Archive for the ‘Science’ Category
CLEAR has published a revised and updated version of its leaflet on medicinal cannabis. This will shortly be available for purchase and for inclusion in membership packs. As with the previous version we shall also be carrying our carefully targeted and timed leafleting campaigns. Each year we choose a relevant day to saturate Parliament Square and Whitehall with the CLEAR message.
If you have an event or an opportunity to distribute leaflets, please get in touch. We are always ready to consider a special print run.
Julia George interviews Peter Reynolds of CLEAR, following publication of the report ‘Medicinal Cannabis:The Evidence’. Nick Rijke, of the MS Society, comments on using cannabis to treat multiple sclerosis and how Sativex, the only licensed cannabis medicine, is very difficult to obtain on prescription.
The report details an extraordinary quantity of peer-reviewed, published evidence that demonstrates the efficacy and safety of using cannabis to treat a wide range of conditions. It looks in detail at five therapeutic areas where the evidence is strongest: Alzheimer’s Disease, Cancer, Chronic Pain, Crohn’s Disease and Multiple Sclerosis.
Archaeological and written evidence suggests mankind has used cannabis for medicinal purposes for as long as 10,000 years. In the 19th century nearly half of all medicines in the British and US pharmacopeia contained cannabis. With the rise of new pharmaceutical medicines it fell into disuse but in 1996 California introduced the first ‘medical marijuana’ laws. Now 210 million people in 34 US states and 250 million people in nine European countries have some form of legal access.
Peter Reynolds, author of the report, said:
“This review finally does away with the myth that there is no proof of the value of medicinal cannabis. There is high quality evidence available from dozens of different sources, including double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trials. No one who examines the evidence can be in any doubt, any longer. This is a medicine that saves lives and rescues people from pain, suffering and disability with far fewer dangerous and unpleasant side effects than pharmaceutical products. We must move urgently to allow doctors to start prescribing and introduce professional training in the use of cannabis medicines”
The report is available to download from the CLEAR website: http://clear-uk.org/static/media/Reports/medicinal_cannabis-_the_evidence_v1.1.pdf
CLEAR Cannabis Law Reform is the UK’s leading drugs policy reform group with more than 330,000 followers. It aims to end the prohibition of cannabis most urgently for those who need it as medicine. CLEAR also advocates replacing the anarchic mess of prohibition with a framework of regulation which would allow proper control of the product’s strength and quality while providing protection for children and the vulnerable.
CLEAR’s policies are based on independent, expert research carried out by the Independent Drug Monitoring Unit in 2011: http://clear-uk.org/media/uploads/2011/09/TaxUKCan.pdf
CLEAR’s detailed proposals for cannabis regulation, ‘How To Regulate Cannabis In Britain’: http://clear-uk.org/static/media/uploads/2013/10/CLEAR-plan-V2.pdf
Most of the evidence concerning cannabis and cancer is in vitro or in vivo (animals). There is virtually none in humans, only human cell lines in petri dishes. There is no evidence of a curative effect. The only clinical trial was purified THC fed directly into glioma brain tumours in nine patients. Eight showed some benefit but all were dead within one year.
The evidence almost certainly will come but it does not yet exist and may require specific extracts, concentrates or other processes to produce reliable, consistent, clinical results.
This is a pre-publication extract from ‘Medicinal Cannabis:The Evidence’, the most comprehensive and up to date review of the evidence on medicinal cannabis, shortly to be published by CLEAR.
Studies And Clinical Trials
The anti cancer properties of THC, CBD, CBG and other cannabinoids are well established. Scientists have been investigating them since the early 1970s and more than 1100 papers on cannabinoids and cancer have been published. (42)
It is also well established that cannabis helps with the side effects of cancer treatments, particularly nausea and lack of appetite. (43,44,45,46)
Cannabis may also help alleviate anxiety, depression, insomnia and mood disorders in cancer patients. However, some patients may find exactly the opposite results (47)
A very large quantity of anecdotal reports detail remarkable results with cannabis oil on many different forms of cancer. (48) One of the most important properties of cannabis as a cancer therapy is that it is non-toxic and even if little therapeutic effect is achieved, it causes little harm.
On balance, while there is good evidence of anti cancer properties in vitro (human cell lines) and in vivo (animal) studies, there is little evidence of actual results in humans except in the treatment of basal cell carcinoma (49). However, few would disagree that the palliative value of cannabis is of great benefit to many cancer patients. (50)
Clinical trials are underway on cancer pain (51) and the treatment of glioma brain cancer (52).
These selected studies indicate the evidence currently available.
