WASHINGTON: Medical marijuana shows some effectiveness in helping treat chronic pain but there is less evidence of its success in warding off nausea or helping ill patients gain weight, researchers said.

The issue of whether or not medical marijuana works remains a matter of debate, even as 23 US states and the US capital, Washington, have laws that allow medical use of cannabis, as do a number of countries around the world.

The findings in the Journal of the American Medical Association, released on Tuesday, were based on a meta-analysis of 79 randomized controlled studies that included a total of nearly 6,500 patients.

“There was moderate-quality evidence to suggest that cannabinoids may be beneficial for the treatment of chronic neuropathic or cancer pain and spasticity due to multiple sclerosis,” said the study, led by researcher Penny Whiting of the University of Bristol.

Less convincing was the evidence “suggesting that cannabinoids were associated with improvements in nausea and vomiting due to chemotherapy, weight gain in HIV, sleep disorders, and Tourette syndrome,” said the study.

Even less certain was marijuana’s impact on reducing anxiety, psychosis or depression.

Meanwhile, medical marijuana carried a long list of side effects, including dizziness, dry mouth, nausea, fatigue, euphoria, vomiting, disorientation, drowsiness, confusion, loss of balance and hallucination.

“Further large, robust randomized clinical trials are needed,” said the study.

An accompanying editorial in JAMA by Deepak Cyril D’Souza and Mohini Ranganathan of the Yale University School of Medicine called for more rigorous study of marijuana when used for medical purposes.

“If the states’ initiative to legalize medical marijuana is merely a veiled step toward allowing access to recreational marijuana, then the medical community should be left out of the process, and instead marijuana should be decriminalized,” they wrote.

“Conversely, if the goal is to make marijuana available for medical purposes, then it is unclear why the approval process should be different from that used for other medications.”



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  1. Frank A. Tucker on

    First let me state that I do NOT use cannabis in any way nor have I ever (used it).

    That said the source of the above mentioned AMA study must be first considered. They are obviously acting overprotective, first of their own image, second of their own image. They have been making these same general statements for 10 or more years and just can’t admit they MAY be incorrect.

    There has been GREAT anecdotal evidence that cannabis and or it’s byproducts DO help MANY symptoms of a great variety of illnesses.
    Whereas this MAY be the placebo effect, if those that use it believe it helps then it at least helps them feel better whether or not it actually prolongs their life.

    The US government still will NOT approve use for a terminally ill patient even though they are hopelessly dying anyway. This is truly sad and speaks volumes of how inconsiderate a bureaucracy can be.