Federal agency proclaims medical use for marijuana

Thursday, March 24, 2011 at 4:08 pm

As federal battles over medical marijuana across the country heat up, a statement from one federal agency may be a huge asset for medical marijuana dispensaries that have been targeted by the various arms of the U.S. Department of Justice and the IRS.

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) is a division of the National Institutes of Health, which is itself one of the 11 component agencies that make up the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Last week, the NCI quietly added to its treatment database a summary of marijuana’s medicinal benefits, including an acknowledgment that oncologists may recommend it to patients for medicinal use.

The summary cites clinical trials demonstrating the benefit of medical marijuana. Part of it reads:

The potential benefits of medicinal Cannabis for people living with cancer include antiemetic effects, appetite stimulation, pain relief, and improved sleep. In the practice of integrative oncology, the health care provider may recommend medicinal Cannabis not only for symptom management but also for its possible direct antitumor effect.

Although 34 states have passed laws recognizing marijuana’s medicinal properties and 15 states, plus Washington, D.C., have legalized it for medical use, this is the first time a federal agency has recognized it as medicine. Despite recent developments, Attorney General Eric Holder said in 2009 that the Justice Department would not raid medical marijuana facilities, but at no point did he acknowledge their legitimacy as distribution centers for medicine. A 2001 Supreme Court ruling, meanwhile, declared that medical use of marijuana cannot be considered in any federal court deliberating on a marijuana possession or distribution case.

The new NCI assessment could have an impact on the classification of marijuana as a Schedule I drug, the harshest possible drug classification, which has resulted in a prison population in which 1 in 8 prisoners in the U.S. is locked up for a marijuana-related offense. One of the principal criteria for a Schedule I determination is that there be “no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.” The U.S. Justice Department may have a hard time maintaining that claim if challenged, considering a federal agency now recognizes marijuana’s medical use in cancer treatment.

From the other side of the argument comes a new white paper (PDF) from the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) censuring the prescription of marijuana by doctors in states where its medical use is legal. The ASAM takes issue with the fact that marijuana is not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and therefore not subject to the same standards as other medicines. The white paper also cites as a health risk the fact that the most common method of using marijuana is smoking it.

Allen St. Pierre, executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, believes that the ASAM paper is a direct response to the new NCI evaluation and that ASAM physicians have a vested interest in keeping marijuana illegal in all cases.

“These doctors are making a fortune off of marijuana prohibition,” he says. “They have a financial, proprietary interest to maintain the status quo.”

St. Pierre argues that addiction specialists would be losing a major revenue source if marijuana were legalized, decriminalized or simply recognized as medicine in federal court. Without the massive number of arrests and convictions based on marijuana-related offenses, there would be a sharp drop in the number of patients referred to a doctor for marijuana addiction counseling by judges.

“The NCI statement? Fascinating. The ASAM reply? Pathetic. And predictable,” says St. Pierre.

Dr. Andrea Barthwell, former president of ASAM, claimed in an ASAM press release that the white paper had its origins in a concern for doctor liability and responsibility.

“Allowing cannabis to circumvent FDA approval sets a dangerous precedent and puts us on a slippery slope,” she said.



Comment posted March 24, 2011 @ 11:46 pm

The NCI statement shows that not all scientist/reseachers are reliable drones for the drug war.

Comment posted March 25, 2011 @ 1:52 am

People need to be educated about the new DOJ Memo that say ALL Medical Marijuana Dispensaries and Growers are a illegal and will be busted. The Memo is known as the Haag Memo and backtracks and/or claims the DOJ never said claimed it would not go after anyone but the individual patient and I’d bet even they are not safe

Comment posted March 25, 2011 @ 4:44 am

Regulating dosages and safety and using non-smoking methods of ingesting the medication all sound like good moves to me…

Comment posted March 25, 2011 @ 6:38 am

It’s a plant folks! As a dear friend of mine says, are you going to come to my backyard and regulate the tomatos and zucchini growing there as well? For my cancer and hospice patients, its a god send. How many have a medicinal MJ card? Less than 1%. Let’s call this out on the table – we’re really fighting against big Pharma here folks as well as total control by the state.