Cannabinoids and cancer: potential for colorectal cancer therapy. Biochem Soc Trans. 2005. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16042581 (53)
A pilot clinical study of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol in patients with recurrent glioblastoma multiforme, British Journal of Cancer, 2006 http://www.nature.com/bjc/journal/v95/n2/full/6603236a.html (54)
Cannabinoids for Cancer Treatment: Progress and Promise. Cancer Res. 2008. http://cancerres.aacrjournals.org/content/68/2/339 (55)
Cannabidiol Induces Programmed Cell Death in Breast Cancer Cells by Coordinating the Cross-talk between Apoptosis and Autophagy. Mol Cancer Ther., 2011. http://mct.aacrjournals.org/content/10/7/1161.long (56)
The intersection between cannabis and cancer in the United States. CROH, 2011. http://www.croh-online.com/article/S1040-8428(11)00231-9/fulltext (57)
Cannabinoids: a new hope for breast cancer therapy? Cancer Treat Rev. 2012 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22776349 (58)
Towards the use of cannabinoids as antitumour agents. Nat Rev Cancer. 2012 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22555283 (59)
Cannabis Extract Treatment for Terminal Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia with a Philadelphia Chromosome Mutation. Case Rep Oncol. 2013. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3901602/ (60)
Non-hallucinogenic cannabinoids are effective anti-cancer drugs. Anticancer Research, 2013. http://www.sgul.ac.uk/news/news/study-shows-non-hallucinogenic-cannabinoids-are-effective-anti-cancer-drugs (61)
Cannabidiol as potential anticancer drug. Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2013. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22506672%20 (62)
Cannabis, cannabinoids and cancer – the evidence so far. Cancer Research UK, 2014. http://scienceblog.cancerresearchuk.org/2012/07/25/cannabis-cannabinoids-and-cancer-the-evidence-so-far/ (63)
The Combination of Cannabidiol and Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol Enhances the Anticancer Effects of Radiation in an Orthotopic Murine Glioma Model. Mol.Cancer.Ther. 2014. http://mct.aacrjournals.org/content/13/12/2955 (64)
42. PubMed search term ‘cannabinoid cancer’ http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?term=cannabinoid%20cancer
43. Cannabis and Cannabinoids. National Cancer Institute, 2014 http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/cam/cannabis/healthprofessional/page5
44. Cannabinoids in medicine: A review of their therapeutic potential. JEthPharm, 2006. http://www.ww.ufcw770.org/sites/all/themes/danland/files/CannabinoidsMedMetaAnalysis06.pdf
45. Review on clinical studies with cannabis and cannabinoids 2005-2009. IACM 2010. http://www.cannabis-med.org/data/pdf/en_2010_01_special.pdf
46. Medical marijuana for cancer. CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, 2014. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.3322/caac.21260/abstract
47. Cannabis and Cannabinoids. National Cancer Institute, 2014 http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/cam/cannabis/healthprofessional/page5
48. Cannabis Oil Testimonials. Cure Your Own Cancer, 2014. http://www.cureyourowncancer.org/testimonials.html
49. Physician’s documentation confirms successful treatment of basal cell carcinoma resulted from the application of a topical cannabis extract. Cannabis Science, 2011. http://www.cannabisscience.com/2011/499-cannabis-science-provides-physician-s-documentation-that-confirms-successful-treatment-of-skin-cancer
50. Cannabis in Palliative Medicine: Improving Care and Reducing Opioid-Related Morbidity. AM J HOSP PALLIAT CARE, 2011. http://ajh.sagepub.com/content/28/5/297
51. Third phase III Sativex cancer pain trial commences http://www.gwpharm.com/Third%20phase%20III%20Sativex%20cancer%20pain%20trial%20commences.aspx
52. GW Pharmaceuticals Commences Phase 1b/2a Clinical Trial for the Treatment of Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM) http://is.gd/Wac81a
53. Cannabinoids and cancer: potential for colorectal cancer therapy. Biochem Soc Trans. 2005. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16042581
54. A pilot clinical study of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol in patients with recurrent glioblastoma multiforme, British Journal of Cancer, 2006 http://www.nature.com/bjc/journal/v95/n2/full/6603236a.html
55. Cannabinoids for Cancer Treatment: Progress and Promise. Cancer Res. 2008. http://cancerres.aacrjournals.org/content/68/2/339
56. Cannabidiol Induces Programmed Cell Death in Breast Cancer Cells by Coordinating the Cross-talk between Apoptosis and Autophagy. Mol Cancer Ther., 2011. http://mct.aacrjournals.org/content/10/7/1161.long
57. The intersection between cannabis and cancer in the United States. CROH, 2011. http://www.croh-online.com/article/S1040-8428(11)00231-9/fulltext
58. Cannabinoids: a new hope for breast cancer therapy? Cancer Treat Rev. 2012 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22776349
59. Towards the use of cannabinoids as antitumour agents. Nat Rev Cancer. 2012 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22555283
60. Cannabis Extract Treatment for Terminal Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia with a Philadelphia Chromosome Mutation. Case Rep Oncol. 2013. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3901602/
61. Non-hallucinogenic cannabinoids are effective anti-cancer drugs. Anticancer Research, 2013. http://www.sgul.ac.uk/news/news/study-shows-non-hallucinogenic-cannabinoids-are-effective-anti-cancer-drugs
62. Cannabidiol as potential anticancer drug. Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2013. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22506672%20
63. Cannabis, cannabinoids and cancer – the evidence so far. Cancer Research UK, 2014. http://scienceblog.cancerresearchuk.org/2012/07/25/cannabis-cannabinoids-and-cancer-the-evidence-so-far/
64. The Combination of Cannabidiol and Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol Enhances the Anticancer Effects of Radiation in an Orthotopic Murine Glioma Model. Mol.Cancer.Ther. 2014. http://mct.aacrjournals.org/content/13/12/2955
Some people think the BBC is right wing and others think it’s run by a bunch of commie subversives. Personally I’d say it’s soft left, mumsy, pro-status quo. It supports the establishment and that means it’s always been negative about cannabis. If it isn’t joining in the demonisation of us – the three million psychotic axe murderers that use cannabis regularly in the UK – then it takes a jokey, sarcastic, snide angle.
