DEA Approves Marijuana Study in California’s San Mateo County
The Drug Enforcement Administration last week approved a 12-week research program allowing California's San Mateo County to give government-produced marijuana to 60 AIDS patients, the AP/Los Angeles Times reports. Although Californians approved Proposition 215, which allows individuals to possess, cultivate and use marijuana for medicinal purposes, implementing the measure has been "difficult" because lawmakers have disagreed on guidelines for distribution and prescription. During the study, the latest step in the measure's implementation, the San Mateo County Health Center will provide marijuana to HIV/AIDS patients with neurological disorders. Dr. Dennis Israelski, chief of infectious diseases at San Mateo County's hospitals and clinics, will oversee the study. The study's goals are to determine whether marijuana relieves pain, increases appetites, settles the stomach, builds weight and steadies spastic muscles, as medical marijuana advocates say. The San Mateo study could commence as early as January (AP/Los Angeles Times, 11/24).
At the same time, other groups are studying the potential medical benefits of marijuana. This year, the University of California-San Diego started the nation's first institute, the Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research, to study the medical uses of marijuana. Over the next three years, the center plans to provide researchers with $9 million, enough funds to support six or seven studies per year, the AP/Baltimore Sun reports. Three other studies sponsored by NIH will focus on the "four main uses of marijuana that seem to hold the greatest promise," including relieving nausea, stopping weight loss, treating muscle spasticity conditions and easing pain (AP/Baltimore Sun, 11/26).