Ready, Fire, Aim: Overreaching Claims about Cannabis' Healing Power Mask Hunger for Research
Yesterday, the cannabis industry was doubtlessly engrossed with the stories about a promising study of cannabidiol's potential to treat drug-resistant seizures caused a form of pediatric epilepsy.
As the day wore on, the headlines became increasingly overheated.
It felt inevitable that one would "go to 11".
Someone Went to 11
The underlying story concerns a New England Journal of Medicine report on a double-blind placebo-controlled trial ("Trial of Cannabidiol for Drug-Resistant Seizures in the Dravet Syndrome") in which a cannabidiol (CBD) medication made by GW Pharmaceuticals had shown some promising results, (as even the article referenced above very ably reports).
In the NEJM summary we reviewed, during a 14-week study on a group of 120 children with Dravet's Syndrome, the frequency of convulsive seizures per month decreased by about 50% (from 12.4 to 5.9 for those using cannabidiol with their normal medications), and 5% (3 children) became seizure-free entirely. Very promising results!
Our concern with going-to-11 is that a) there were side-effects in virtually all patients who took the CBD product ("about 93 percent of people taking CBD had side effects — nausea, diarrhea... sleepiness and liver abnormality"), the cause of which is not immediately clear; and b) the study was only 14 weeks.
We are not doctors, but even as proponents of medicinal cannabis we are concerned it's too early to say definitively that cannabis can treat seizures.
But whose fault is that?
This article is not about dissing an article on another site, it's about the desperate hunger for cannabis decriminalization and legalization (removal from Schedule I), especially for medicinal uses. After all, cannabis has been used medicinally for thousands of years. But since the 1930's, it has been demonized, outlawed, and criminalized, so that scientific research such as the Dravet study have been prevented.