So the release of a short news video report today ‘Can cannabis oil cure serious diseases like cancer?’ is a big step forward. Even better, it’s fronted by Alastair Leithead, a credible, intelligent journalist, not by some ‘celebrity doctor’ or the ‘addiction expert’ Professor John Marsden, who presented the disgraceful and misleading ‘America’s Stoned Kids’ in 2012, where he tried to pin adolescents with cannabis problems on Colorado’s legalisation even though it hadn’t even come into force at the time.
Mark my words, this is a step change, a seminal moment.
Perhaps, at last, the UK media will start treating medicinal cannabis seriously as has been happening in America and Australia for many years. We’ve already seen some local newspapers publishing intelligent articles and the Daily Mail has jumped on the bandwagon of sensationalist stories about treating childhood epilepsy. All we need now is The Times, The Guardian and the Sundays to give it the attention it deserves. The Daily Telegraph has become the new home of ‘reefer madness’, with appalling distortion of science, more tabloid than a tabloid. But we don’t need it anymore, it’s made itself irrelevant.
So watch this short video. It includes interviews with Kat Arney of Cancer Research UK, a woman who is cancer free after rejecting chemotherapy and only using cannabis oil and a sceptical Professor David Agus, who is entirely correct that there is no credible scientific evidence yet available that cannabis cures cancer.
It’s coming though. CLEAR is about to publish the most comprehensive, up to date paper ‘Medicinal Cannabis:The Evidence’. A leading pharmacologist is about to publish a paper supporting a move of cannabis from schedule one to schedule two and various clinical trials are coming to fruition.
All the more reason to be optimistic that the next Parliament will have no option but to introduce long-overdue reform.
What is this ‘hash’ that looks like weed and this ‘skunk’ that isn’t cannabis?
Channel 4’s ‘Drugs Live:Cannabis On Trial‘ played fast and loose with facts, terminology and ethical considerations.
To be fair, I greatly enjoyed the programme (well I would wouldn’t I) and there was some fascinating science. Particularly about how the brain responds to music when you’re high and about how CBD protects the ‘salience network’, the key to motivation. This gives weight to the theory of an ‘amotivational syndrome’.
In a week’s time though, all that most of the public will remember is Jon Snow saying that using ‘skunk’ was more terrifying than being in a war zone and his distorted reporting of the recent study by which he implied that 25% of people who use ‘skunk’ will become psychotic.
So I am left with very mixed feelings. The pre-publicity was a disgrace: inaccurate, misleading, unethical – words I have already published and I stand by them.
The brazen misuse of the terms ‘skunk’ and ‘hash’ is an appalling error of judgement by Channel 4, Renegade Pictures and yes, sadly, by two scientists for whom I have the greatest of respect: Professors Val Curran and David Nutt.
Why would you choose to use the same word as the gutter press chooses to demonise cannabis? ‘Skunk’ is a scary word and what it really means is a sativa dominant strain with a modest THC content of 8% and only traces of CBD.
As for hash, it also has a specific meaning: the compressed resin, derived from the plant by sieving or by hand rubbing. By definition a more concentrated form of cannabis, yet the programme claimed exactly the opposite.
A far better, more accurate, more scientific and informative shorthand would have been to describe the cannabis as low CBD, high CBD and placebo.
Surely, whether we agree or disagree with their evidence, we are entitled to expect precision and accuracy from scientists?
The fundamental problem with this programme was that there were no cannabis experts present, only detached academics and scientists or cannabis users who were hardly well informed or articulate. I did of course volunteer but for some reason the producers saw fit to exclude anyone from the cannabis campaign or anyone who has both in depth knowledge and real experience.
Unfortunately, this programme will go the same way as all those other earnest endeavours, ‘The Union’, ‘The Culture High’, ‘In Pot We Trust’, etc – all very enjoyable, self-affirming and satisfying but all preaching to the choir. I’ll be interested to see what the viewing figures were for last night’s programme.
The best bit was David Nutt’s final conclusion. On his scale of harms, even low CBD cannabis (the demon ‘SKUNK’) is less harmful than alcohol, heroin, crack, meth, cocaine, tobacco and speed. After the study he concludes that high CBD cannabis is the least harmful drug of all.