Date: Fri, 15 Nov 2002 15:34:17 -0800
From: ("LVNORML")
Subject: NORML E-Zine

NORML E-Zine Volume 5 Issue 43 November 14, 2002

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* NORML Head Dismisses British Lung Report * Nearly Half Of Parkinson's Patients Who Try Pot Experience Relief * Twins Who Smoked Marijuana Show No Adverse Effects Compared To Non-Using Siblings * Application Filed With FDA For U.S. Clinical Trials On Pot For Head Trauma

NORML Head Dismisses British Lung Report As Nothing But Hot Air "Any risk presented by marijuana smoking falls within the ambit of choice we permit the individual i a free society," Stroup Says

Washington, DC: A questionable report released this week by the British Lung Foundation (BLF) alleging that marijuana smoke is potentially more hazardous than tobacco smoke must not overshadow years of clinical data indicating that marijuana smokers have no higher rates of lung cancer = than non-users, according to NORML Executive Director Keith Stroup.

"The bottom line is that there exists no epidemiological or aggregate clinical data showing higher rates of lung cancer in eople who smoke marijuana," Stroup said. He cited conclusions from a May 2000 John Hopkins University (Baltimore, MD) study that found no association = between marijuana use and head, neck, or lung cancer in young adults. That = study, which featured 164 participants, is the largest case-controlled study addressing marijuana use and cancer to date.

Stroup noted that the BLF literature review did not cite the John = Hopkins study, nor did it cite a 1997 study by Kaiser Permanente that observed = no increase in deaths over a ten-year period among 14,000+ marijuana = smokers when compared to non-smokers.

Stroup did agree that marijuana smoke arguably carries some health = risks. "Like tobacco smoke, marijuana smoke contains a number of irritants and carcinogens. However, most marijuana-only smokers likely do not inhale enough smoke to cause serious lung damage. In addition, many of these carcinogens may be reduced or eliminated by the use of marijuana vaporizers and other alternative smoking devices currently banned by the U.S. government."

Stroup also noted that the chief psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, THC, is not carcinogenic and may actually offer protection against the development of some malignancies. A 1996 U.S. toxicology study found = that rats administered THC over long periods of time failed to develop cancer and had fewer tumors than rats not given the agent. A follow up study = by a Spanish research team in 2000 found that injections of synthetic THC eradicated malignant brain tumors - so-called gliomas - in one-third of treated rats, and prolonged life in another third by as much as six = weeks.

Lastly, Stroup argued that nothing in the BLF report justifies arresting and jailing responsible adult marijuana smokers. "Any risk presented by marijuana smoking falls within the ambit of choice we permit the individual in a free society," he said. "We do not suggest that = marijuana is totally harmless or that it cannot be abused. That is true for all drugs, including those that are legal. Clearly, however, marijuana's relative risk to the user and society in no way justifies criminal prohibition or the continued arrest of more than 700,000 Americans on marijuana charges every year."

For more information, please contact Keith Stroup of NORML at (202) 483-5500.

Nearly Half Of Parkinson's Patients Who Try Pot Experience Therapeutic Relief, Study Says

Prague, Czech Republic: Nearly half of Parkinson's Disease (PD) patients who have tried marijuana have experienced therapeutic relief from it, according to the results of a survey presented this week at the Movement Disorders Society's Seventh International Congress of Parkinson's and Movement Disorders in Prague.

According to the study's findings, among those patients using marijuana, 46 percent said pot provided symptomatic relief. Forty five percent = said that marijuana relieved symptoms of bradykinesia (slowness of movement), 38 percent said pot relieved muscle rigidit, and 31 percent reported = that it relieved their tremors.

The survey's author, neurologist Evzin Ruzicka of Charles University in Prague, said that patients were more likely to report therapeutic = benefits from cannabis the longer they used it, and speculated that it was = unlikely respondents were experiencing a placebo effect. Among the total number = of respondents to the survey, 25 percent reported having used marijuana.

Although few human trials have been conducted on the use of marijuana to treat symptoms of PD, a 1999 review by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine (IOM) concluded, "The abundance of [cannabinoid] receptors in the basal ganglia and reports of animal = studies showing the involvement of cannabinoids in the control of movement = suggest that [cannabis] might be useful in treating movement disorders" such as Parkinsons Disease in humans.

For more information, please contact Paul Armentano, NORML Director of Publications and Research, at (202) 483-5500.

Twins Who Smoked Marijuana Show No Adverse Effects Compared To Non-Using Siblings, Study Says

St. Louis, MO: Male twins who smoke marijuana show no significant = health or socio-demographic differences than their non-using siblings, = according to the findings of a recent study published in the medical journal Addiction.

Fifty-six pairs of twins participated in the study. The mean number of days for which the marijuana user twin used pot was 1,085. = Non-marijuana users were defined as having tried the drug five times or less.

Authors reported, "No significant differences were found between the former marijuana user twins and their siblings for current socio-demographic characteristics; current nicotine or alcohol use; lifetime nicotine or alcohol/dependence; past 5-year out-patient or hospitalizations; or health-related quality of life."

They concluded, "Previous heavy marijuana use ... does not appear to be associated with adverse socio-demographic, physical or mental adverse health effects."

For more information, please contact either Allen St. Pierre or Paul Armentano of The NORML Foundation at (202) 483-8751. Full text of the study appears in Volume 97, Issue 9 (September) of Addiction.

_________________________________________________________________________= _ Application Filed With FDA For U.S. Clinical Trials On Pot For Head = Trauma

Iselin, NJ: An Israeli-based pharmaceutical company announced recently that it has submitted an Investigational New Drug (IND) application with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to begin Phase III human trials on the effectiveness of the synthetic marijuana derivative Dexanabinol for the treatment of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). If their application is approved, it will be the first time that such human = trails have been conducted in the U.S.

A previous Phase II trial of 67 Israeli patients by the Pharmos Corporation demonstrated that Dexanabinol reduced mortality and eased intracranial pressure in patients suffering from severe head injuries.

Currently, more than 400 patients worldwide are taking part in the Phase III study on Dexanabinol, including volunteers from Australia, France = and Germany. Pharmos hopes to establish an additional 30 recruitment = centers in the U.S. to assist with the study, according to the company's press release.

Phase III is the final stage of drug testing before regulatory approval.

For more information, please contact Paul Armentano, NORML Director of Publications and Research, at (202) 483-5500.

Support NORML's efforts to change marijuana policy and educate the = public to alternatives to marijuana prohibition. You can join or donate online at:

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