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Compassionate Use? Health Secretary rejects seven of eight conditions for medical marijuana

May 6, 2009, 12:00 am
By SFR Staff
Although the advisory board for the state's Medical Cannabis Program approved eight conditions in April for medical marijuana treatment, Department of Health Secretary Alfredo Vigil unilaterally decided today that only one of them, "severe chronic pain," was legitimately treated by the plant.

Vigil rejected:

  • Alzheimer's Disease

  • post polio syndrome

  • Parkinson's disease

  • Three kinds  of arthritis

  • Inclusion Body Myositis (chronic muscle inflammation accompanied by muscle weakness)


“There was no scientific evidence that medical cannabis would be an acceptable treatment for people with these conditions,” Dr. Vigil said. “We cannot add those diseases into the program until clinical studies are available that support an appropriate role for medical cannabis.”

Hmmm. Really? Sure, as with most conditions, there's very little in the way of clinical trials involving medical marijuana (it's still federally illegal), but NO scientific evidence?  One has to wonder where Vigil gets his information. The panel of doctors on the advisory board seemed to feel there was significant scientific evidence.

One also has to wonder whether Vigil knows how to Google. Search for "medical marijuana, parkinsons" and the first hit is a 2007 study by Standford doctors published in Nature. Another study with similar results was conducted in 2004.

(What this means for the poor soul who testified publicly about his Parkinson's is that he's going to have to continue to risk arrest for self-medication.)

Google Alzheimers and medical marijuana, and you hit a January 2009 report from Ohio State University that says marijuana could help prevent Alzheimers. In 2006, the Scripps Research Institute found that it had the potential to slow the process.

However, he did approve "severe chronic pain," amending the rules to require patients to jump through several new hoops:

"To qualify, patients must have objective proof of severe chronic pain (X-rays, CT scans, MRIs) and receive two recommendations, one from their primary care physician and one  from a specialist consulting on their case. Medical cannabis must be patients' treatment of last resort because no other medication has provided relief. "

How an MRI, X-ray or CT scan can document PAIN, is anyone's guess.

(Read SFR's cover story, Toke '09: Dude, where's my medical marijuana?)

 

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