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Cannabinoids in Marijuana Can Relieve Severe Pain, Researchers Report


November-December 1997

Active chemicals in marijuana can relieve serious pain, including chronic pain and arthritic inflammation, researchers reported on October 26 in New Orleans at a meeting of the Society for Neuroscience (Robert Lee Holtz, "Chemicals in Pot Cut Severe Pain, Study Says," Los Angeles Times, October 27, 1997, p. A1; Robert Lee Holtz, "Marijuana Chemicals can ease serious pain, animal studies show," Houston Chronicle, October 27, 1997, p. 2A).

The chemicals, known as cannabinoids, include delta-9-THC, the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. According to scientists, these chemicals work without some of the unwanted side effects of more traditional pain-relief medications -- such as opiate-based pain killers -- addiction or tolerance development. Researchers said a new class of pain medication may emerge from the studies.

The findings were based on animal studies carried out by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), the University of Michigan and Brown University. "Cannabinoids, at least in animal models, can reduce pain," said UCSF pharmacology expert Ian Meng. The researchers said the studies may prompt broader support of research into marijuana's medical properties.

Dr. Ian Meng - UCSF, Tel: (415) 476-4201.