Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Expert Opinion Paper - National MS Society Makes Recommendations Regarding Therapeutic Use Of Cannabis

Washington, DC: Cannabis has the potential to treat symptoms of multiple sclerosis as well as limit the progression of the disease, according to an expert opinion paper published by the US National Multiple Sclerosis Society. However, the Society stopped short of recommending that MS patients use the drug medicinally.

“Although it is clear that cannabinoids have potential both for the management of MS symptoms such as pain and spasticity, as well as for neuroprotection, the Society cannot at this time recommend that medical marijuana be made widely available to people with MS for symptom management,” the Society concludes. “This situation might change, should better data become available that clearly demonstrate benefit.”

The Society recommends that future clinical trials focus on methods of cannabinoid administration that deliver the drug to the bloodstream rapidly, such as vaporization.

The Society also recommends clinical trials be performed to investigate and quantify cannabis’ potential to slow disease progression, citing “anecdotal reports from patients … that cannabis reduces the frequency of their MS attacks.”

Investigators at Plymouth’s Peninsula Medical School in Britain recently announced that they had recruited nearly 500 MS patients for a three-year clinical trial assessing whether the use of oral THC can significantly slow the onset of multiple sclerosis.

Clinical data reported in 2006 from an extended open-label study of 167 multiple sclerosis patients found that the use of whole plant cannabinoid extracts relieved symptoms of pain, spasticity, and bladder incontinence for an extended period of treatment (mean duration of study participants was 434 days) without requiring subjects to increase their dose.

Results from a separate two-year open label extension trial in 2007 also reported that the administration of cannabis extracts was associated with long-term reductions in neuropathic pain in select MS patients. On average, patients in the study required fewer daily doses of the drug and reported lower median pain scores the longer they took it.

Commenting on the MS Society report, NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said: “The MS Society’s recommendations are a positive step, but they don’t go far enough. Surveys indicate that as many as one out of two MS patients use cannabis therapeutically, yet this report does nothing to challenge these patients legal status as criminals.”

For more information, please contact Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: paul@norml.orgThis e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

Full text of the MS Society paper, “Recommendations Regarding the Use of Cannabis in Multiple Sclerosis”. Additional information on cannabinoids and multiple sclerosis is available from NORML. The paper can also be downloaded from the NMSS web site in PDF format by clicking on the title of this posting.