Comment posted March 25, 2011 @ 4:47 pm

The haag memo is a joke! I’m sure that the specific dispensaries were not following state rules and therefore were dealt with. Some cities don’t want dispensaries although their specfic state allows medical marijuana and that’s cool too, but I think as long as you’re dispensary is following all of the state guidlines you will not be prosecuted!

Comment posted March 25, 2011 @ 5:03 pm

yay for real science!

Paul von Hartmann
Comment posted March 25, 2011 @ 6:51 pm

Cannabis isn’t illegal, it’s unique and essential.

Paul von Hartmann
Comment posted March 25, 2011 @ 7:13 pm

“Essential civilian demand” for a “strategic resource” “of first necessity to the wealth and protection of our country.”

What gives anyone the right to deny the freedom to farm “every herb bearing seed” under protection of the First Amendment?

Comment posted March 25, 2011 @ 8:34 pm

It seems at one time.. and even still today some people are recieving cans of marijuana from the Federal Government and delivered right to their homes.. its a shame that the will of the voters in this issue is not taken seriously. but there are allot of monies behind cannabis.. Not just for the counties of the States that are still raiding those whom are selling cannabis over the counter and having the citizens whom benifit from it pay the monies in order to receive it.. its not just the doctors that some are benifiting from it.. really.. any doctor charges for office visits the same.. other than for cannbis.. I am a person that is mostly homebound due to my ailments of MS.. and i have personally benifited from the use of cannbis for years.. but i also am in a catch 22.. not just with the laws of my state, but the law enfocement and our counties whom refuse to allow safe access to those whom are unable to grow for themselves and they are recommended by (not) real doctors whom know that they will benifit from the use of cannbis.. . Our State laws superseed Federal laws when in conflict.. but these days.. we are govern by our police and the DA.. and if they don’t like the laws put forth.. they will not abide by it at all for pesonal agenda.. that is how i see it.. its bad enough the programs for the sick and terminally ill and the seniors are being cut., and our educational program for our children are being cut.. and then we are loosing our jobs, and our homes and putting more citizens out on the streets.. while our board of supervisors and despensary store front agencies, doctors, political afficials are living high on the hog off o the sweet of their sick and dying citizens behind cannabis.. I am not afraid to speak my mind.. but our government afficials. all of them need to put their citizens first. but instead we are putting our citizens in other countries and taking care of their people when we can not even take care of our own..people.. The disabled can not even get good health care, and the seniors care is almost nothing to say the least.. The society of living is getting so high , you can’t rent an one bedroom apartment for less than 6/800 month.. its terrible.. and then you waste all that energy because people choose to utalize cannabis.. it doesn’t matter .. this society , our government , and our citizens are living in a time where there is no compassion .. I say.. enough already.. allow the store frons, to continue providing safe access to those whom have a recomended rec from their doctors, and leave them alone.. take the taxes and put it toward what ever is needed.. stop.. now.. Drugs are here. there is no such thing as a drug free envioroment.. Booze is legal , and it kills people, tobacco is leagal , and it kills people.. people kill people.. this world if filled with laws for one thing our anther.. and drug pushers from many pharmacy companies that go from one doctor to another .. what is the diffrence between them and the people whom deliver cannabis or provide cannabis.. to me.. not one bit of diffrence.. Our federal Angencies, our State Agencies, big corporations, others need to stop being go greedy with they pay check stubs , while the rest of us are suffering to make ends meet.. you think it is fun for me to not be able to make one dime over what i recieve and be homebound on a daily basis due to my ailments.. no.. its not., i am not allow to invest, or have death benifits, or make over a certian amount other than what i recieve.. my husband can not even work due to threats of taking my medical away… i am mean spirited due to not having a liffe..and living in fear due to my use of cannabis.. is not fun either.. i beg our government afficials. to find a peaceful soulution.. Give me that ID stamp of aproval for cannabis like the Federal do with the others.. i woun’t mind..
Tired of living in a negitive, greedy world… i may be sick.. but i still have a voice… and no one can take that away.. not even my husband.. hahahah..

