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Despite Political Obstacles, Medical Marijuana Has Been Studied

Political opponents of allowing the use of marijuana as a medicine routinely say that there is no scientific basis for claims that the drug is useful. For instance, U.S. drug czar Barry McCaffrey has said, "There is not a shred of scientific evidence that smoked marijuana is useful or needed."

This website's compilation of scientific research and informed commentary shows otherwise. And it is only a part of the scientific record. Nothing on this website is more than 20 years old, and much of it is far more recent. Were anyone to try to encapsulate the long history of marijuana's use as a therapeutic agent, both in the United States and worldwide, such a compilation would be many times larger. That history literally goes back thousands of years.

Medical marijuana research is something of a "forgotten history" in the United States. This site illustrates the fact that much promising research was once conducted on marijuana, only to be shut off by a political climate of intolerance toward marijuana use for any purposes.

Today, just as more state laws are being passed to allow medical use of marijuana, new evidence is emerging on the potential benefits of the chemicals unique to marijuana, a class of compounds called cannabinoids. These chemicals, which include THC and several other compounds, show new promise for reducing neuropathic pain, for protecting the brain from the effects of strokes, and in helping AIDS patients to stick with their multiple-drug regimens. And despite the availability of new anti-nausea medications, cancer patients continue to opt for smoking marijuana as a more effective alternative. In short, marijuana has not dropped out of therapeutic use; in fact, its medical use may be growing.

Despite this site's focus on science, we recognize that politics and science will probably never be fully separated in the medical marijuana debate. However, just as a negative climate once reduced scientific studies on marijuana's potential, it is hoped that, soon, a more politically open climate can encourage more good science to be conducted. Doctors and patients can only benefit from new and better information. And a reliable science base is understood by most to be necessary for marijuana to eventually be made legal for medical purposes nationwide. If renewed interest in doing the necessary research could be one result from patients asserting their rights to use marijuana without criminal penalty, and of voters' endorsing that right, so much the better for all concerned.

Americans for Medical Rights