News Release

1001 Connecticut Ave, NW - Ste 710 - Washington, DC 20036
Tel. 202.483.8751 - Fax 202.483.0057 - E-mail - Internet

May 2, 2001

One in Two Doctors With Opinions Back Pot By Prescription, Poll Shows

        Los Angeles, CA:  Nearly half of U.S. physicians with opinions support legalizing marijuana as a medicine, according to the results of a national survey presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Addiction Medicine.  The survey, which polled 960 physicians, is the first such study conducted since state voters began approving laws in 1996 legalizing medical pot use.
     Researchers at Providence Rhode Island Hospital polled physicians in five specialties: addiction medicine-psychiatry, general psychiatry, obstetrics-gynecology, family practice and internal medicine.  Thirty-six percent of physicians affirmed that “Doctors should be able to legally prescribe marijuana as medical therapy.”  Thirty-eight percent of those polled disagreed, and 26 percent had no opinion.
     Researchers reported that doctors surveyed in specialties that frequently saw cancer patients supported prescribing medical marijuana in greater numbers than those who did not.
     NORML board-member Rick Doblin said that the results demonstrate there exists “a substantial number of patients whose physicians don’t think that they are getting the most appropriate medicine.”  However, he criticized the study’s small sample size and questioned the five specialties selected for the survey.  “Those chosen do not reflect the specialties that most frequently come in contact with medical marijuana patients,” he noted.  Doblin co-authored a survey of more than 1,000 clinical oncologists in 1990 that found 48 percent would prescribe marijuana to their patients if federal law permitted it.
     An additional survey conducted by the U.K. medical website Medix UK found that more than 80 percent of British doctors would prescribe marijuana to patients with cancer or multiple sclerosis if it was legal, Bloomberg news reported today.
     For more information, please contact Paul Armentano of The NORML Foundation at (202) 483-8751 or Rick Doblin, Executive Director of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), at (617) 484-9509.

Marijuana Spray Reduces MS Patients’ Pain, Spasms, Study Finds

        London, United Kingdom:  Marijuana extracts administered under the tongue greatly reduce pain, muscle spasms and bladder dysfunction in patients with multiple sclerosis, according to results of a Phase II study recently completed by GW Pharmaceuticals in England.
     Seventy subjects participated in the study. Patients consumed marijuana as a sublingual spray, which allows it to be absorbed rather than swallowed.  Patients began experiencing relief two to three minutes after administration, GW Pharmaceuticals spokesman Mark Rogerson said.
     “It makes the pain go away,” Rogerson told Bloomberg news.  “It also helps multiple sclerosis patients control their limbs and get a good night’s sleep” because they can control their bladders. Patients’ neurological function was also improved by medical marijuana, he said.
     The company announced that it expects to begin Phase III trials shortly, and will also be commencing preliminary trials in Canada.
     A 1999 study by the U.S. Institute of Medicine reported: “Basic animal studies … have shown that cannabinoid receptors are particularly abundant in areas of the brain that control movement and that cannabinoids affect movement and posture in animals as well as humans.  The observations are consistent with the possibility that cannabinoids have antispastic effects … and carefully designed clinical trials testing the effects of cannabinoids on muscle spasticity should be considered.”
     GW Pharmaceuticals has been growing medical marijuana for research purposes in cooperation with British Home Office authorities since 1997, and hopes to bring a medical-marijuana spray to market by 2003.
     For more information, please contact Paul Armentano of The NORML Foundation at (202) 483-8751.

Nursing Association Journal Backs Access to Medical Marijuana

        New York, NY:  Marijuana is a safe and effective medication and nurses should support legal access to it, asserts a commentary in the April issue of the American Journal of Nursing, the official journal of the American Nursing Association (ANA).
     “Patients need professional guidance about the safe administration of cannabis, and they need access to a legal and unadulterated supply,” concludes the article, entitled “Therapeutic Cannabis: A patient advocacy issue.”  An estimated 2.5 million nurses nationwide receive the publication.
     “If you were to listen to patients’ reports of the benefits of cannabis or observe patients’ responses to it, you would see its therapeutic value,” author and registered nurse Mary Lynn Mathre writes.  “If you were to review the drug’s history, you’d see that it is widely used therapeutically throughout the world and that it has been banned in the United States for political, not medical, reasons.  If you were to review the current literature about its safety and potential health benefits, you’d see that there’s no basis for the continued prohibition of this treatment.”
     In recent years, the nursing community has become more outspoken in its support for medical marijuana-law reform.  Since 1994, the state nursing associations of Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Mississippi, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Virginia and Wisconsin have all passed resolutions in support of legalizing patient access to medical marijuana.
     For more information, please contact R. Keith Stroup, NORML Executive Director, at (202) 483-5500.

- End -