What future for cannabis?

April 16, 2003

The potential therapeutic effects of cannabis are outlined in a review in the May issue of THE LANCET NEUROLOGY. The review is published in anticipation of results from randomised trials expected later this year investigating possible benefits of the drug for people with multiple sclerosis. The first cannabis-based medicines are currently being considered for license.

Cannabis is the third most popular recreational drug after alcohol and tobacco. The history, biological/pharmacological effects, and current research investigating its potential therapeutic benefits are outlined by Alan Thompson and David Baker from the Institute of Neurology, London, UK, and colleagues. They comment how--in addition to the research into multiple sclerosis--basic research is enabling the discovery that some cannabis compounds have previously unknown qualities--notably that cannabis could play a role in preventing neurodegeneration with implications for the future management of disorders such as Huntington's, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, and motor-neuron diseases

Alan Thompson concludes: "As we learn more about the pharmacological activities of compounds in cannabis and their biological targets outside the cannabinoid system, varieties of cannabis might be tailored to different diseases or used in combination with known drugs. Whatever the future holds, there are many challenges to be overcome before we view cannabinoids as routine medicine in neurological disorders."
Contact: Professor Alan J Thompson, Neurological Outcome Measures Unit, Institute of Neurology, Queen Square, London WC1N 3BG, UK;
T) 44-207-837-3611 x4152;
F) 44-207-813-6505.


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