From a voter and a born citizen in USA.. and a cannabis benificial user.. for medical purposes only!!!!..

Comment posted March 25, 2011 @ 10:12 pm

Aloha Kyle, thank you for your article

United States Patent
Hampson ,   et al.
October 7, 2003

Cannabinoids as antioxidants and neuroprotectants

Cannabinoids have been found to have antioxidant properties, unrelated to NMDA receptor antagonism. This new found property makes cannabinoids useful in the treatment and prophylaxis of wide variety of oxidation associated diseases, such as ischemic, age-related, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. The cannabinoids are found to have particular application as neuroprotectants, for example in limiting neurological damage following ischemic insults, such as stroke and trauma, or in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and HIV dementia.

This is the opening of the US Dept of Health and Human Services “patent” on Cannabinoids, now held since 2003.
Please repost, and do what you can to restore justice in this case of ‘bio-piracy’
“God this is great, show me the blessings in this situation, and hurry,
we are safe, we are loved, and all is well.
(OK, some things can use some work) ” – Rev. Roger Christie,

Rev. Kristopher Johnson

Comment posted March 26, 2011 @ 10:32 am

Right – they are not being prosecuted. The gubmint agents are simply busting the dispensaries, taking all the money and marijuana, and not filing charges. That way, thay don’t lose in court, and their take is larger than if they busted individuals.
Kinda like harvesting or fundraising for the gubmint, and they could not do it if it was legal.

Comment posted March 26, 2011 @ 10:41 am

Sounds good, but …
How does one regulate dosages when one person’s tolerance can be so different from another’s?

Yogi Berra: “In theory, practice and theory are the same. In practice, theory and practice are different.”

Comment posted March 27, 2011 @ 3:43 pm

i thinks republicans everywhere should stand up and denounce the federal governments interdiction in the personal lives of “free” american tax payers.

Comment posted March 27, 2011 @ 7:16 pm

Now it is appearing to be Much on the Market – if Legally will be possible to expose it for sale – every child will have it in pocket — NOT SO GOOD IDEA !!!

Comment posted March 27, 2011 @ 7:20 pm

Your story is a heart-breaker and I know there are thousands of other people who are going through similar situations.

We live in a cold and cruel world, run by cold and cruel people – politicians. And, this latest bunch of criminals (politicians) are the worst I’ve seen. I knew what they were planning shortly after the 2008 election of Obama – who also was a major disappointment to the millions of people who trusted him to bring real change to this country.

But, I have a feeling that by 2012 the American people are going to be so fed up with this current group of bastards (Republicans) that there is going to be a huge backlash. The pity is, this current bunch have only just begun. If they succeed with their plans, you won’t recognize this country by 2012. But, hopefully, because of the current protests and the threat of re-call elections in the offing, maybe they will back off a bit.

However, the propaganda machine in this country is run by unscrupulous bastards hell bent on winning no matter the harm they do to U.S. citizens and will say anything just to get elected.

I think the British form of government is better than ours in that they can call for new elections at anytime with a vote of “no confidence” if their elected officials fall in disfavor – as they have in this country. But, we don’t have that form of government and they use it to “work the system” to their advantage.

Over the last 30 years, I’ve seen this country become more and more cynical and mean spirited. I just wonder where this is really going to lead us.

Comment posted March 27, 2011 @ 7:36 pm

Your picture of a politician yelling, “Sacrifice, Sacrifice, Sacrifice”, looks a lot like Newt Gingrich. Are you trying to send us a warning of some sort?

Comment posted March 27, 2011 @ 7:40 pm

That sounds like a “Yogism”. It also sound like our politicians but, they have a real mean streak in what they say, as opposed to Yogi, who is just being…Yogi.

Martin Forde
Comment posted March 27, 2011 @ 11:36 pm

actually, every state and country which has either decriminalize or legalized (be it recreation or medicinal) use has seen substantial decreases in use rates across all age groups.

Comment posted March 28, 2011 @ 9:40 am

I really appreciate your post and you explain each and every point very well.Thanks for sharing this information.And I’ll love to read your next post too.


