Is marijuana an effective treatment for spasticity disorders such as multiple sclerosis?
Movement Disorders stated in a Sep. 2004 article titled "Survey on Cannabis Use in Parkinson's Disease" by researchers from the Movement Disorders Centreat the Department of Neurology at Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic:
"An anonymous questionnaire sent to all patients attending the Prague Movement Disorder Centre revealed that 25% of 339 respondents had taken cannabis and 45.9% of these described some form of benefit....
The late onset of cannabis action is noteworthy. Because most patients reported that improvement occurred approximately two months after the first use of cannabis, it is very unlikely that it could be attributed to a placebo reaction."
The Journal of Cannabis Therapeutics (JCT) reported in a 2001 article by researchers at GW Pharmaceuticals:
"Some patients with multiple sclerosis who smoke cannabis [marijuana] report relief of spasm and pain after the second or third puff of a cannabis cigarette. This implies very rapid transit to, and absorption into the central nervous system. The time involved is seconds rather than minutes."
Americans For Safe Access (ASA), a patient advocacy non-profit group, stated in their booklet "Medical Marijuana and Multiple Sclerosis," available on their website (accessed on Dec. 20, 2005):
"Many MS patients report that cannabis has a startling and profound effect on muscle spasms, tremors, balance, bladder control, speech and eyesight. Many wheel-chair-bound patients report that they can walk unaided when they have smoked cannabis....
Numerous case studies, surveys and double-blind studies have reported improvement in patients treated with cannabinoids for symptoms including spasticity...
Cannabinoids have been shown in animal models to measurably lessen MS symptoms and may also halt the progression of the disease."
Britain's House of Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology, published a Nov. 1998 report titled "Cannabis: The Scientific and Medical Evidence," which stated:
"We have received enough anecdotal evidence to convince us that cannabis almost certainly does have genuine medical applications, especially in treating the painful muscular spasms and other symptoms of MS and in the control of other forms of pain...
We therefore recommend that the Government should take steps to transfer cannabis and cannabis resin from Schedule 1 of the Misuse of Drugs Regulations to Schedule 2, so as to allow doctors to prescribe an appropriate preparation of cannabis, albeit as an unlicensed medicine and on the named-patient basis, and to allow doctors and pharmacists to supply the drug prescribed."
Montel Williams, national talk show host and founder of the the Montel Williams MS Foundation, wrote the following in his 2004 book Climbing Higher:
"I spent 22 years in the service supporting, defending our Constitution of the United States, I fought in the war against drugs. I want to tell you right now in this country, we need to start thinking about compassion.
How dare someone tell me they can prescribe morphine, vicodin, percocet. Make the drugs most addictive, name the most addictive drug, they can give me and I can be a walking member of the society by taking that garbage, but my doctor, who has prescribed it for me, can’t prescribe medicinal marijuana? Why? Because we have an idea everybody who does it sits around smoking.
There are 50 different ways to utilize it. You can eat it; you can process it into a liquid; or you can turn it into a pill form. The willow tree was taken apart about 200 years ago and turned into aspirin. And we all take it."
The Mar. 1999 U.S. Institute of Medicine (IOM) Report stated on Page 161:
"The regular use of smoked marijuana would be contraindicated in a chronic condition like MS....
In general, the abundant anecdotal reports are not well supported by the clinical data... But this is due more to the limitation of the studies than to negative results....
Without an appropriate model, studies to determine the physiological basis for how marijuana or THC might relieve spasticity cannot be conducted. Nonetheless, the survey results suggest that it would be useful to investigate the potential therapeutic value of cannabinoids in relieving symptoms associated with MS."
The National Multiple Sclerosis Society (NMSS) stated on their website (accessed on Apr. 4, 2002):
"Some people with MS have claimed that smoking marijuana (cannabis) has reduced MS spasticity. Studies done so far, however, have not provided convincing evidence that marijuana benefits people with MS.
In another study smoking marijuana was shown to worsen control of posture and balance in 10 people with MS and 10 who did not have MS.
It is the opinion of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s Medical Advisory Board that marijuana is not recommended as a treatment for MS.
Long-term use of marijuana may be associated with significant serious side effects. In addition, other well-tested FDA-approved drugs are available, such as baclofen and tizanidine, to reduce spasticity in MS."
The Detroit Free Press published a Jan. 13, 2004 editorial by Kathleen Altman (Prevention Coordinator, Oakland County Health Division -Office of Substance Abuse Services), Dana Gire (Prevention Coordinator, Macomb County Office of Substance Abuse), Andre Johnson (Program Manager, Partnership for a Drug-Free Detroit) and Theresa Webster (Prevention Administrator, Southeast Michigan Community Alliance) which stated:
"Montel Williams'endorsement of so-called medical marijuana is disturbing when you consider the fact that less than a year ago he hosted a locally produced special and public service announcement about the dangers of crystal meth and other drugs.The well-funded drug-legalization movement, armed with advertising and public relations experts, continues to manipulate the media through a smoke screen of compassionate use for people with diseases such as MS, cancer and AIDS.
Scientific studies show the opposite to be true. Unfortunately, many people suffering with these illnesses are being unfairly used by groups whose real agenda is to legalize marijuana."