American Medical Association
By Steve Elliott
Marijuana use doesn't cause alterations in brain structure, according to a new study which fails to support past claims about cannabis and brain health.
Scientists looked at the effect of marijuana exposure on brain volume in the hippocampus, the amygdala, the ventral striatum, and the orbitofrontal cortex in groups of exposed and unexposed pairs of siblings. Researchers reported that all the volumetric differences identified "were within the range of normal variation," and that they were attributable to "shared genetic factors," not marijuana use.
"We found no evidence for the causal influence of cannabis exposure on amygdala volume," the authors concluded.
"We found that while cannabis users had lower amygdala volumes than nonusers, that difference appears to be linked to other predisposing factors," said senior author Arpana Agrawal, an associate professor of psychiatry at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, reports Dennis Thompson at HealthDay
Medical marijuana availability is expanding rapidly, but is it moving faster than research?
Yahoo Health spoke with, Kevin P. Hill, MD, MHS, assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and director of the Substance Abuse Consultation Service at McLean Hospital, and he said, “There’s a tremendous need for evidence-based guidance on medical marijuana, and I can tell you from speaking both nationally and internationally that physicians and patients alike are clamoring for practical advice.”
A series of studies and articles published on Tuesday in JAMA offer some answers to questions that have been on the minds of doctors, legislators, and the public:
• What conditions or symptoms can medical marijuana help relieve, and to what extent?
• What are the side effects, and how common and serious are they?
• And what does this mean for patients suffering from chronic conditions, and for the doctors treating them?
To read the complete article on Yahoo Health, click here: https://www.yahoo.com/health/huge-new-review-shows-what-medical-marijuan...
By Steve Elliott
Less than two weeks after the U.S. House passed a measure that would defund Drug Enforcement Administration raids on medical marijuana dispensaries, reports have begun to surface of DEA agents intimidating physicians trying to work with state-legal dispensaries in Massachusetts.
At least four more Massachusetts doctors recently received visits from the DEA agents, bringing to seven the number who got an unexpected ultimatum from the DEA for authorizing patients to use medical marijuana.
Federal investigators told the doctors they would have to "sever ties" with medical marijuana dispensaries or risk losing their license to prescribe medications, reports Kay Lazar at MThe Boston Globe.
Already, some doctors have been forced to resign their advisory positions with dispensaries, which Massachusetts voters agreed in 2012 to allow.
A spokeswoman at the DEA's headquarters in Washington, D.C., refused requests for an interview. The agency on Friday released a terse statement.
By Ardee Napolitano, The Daily Collegian
Unlike tobacco, smoking marijuana – even when done regularly – does not damage the performance of people’s lungs, according to a recent study published by The Journal of the American Medical Association.
The two-decade research, which followed 5,000 people who smoked an equivalent of one joint per day over the course of seven years, found out that despite their regular marijuana use, subjects were still able to push out a normal amount of air in one second after taking a deep breath. This means that only minimal if any pulmonary obstruction has developed, contrary to findings involving tobacco.
“Recent evidence indicates that smoking marijuana, for lung cancer, is not as bad as smoking tobacco is,” said Lyle Craker, a plant sciences professor at the University of Massachusetts who has studied medical marijuana for several years now. “Marijuana is relatively less dangerous than some other drugs.”
One possible explanation from the authors of the study states that because marijuana users “train” themselves to hold in the smoke, they were able to maintain proper breathing cycles.
Still, smoking marijuana can result in heavy coughing and is linked to mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and depression, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). The NIDA also states that cannabis impairs users’ senses by reducing attention span and motivation, which makes them prone to accidents.
By Monica Guzman, Seattle PI Staff
Marijuana has long been classified as a dangerous drug with no medical benefits. But thanks in part to the work of a University of Washington medical student, a major medical association this week urged the federal government to reconsider.
"It's a huge shift on medical ideology," said Sunil Aggarwal, who's been studying the medical uses of marijuana for 10 years. "It's something I've been dreaming of since I was an undergraduate and found out that marijuana wasn't a horribly dangerous thing."
Since 1997, the American Medical Association has taken a hard line against the drug, endorsing its classification as a Schedule 1 controlled substance -- the most restrictive category -- and asserting its lack of medical value. Aggarwal's research, published in his dissertation and in two articles in the Journal of Opioid Management -- helped convince AMA members that the drug has potential.
More Research Is Needed, But Difficult to Fund Due to Stigma, Experts Say
By Joseph Brownstein, GMA
Given the many challenges involved in raising an autistic child, parents are willing to try a variety of potential remedies, many of which are controversial and unproven.
But one potential treatment that has gained attention recently is one that was controversial well before its first mention in connection with autism.
"At first I did some research, and I found a doctor who actually had a protocol for medical marijuana in children diagnosed with autism," Mieko Hester-Perez of Fountain Valley, Calif., told "Good Morning America."
Hester-Perez made her decision to try giving her 10-year-old son, Joey Perez, medical marijuana after his weight had become dangerously low due to his unwillingness to eat. She said that at the time she began the approach, he weighed only 46 pounds.
"You could see the bones in his chest. He was going to die," she said.
By Stephanie Condon, CBS News
The American Medical Association on Tuesday adopted a resolution calling for the government to review its classification of marijuana, in order to ease the way for more research into the use of medical marijuana.
While the AMA, the largest physician's organization in the U.S., explicitly states it does not endorse any current state-based medical marijuana programs or the legalization of marijuana, the move is a significant shift that continues a trend toward support for easing restrictions against the drug.
"Our American Medical Association (AMA) urges that marijuana's status as a federal Schedule I controlled substance be reviewed with the goal of facilitating the conduct of clinical research and development of cannabinoid-based medicines," the AMA's statement (PDF) reads. "This should not be viewed as an endorsement of state-based medical cannabis programs, the legalization of marijuana, or that scientific evidence on the therapeutic use of cannabis meets the current standards for a prescription drug product."
By Daniel Tencer
The American Medical Association on Tuesday issued a cautious but historically significant call to change America's marijuana prohibition laws, urging a "review" of the drug's status as a Schedule I drug.
At a meeting in Houston, the AMA's House of Delegates adopted a new policy that calls for "marijuana's status as a federal Schedule I controlled substance be reviewed with the goal of facilitating the conduct of clinical research and development of cannabinoid-based medicines, and alternate delivery methods."
That does not mean the AMA supports the legalization or decriminalization of marijuana.
Schedule I drugs are those considered to have no medical benefit and to be harmful when used under any circumstances. As such, marijuana is currently grouped by the federal government with drugs like heroin and LSD. By comparison, cocaine and methamphetamines are classified as Schedule II drugs, which may have some clinical benefits when used in the proper circumstances. The AMA's stance could simply result in the rescheduling of marijuana as a controlled substance that has some medical benefit.
However, Aaron Houston, director of government relations for the Marijuana Policy Project, calls the move "historic" all the same, noting that it comes from "what has historically been America's most cautious and conservative major medical organization."
Story continues below...