February 11th, 2011 By: Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director
Earlier this week Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske sat down for a face-to-face interview with The Daily Caller’s Mike Riggs. (Riggs is the Daily Callerreporter who yesterday broke thestory regarding the DEA’s plans toreschedule plant-derived THC while keeping the actual plant illegal.)
Riggs asked the Czar some tough questions, including this one specific to medical cannabis: “You’ve said before that you don’t see medical benefits to smoked marijuana and also that the jury is still out on medical marijuana. What sort of scientific consensus does the ONDCP require? How many studies have to come out arguing for medical benefits? What do you need to see?”
The Czar’s reply? “[Y]ou know there are over 100 groups doing marijuana research, and they’re getting their marijuana from the University of Mississippi. There are several things in clinical trials right now. So we’ll just have to wait for those.”
To which I reply ‘Bulls–t!’
As I write today on Alternet.org, a review of the U.S. National Institutes of Health website clinicaltrials.gov shows that there are presently only six FDA-approved trials taking place anywhere in the world involving subjects’ use of actual cannabis. Of these, two are completed, one is assessing the plant’s pharmacokinetics, and one is assessing pot’s alleged harms.
Memo to the Drug Czar: That leaves a grand total of — not “over 100″ — but rather just two ongoing clinical trials to assess the medical efficacy of cannabis. You sir, are a liar (but then again, I suppose we all knew that already).
[excerpt] A review of the U.S. National Institutes of Health website clinicaltrials.gov shows that NIDA’s kibosh on medical marijuana trials continues unabated. Though a search of ongoing FDA-approved clinical trials using the keyword ‘cannabinoids’ (the active components in marijuana) yields 65 worldwide hits, only six involve subjects’ use of actual cannabis. (The others involve the use of synthetic cannabinoid agonists like dronabinol or nabilone, the commercially marketed marijuana extract Sativex, or the cannabinoid receptor blocking agent Rimonabant.)
Of the six, two of the studies are already completed: ‘Opioid and Cannabinoid Pharmacokinetic Interactions‘ and ‘Vaporization as a Smokeless Cannabis Delivery System,’ both of which were spearheaded by researchers (primarily Dr. Donald Abrams) at the University of California at San Francisco.
The four remaining studies are still in the ‘recruitment’ phase. Of these, only two pertain to the potential medical use of cannabis: ‘Cannabis for Spasticity of Multiple Sclerosis,’ which is taking place at the University of California at Davis and is likely the final clinical trial associated with the soon-to-be-defunct/defunded California Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research, and ‘Cannabis for Inflammatory Bowel Disease,’ led by researchers at the Meir Medical Center in Israel.
Of the remaining studies, one focuses on the detection of cannabinoids and their metabolites on drug screens, while the other, entitled ‘Effects of Smoked Marijuana on Risk Taking and Decision Making Tasks,’ seeks to establish pot-related harms — hypothesizing that subjects “demonstrate poorer decision-making abilities and increased risk-taking behaviors” after smoking marijuana.
You can read the full text of my Alternet.org story here.
You can read the full interview with Drug Czar Kerlikowske here.