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IACM-Bulletin of 28 May 2000

USA: AIDS patients may get cannabis for Californian study

A plan by San Mateo County (California) health officials to give marijuana to AIDS patients as part of a controlled study has won tentative approval from federal regulators. San Mateo County officials said they see no substantial hurdles to beginning one of the nation's few studies of the effects of medical marijuana.

The conditional approval came from a panel of Department of Health and Human Services scientists who reviewed a request for "research grade" marijuana. According to a letter to Dennis Israelski, chief of infectious diseases and AIDS medicine at the San Mateo County Health Center, who would lead the research effort, federal officials are "concerned primarily about issues of safety, size of doses, and diversion potential of take-home marijuana." They want the county to establish a "safety monitoring board" to oversee any issues that arise.

"We can do everything they've asked of us," County Supervisor Mike Nevin said. "With this approval, I think we can be distributing medical marijuana to people who need it within a few months." When approved, San Mateo County plans to distribute research-grade marijuana supplied by the federal government to 60 patients to relieve HIV-Associated Distal Symmetric Poly Neuropathy. If cannabis proves effective, the goal is to distribute marijuana to people with diseases such as cancer and glaucoma, chronic pain and other ailments, Nevin said.

(Source: San Francisco Chronicle of 16 May 2000)

News in brief

UK:
On 22 May the Prince of Wales asked a multiple sclerosis sufferer about using cannabis to help her condition. He asked June McLachlan, who attends the Prince and Princess of Wales Hospice in Glasgow, if she had tried the drug. The Prince was speaking during the fourth day of engagements in Scotland, where he is acting as Lord High Commissioner of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. "It was him that brought it up," Ms McLachlan said. "He said would you try it and I said I might, but not smoking it." (PA News of 22 May 2000)

Canada:
A recent national survey, conducted for the National Post by COMPAS Inc., found that 65% of those questioned support the idea that possession of small amounts of marijuana for personal use should be a non-criminal offence. They thought the concept of decriminalizing pot is an excellent, very good, or good idea. An estimated 600,000 Canadians have criminal records for marijuana possession. When asked if cannabis should be made legal for medical purposes, such as helping cancer patients control pain, an overwhelming 92% of respondents to the National Post poll answered in the affirmative. (Source: National Post of 15 May 2000)

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