Federal agency recognizes pot for medical use
Pingback posted March 28, 2011 @ 11:24 am

[...] will be allowed for businesses "trafficking in controlled substances". From the Washington Independent: The new NCI assessment could have an impact on the classification of marijuana as a Schedule I [...]

Comment posted March 28, 2011 @ 11:38 pm

I really hope that someone will take this issue to the US Supreme Court and have them (hopefully) toss out the lie that marijuana is of no use. Just about anything can be potentially addictive. MJ is a lot safer than most pharmaceuticals and alcohol. No one has ever died from a MJ overdose!

Comment posted March 29, 2011 @ 4:32 am

Here! Here! I’m on board. How bout a Pot Initiative in every state 2012. Talk about a ‘youth vote’ getter, humm?

I do agree with the opposition’s (AMAS) FDA issue. Weed’s potency is all over the place, it is still a plant. A standardization of potency would also force realignment in the actual pricing.

I just can’t get my head around or ever accept $650 an oz? This isn’t gold; it’s a natural weed after all. It’s easier to grow Oregano, for god’s sakes.
So, I also don’t feel much empathy or sympathy for these, doing rather well, “distribution centers’ owners. Business is business and it seems greed just can’t stay away.

Marijuana should not be deemed as something special, only as just another commodity. Like grapes & alcohol proofs. And like grapes, there is a darker side to it, but if we can accept one I think we’re strong enough to deal with the other.

At the last revolution in the 60 & 70’s, we almost pull it off, just not enough of us at the time. So we settled with Civil Rights & Ending a War, etc.

But! This time? Hey, Why Not? Every good idea has it’s day, and a better day is a come’n!

Comment posted March 29, 2011 @ 6:23 am

i don’t see every child walking around with a cigarette or alcohol..

Comment posted March 29, 2011 @ 5:10 pm

I have a morphine prescription for nerve pain due to a spinal cord injury. Morphine makes me vomit. A friend gave me some marijuana to try and see if it helps. I tried it in April of 2010. It worked so well that I stopped taking morphine that same day and haven’t used it since. I cannot afford a medical card and couldn’t get Kaiser my health care group to get me a card or prescription for marijuana. I tried to get Kaiser to keep me legal but they cannot help me although the doctors understand my dilemma. I asked them to monitor my health knowing I smoke marijuana. I have a choice to keep taking morphine which is highly addictive and makes me throw up. The other choice is to break the law and risk arrest to me and the people who give me the marijuana. I cannot afford it so friends give it to me to help me. I hate the thought that they could get in trouble helping me and I hate the thought of breaking the law. I break the law not because I want to but because the law is bad. It is a law that hurts me and causes me pain. Please people out there make marijuana cheap, and legal.

Comment posted March 29, 2011 @ 9:09 pm

Black market or unlegal drugs are easy for children to get now.But making it legal will add control to it same a alcohol.

Comment posted March 29, 2011 @ 10:01 pm

Compared to what? Alcohol,Vicodien,Oxy’s,and least we forget heroin? At least marijuana has never killed anyone.

Comment posted March 30, 2011 @ 6:35 am

Here is a whole new story since this was posted: They have since removed the reference to anti-tumor effects.

Per the original statement:

“The potential benefits of medicinal Cannabis for people living with cancer include antiemetic effects, appetite stimulation, pain relief, and improved sleep. In the practice of integrative oncology, the health care provider may recommend medicinal Cannabis not only for symptom management but also for its possible direct antitumor effect.”

The latter part of that claim has since been quietly removed.

I hope someone will pursue the question as to why? Who made them retract it?

Comment posted March 30, 2011 @ 11:04 am

i first began working with substance abusers in the late 60s. i quickly learned that some of the so called dangerous drugs were fairly benign, including marijuana. over the years i read a lot of research about the various curative effects of mj, including some anticancer properties. it is an interesting substance. i was mightily impressed with the quality of the responses to this article. most were quite thoughful.

National Cancer Institute recognizes the medical benefits of marijuana –
Pingback posted March 31, 2011 @ 12:51 am

[...] More:  Washington Independent Tags: benefits, cancer, institute, marijuana, medical, national, [...]

