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Medical Marijuana Trials Encouraging

Patients don't have to get high to get better

(HealthDay) -- Trials of a medicinal form of marijuana show that patients don't have to get high to benefit from the drug's therapeutic effects, researchers say.

According to an article from the BBC, the studies also show that the drug isn't doing any harm to the patients. A company called GW Pharmaceuticals is growing thousands of cannabis plants under a government license in the United Kingdom. The company plans to develop prescription medicines with extracts from the plants.

Evidence from other studies has shown that those extracts might benefit people who suffer from multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury, arthritis, chronic fatigue syndrome and other medical problems.

The initial trials are being done on a small number of healthy volunteers. They were given cannabis extracts either from an inhaler or in liquid form. Heart rate, temperature and respiration were monitored. Blood samples were taken for analysis as well. Volunteers also went through psychological tests. No dangerous side effects were detected. Larger trials on people who are suffering from various diseases are planned. Complete results will not be made public until they are disclosed in a scientific journal, the company says.

If all continues to go well, the second phase of trials will begin next year and will include up to 300 patients with MS, spinal cord injury and phantom limb pain, the article says. By the end of the study, more than 2,000 patients will have taken part. Company officials say they hope the main studies will be done in 2002.

To find out why Kaiser Permanente lawyers have given doctors from their health plan the OK to endorse the use of marijuana for some patients, you can read this article from MSNBC.

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