Canada Set To Begin First Trial of Medical Marijuana’s Effect on HIV-Positive Participants
The Community Research Initiative of Toronto, in conjunction with St. Michael's Hospital and the Canadian HIV Trials Network, on Wednesday announced a joint study that will be the first in Canada to examine the medical benefit for people with HIV of smoking marijuana, the Toronto Globe and Mail reports. The study, which is set to begin in the next two weeks, will examine the effects of four different marijuana dosages on 32 HIV-positive patients. Researchers will examine whether the drug can increase appetite and encourage weight gain among the patients (Laghi, Toronto Globe and Mail, 10/10). The study will also document the safety of short-term marijuana use and the effect of smoking marijuana on HIV medications (CRIT release, 10/9). Participants in the two-month outpatient study will smoke doses of marijuana that will vary each week, with one smoke-free "cleans[ing]" week in between switching doses. The participants, who will not be aware of what dose they are smoking at any given time, will record how much they smoke, how they feel and how much and what they ate during each week-long period. Participants will be asked not to smoke any other marijuana during the study period. Although Canada has begun growing its own research-grade marijuana in Manitoba, the crop will not be ready in time for the study. The U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse, which is currently the only facility that produces research-grade marijuana, will provide the drug for the study (Canadian Press, 10/9). CRIT spokesperson Derek Thaczuk said, "Only when the safety and effectiveness of medicinal marijuana is demonstrated in rigorous, carefully-designed scientific studies, can it be accepted by the medical community. Research of this nature is pivotal in understanding whether marijuana is a credible therapy in disease management" (CRIT release, 10/9).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.