Comment posted March 31, 2011 @ 1:46 pm

The “corrections” to the NCI’s original statement that cannabis has “direct antitumoral effects” say that no tests have been perfotmed on human patients. This is contradicted by the following scientific research article published in the Journal of Clinical Investiagtion:

“Cannabinoid action induces autophagy-mediated cell death through stimulation of ER stress in human glioma cells”

The investigators that participated in the study include Harvard’s Medical School.

In summary the study demonstrates that injections of THC (the active compound found in cannabis) directly into a variety of human tumors caused the reduction of such tumors within a relatively short period of time. The study demonstrates that the THC reduced the tumor’s size and that this took place both in mice and in two HUMAN patients wih INOPERABLE GLIOMA tumors. Hence THC’s “direct antiumor effects” (as originally stated by the National Cancer Institute) ARE supported by studies in humans and ARE VALID claims.

Here is an excerpt from the research article:

“Finally, we analyzed the tumors of 2 patients enrolled in a clinical trial aimed at investigating the effect of THC on recurrent glioblastoma multiforme. The patients were subjected to intracranial THC administration, and biopsies were taken before and after the treatment ( 11). In the 2 patients cannabinoid inoculation increased TRB3 immunostaining and decreased S6 phosphorylation (Figure 8 A). Interestingly, the number of cells with autophagic phenotype (Figure 8 B) as well as with active caspase-3 mmunostaining (Figure 8 C) was increased in the tumor samples obtained after THC treatment. Although these studies were only conducted in specimens from 2 patients, they are in line with the preclinical evidence shown above and suggest that cannabinoid administration might also trigger autophagy-mediated cell death in human tumors.”

Naturally a full scale clinical trial is still to be performed; however the argument that none have been conducted in humans is quite simply erroneous.

The Federal agencies cannot deny the existence of this data any longer. On the other hand, if they choose to deny the validity of it, they must provide newer and more updated research that proves the opposite. In the scientific world, this means that they have to repeat the same experiment and show opposite results.

…Otherwise it means that the National Cancer Institute’s original statement was correct and that…. we have the cure for cancer….

Comment posted April 1, 2011 @ 9:42 pm

Medical quality marijuana is not easier to grow than oregano.

Comment posted April 1, 2011 @ 10:42 pm

Maybe you missed my undercurrent. Medical go to a doctor, the rest of us can do just fine with that weaker stuff. But way back when, we planted the shake from some Oxacan seeds from a oz, Damn that was potent, even the med stuff isn’t close. So, yeah it is easier & sometimes better. If we fix this then you’ll know too.

Politics v. Science: Understanding Cannabis Therapeutics Before it is Censored | Robert Lamberton's Holistic Health Resource
Pingback posted April 3, 2011 @ 9:06 am

[...] to the Washington Independent, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) changed its website on March 17th and for the first time [...]

Politics v. Science: Understanding Cannabis Therapeutics Before it is Censored /  We know and will tell you all what really happened today
Pingback posted April 3, 2011 @ 12:00 pm

[...] to the Washington Independent, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) changed its website on March 17th and for the first time [...]

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Comment posted April 8, 2011 @ 4:56 pm

So this means every child is walking around with pocket full of oxycotton then right. BS its up to the parents to keep the children away from drugs not the children they are too unexperienced and immature, the only way my child would get marijuana is if he/she needed it for medicinal purposes which they don’t so Im not worried about that. If marijuana was needed for my child I would ask the doctor for an alternative to smoking it like a thc pill or something similar, also just to let you know I would much rather my child have natural medicine from a plant, then some oxys that are bad for your liver, and are extremely addictive.

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Comment posted April 11, 2011 @ 7:34 pm

So, whose job is it to request removal of MJ as a schedule 1 drug?

Medical Cannabis: Voices from the Frontlines » Blog Archive » Federal Agency Tips Hat to Medical Cannabis While 9-Year-Old Rescheduling Petition Gathers Dust
Pingback posted April 21, 2011 @ 12:56 pm

[...] to the Washington Independent, the National Cancer Institute (NCI), a federal agency under the U.S. Department of Health and [...]

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