Thursday, 18 December 2014

Neurologists Say Jury Still Out on Medical Marijuana's Use for Brain Disorders


Easing federal restrictions on pot research might help get answers, doctors say

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WebMD News from HealthDay

By Dennis Thompson

HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 17, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- It's too soon to tell whether medical marijuana can help treat neurological disorders such as epilepsy, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson's disease, the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) said in a new position statement released Wednesday.

Marijuana may be useful in treating some illnesses of the brain and nervous system, but "there is not sufficient evidence to make any definitive conclusions regarding the effectiveness of marijuana-based products for many neurologic conditions," according to the statement.

To help settle the matter, the AAN statement called on the federal government to loosen its current regulations on marijuana research. These regulations likely restrict scientific research into medical pot's effectiveness and safety, the statement suggested.

Medical marijuana might be helpful for people with multiple sclerosis (MS), the AAN noted. It might reduce spasms, decrease pain and control urinary incontinence in people with MS, according to a review of studies the AAN published in April.

But the AAN statement said that the studies conducted so far do not provide enough evidence to support prescribing marijuana for neurological conditions, such as MS.

"They're not as robust as we need them to be," position statement author Dr. Anup Patel, a pediatric neurologist with Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, said of the studies conducted so far.

"There are not enough subjects and there's not good enough study design that we can say one way or another that this product would be beneficial and not harmful to our patients," Patel added.

The AAN believes that marijuana should be reclassified so that it's no longer a Schedule I drug. That classification means a drug has no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse, the AAN statement said.

Researchers who want to explore marijuana's medical potential now must fill out reams of extra paperwork, obtain a special license, and adhere to strict storage requirements set forth by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Patel said.

If federal regulators reclassified marijuana to a less-restrictive status, it would expand researchers' access to the drug. Reclassification would also pave the way for tests that could determine whether or not pot is an effective treatment, the statement said.

source : Neurologists Say Jury Still Out on Medical Marijuana's Use for Brain Disorders

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