July 9, 1998
Marijuana Appears To Protect Against Brain
July 9, 1998, Washington, D.C.:
Research published in this week's Proceedings of the National Academy of
Sciences demonstrates that naturally occurring compounds in marijuana may protect
brain cells during a stroke.
Researchers at the National Institute for Mental Health found that THC, the chief psychoactive compound in marijuana, and cannabidiol (CBD), a nonpsychoactive component that previously showed promise as an anti-convulsant, both appear to be potent antioxidants in laboratory studies. Doctors rely on antioxidants to protect stroke victims from exposure to toxic levels of a brain chemical called glutamate. Head trauma and strokes cause the release of excessive glutamate, often resulting in irreversible damage to brain cells.
Scientists asserted that CBD could hold advantages over other antioxidants because the compound is fast acting and nontoxic. "We have something that passes the brain barrier easily, has low toxicity, and appears to be working in animal trials," lead researcher Aidan Hampson said. "I think we have a good chance" to help patients with this compound.
The U.S. study follows earlier research conducted in Israel demonstrating that Dexanabinol -- a synthetic analog derived from marijuana -- protects healthy brain cells against glutamate. Israeli researchers declared this May that the drug will undergo Phase III human trials shortly. They hope to begin marketing the drug by the year 2000.
Allen St. Pierre, Executive Director of The NORML Foundation, said that the new research strengthens the need for medical marijuana reform. "This research highlights the therapeutic value of compounds in marijuana besides THC," he said. "Patients find maximum relief from whole smoked marijuana because the plant contains several therapeutic properties unavailable elsewhere. Federal law must change to allow patients access to these naturally occurring compounds."
Federal law currently prohibits the medical use of marijuana and all the plant's active compounds other than synthetic THC.
Harvard Medical School professor Lester Grinspoon said this research represented the "tip of the iceberg" as far as the medical potential of the marijuana plant. "When science gets serious about investigating cannabis as a medicine, we will discover many more such findings," he said. Grinspoon also stressed that the scientific community has come full circle regarding marijuana's effects on the brain.
"The debate has moved from alleging that marijuana destroys brain cells to finding that cannabis is clearly neuropathic," he said.
The findings indicate that marijuana may also hold medical value in the treatment of brain diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, the team of U.S. scientists said.
For more information, please contact either Allen St. Pierre or Paul Armentano of The NORML Foundation @ (202) 483-8751. Dr. Lester Grinspoon may be reached @ (617) 277-3621.
Hemp Could Be Lucrative Cash Crop For State, University Of Kentucky Report Says
July 9, 1998, Louisville, KY:
Hemp would rank second only to tobacco products as a cash crop for Kentucky
farmers, concluded a $23,000 study conducted by Center for Business and Economy Research
at the University of Kentucky. The 18-month study also determined that present
market demand for the crop could support the cultivation of 82,000 acres in the United
"We believe the UK study is a landmark, watershed event," said John Gilderbloom, a University of Louisville economics professor who wrote a forward endorsing the study. "This is the premiere study done on the impact of hemp."
Gilderbloom said the environmental advantages of hemp, coupled with the crop's economic potential, give the plant an edge over other possible alternatives to tobacco. "The UK report could provide the spark for a serious review and evaluation of the benefits of industrial hemp for the state of Kentucky and the United States," he concluded.
At least 29 nations -- including Canada, France, England, Germany, Japan, and Australia -- allow farmers to cultivate hemp for industrial purposes. The report found that farmers in the European Union grew over 50,000 acres of hemp in 1997 alone. U.S. law forbids the cultivation of
hemp because the plant is of the same species as marijuana.
Authors of the study, entitled "Economic Impact of Industrial Hemp in Kentucky," argued that climate and soil conditions make Kentucky "the primary area in North America for growing industrial hemp." They estimated that legalizing the crop could lead to hundreds of full-time jobs and millions of dollars in workers earnings for the state.
This study is "the knockout punch for opponents to hemp, including the nation's Drug Czar [Barry McCaffrey,]" Gilderbloom announced.
For more information, please contact either Paul Armentano or Allen St. Pierre of The NORML Foundation @ (202) 483-8751. Copies of the study are available online at: http://www.hempgrowers.com. University of Kentucky's Center for Business and Economic Research may be contacted @ (606) 257-7675.
Medical Marijuana Proposals Await November Ballots In Several States
July 9, 1998, Washington, D.C.:
Petitioners hoping to place medical marijuana proposals on the November ballots in
Colorado, Oregon, and Washington state turned in signatures to their respective Secretary
of State offices this week. In all cases, the number of signatures far exceeded the
state's requirement to place an initiative on the ballot.
"These signatures represent thousands of citizens who care about relieving the suffering of patients with terminal or debilitating illnesses such as cancer and AIDS," said Dr. Rob Killian of Washington Citizens for Medical Rights. The group collected over 230,000 signatures in support of their medical marijuana measure.
Proposals in all three states seek to exempt seriously ill patients from state criminal marijuana charges if they use the drug medicinally under a physician's supervision.
Medical marijuana petitioners in Nevada are also awaiting validation from the Secretary of State's office to determine whether they turned in the required number of valid signatures last month to certify their initiative. In addition, spokesmen from Washington D.C.'s ACT-UP announced they acquired enough signatures to place their proposal on the upcoming ballot..
A similar initiative filed in Alaska has already qualified for this year's fall ballot.
"This will be an unprecedented opportunity for voters across the nation to voice their direct support for a seriously ill patient's right to use marijuana medicinally," NORML Executive Director R. Keith Stroup, Esq. said.
For more information, please contact either Keith Stroup of NORML @ (202) 483-5500 or Dave Fratello of Americans for Medical Rights @ (310) 394-2952. Washington Citizens for Medical Rights may be contacted @ (206) 781-7716.
A COMPREHENIVE LOOK AT MARIJUANA'S MEDICAL HISTORY AND POTENTIAL AS AN ANALGESIC APPEARS IN THIS MONTH'S ISSUE OF THE INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR THE STUDY OF PAIN. THE AUTHOR, DR. ETHAN RUSSO OF THE WESTERN MONTANA CLINIC, HAS SOUGHT FEDERAL APPROVAL FOR OVER ONE YEAR TO CONDUCT CLINICAL TRIALS ON THE EFFECTS OF WHOLE SMOKED MARIJUANA AND MIGRAINE.