Cannabis Study Proposals Approved

The UCSD-based Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research announced the approval of its first proposals for the study of cannabis as a treatment for specific medical conditions.

The studies selected include an inpatient study on the effects of smoking marijuana to alleviate peripheral nerve pain associated with HIV infection; an outpatient study of the effects and safety of smoked marijuana versus a placebo for the treatment of muscle spasms, loss of function, and related pain in patients with multiple sclerosis; and an outpatient study on the acute and long-term effects of repeated administration of medical cannabis on driving ability.

CMCR Director Igor Grant described the process by which 13 proposals were narrowed to four.

“”We have followed a careful process of protocol review, engaging senior scientists from around the country on our scientific review board to evaluate proposals and recommend funding for those that meet our high scientific standards, within the strict procedures established by Health and Human Services, the DEA and the FDA,”” Grant said.

The CMCR is a state-funded collaboration between UCSD and UCSF. It was established last year as a result of a bill sponsored by state Sen. John Vasconcellos, D-Santa Clara, and signed into law by Gov. Gray Davis in October 1999. The law provided for $3 million in state funds for the center. Additional federal funding may come later.

California voters approved the use of medical marijuana in 1996, but the guidelines for administering cannabis are ambiguous. Vasconcellos’ legislation called for a three-year program of high-quality medical research.

“”These approved studies will begin to gather evidence to determine whether or not marijuana is effective as a medical treatment for certain conditions,”” Vasconcellos said.

It is anticipated that additional studies will be reviewed and approved to begin in late spring 2001.