How Medical Marijuana Helps AIDS Patients

Dr. Donald Abrams Tells Us How Medical Marijuana Helps AIDS Patients

Transcript: So we did that study, and we showed that there was no damage to the level of the aids drug in the blood stream to the patients immune system or to the level of the virus in their blood stream over 21 days of smoking a government cigarette 3 times a day and that led us then to move on and do other research looking to see if whether or not cannabis had any medicinal benefit for patients with HIV. Particularly we were fortunate in California when we had a budget surplus that one of our state senators established a center for medicinal cannabis research at the University of California. And that center worked out a deal with NIDA so that NIDA the only legal source of marijuana for research in the country would supply investigators who had been favorably peer reviewed by the University of California Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research to do clinical trials looking at the effectiveness of smoked marijuana.

So I submitted a study to look at marijuana in patients with the painful HIV related peripheral neuropathy, which is the damage to the nerves in the hands and feet for which we really didn’t have any treatment. Opioid analgesics don’t work well. We tried acupuncture. Most people use anti seizure medications. And these also could interact with the levels of the aids drugs. So we proposed a study to see if smoked cannabis could alleviate the pain of this peripheral neuropathy and ultimately we wound up doing a placebo-controlled trial where 25 patients smoked real cannabis from the government and 25 smoked cannabis that had the active ingredient had been extracted. We showed the group that smoking the real cannabis had a decrease not only in their peripheral neuropathy pain in an experimental pain that we created in the patients by heating their skin to 104 degrees and then applying caparison cream on top of their skin.

So that study funded by the Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research actually was the one of the first modern studies to be done that showed in a randomized placebo control fashion that cannabis does have a medicinal use and that is for treatment of HIV related peripheral neuropathy. And when we looked at our results the effectiveness of cannabis in that situation is comparable to the effectiveness of the drug that is most commonly used the anti seizure medications. Now do I think the government will change cannabis schedule 1 classification which means it has no accepted medical use, on the basis of a study of 25 patients smoking cannabis and 25 smoking placebo. No, I think I have been around long enough to know that’s not gonna do it.

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