All Rights reserved
The Canadian government this week approved the prescription sale of a liquid marijuana extract to treat symptoms of multiple sclerosis, the Washington, D.C.-based Marijuana Policy Project reports. Sativex, produced by U.K. firm GW Pharmaceuticals, is a whole-plant extract that contains all of the naturally occurring compounds called cannabinoids that are found in marijuana plants. MPP did not report when the product would be available in Canada, or whether health authorities would seek wider approval of Sativex to treat symptoms of other diseases, including HIV and cancer. The U.S. government does not permit medical marijuana use, but 10 states--Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington--have passed measures that allow seriously ill people to legally use the drug for medicinal purposes. Maryland has a law that does not legalize medical marijuana use or stop police from arresting users, but prevents those who are arrested from being jailed. The only federally approved marijuana-related product available in the United States is Marinol, a pill containing a synthetic version of THC, an active ingredient in marijuana. The Bush administration claims there is no scientific data to show that medical marijuana offers any health benefits to patients who smoke or ingest it, and vigorously opposes state-level laws permitting its use. But MPP says that the Canadian government's scientific review and approval of Sativex shows that Bush-administration arguments that marijuana has no medicinal value are false. "If Sativex is safe and effective, marijuana is safe and effective," the organization says in a press release. MPP executive director Rob Kampia adds, "With Canada taking such a significant step toward recognizing marijuana's safety and effectiveness as a medicine, it's becoming harder and harder for U.S. officials to defend arresting and imprisoning medical marijuana patients in our own country."