Fifth Clinical Conference on Cannabis Therapeutics, April 3, 2008 - This bi-annual medical conference, hosted by Patients Out of Time, is a gathering of medical doctors and researchers specializing in medicinal Cannabis (marijuana) and the workings of the Endo-Cannabinoid system – the regulator of many organ systems and processes of the human body. This year the conference was held in Pacific Grove, California, by the ocean on the Monterrey Peninsula. The enduring sea seemed to underscore the emergence of new science from an old medicine.
The entire conference is currently being edited for posting on the net. In the meantime, I’ve been editing interviews that I conducted with some of the presenters. These can be seen on the Patients Out of Time You Tube Channel.
Today, the sad news of Senator Edward Kennedy’s diagnosis of Glioma, a cancer of the brain that is very hard to treat, compelled me to edit one interview in particular. It was with Paul Armentano, the Deputy Director of NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws). Paul has done a lot of research on medical Cannabis, having compiled a booklet, “Emerging Clinical Applications for Cannabis & Cannabinoids: A Review of the Scientific Evidence:2000 – 2008″ (available as a PDF) on several diseases that are successfully treated with Cannabis, including promising research on Glioma cancer cell lines (See Below) . This job has made Paul one of the few Americans with direct knowledge of some of the cutting edge science emerging out of Europe, Israel and other countries, so people with sick loved ones often call him, after hearing of possible help from Cannabis research. He has to tell these desperate families that few human trials of medical Cannabis therapies have been allowed in this country, with none on the horizon for the likes of exciting research from Spain, where Dr. Manuel Guzman has slowed the growth of brain cancer tumors using THC - a principle Cannabinoid in marijuana. In this video, Paul observes that many of the callers are asking about alternative treatments for Glioma, often incredulous that our government would block research into such an important area. Also, Dr. David Bearman offers observations on fears of patients facing devastating illness:THC Kills Glioma Cancer Cells – Medical Miracles from Europe
 Guzman et al. 2003. Inhibition of tumor angiogenesis by cannabinoids. The FASEB Journal 17: 529-531.
 Guzman et al. 2004. Cannabinoids inhibit the vascular endothelial growth factor pathways in gliomas. Cancer Research 64: 5617-5623.
 Allister et al. 2005. Cannabinoids selectively inhibit proliferation and induce death of cultured human glioblastoma multiforme cells. Journal of Neurooncology 74: 31-40.
 Guzman et al. 2006. A pilot clinical study of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol in patients with recurrent glioblastoma multiforme. British Journal of Cancer.
Dr. Guzman was scheduled to present his research at the Cannabis Therapeutics Conference, but a family medical emergency prevented his attendance. *** A PDF of Dr. Guzman’s Research *** However, one of the Cannabis Therapeutics’ faculty members, Robert Melamede, PhD eloquently explained the principles involved in the “Global Homeostatic Regulation”of many bodily functions by the Endo-Cannabinoid system, including re-balancing of conditions like auto-immune disorders and cancers, in an interview in his office at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs:Cancer Cure – Cannabis & Cannabinoids,by Robert Melamede,PhD
In the documentary to which I referred during Paul’s interview - ”Surviving ALS“, Cathy Jordan experiences the neuroprotective effects of cannabis first hand, as it helps her over-taxed Endo-Cannabinoid system bring her auto-immune disorder (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) under control - moderating “excitotoxicity” and over production of glutamate. Dr. Melamede continues his interview in this chapter, explaining how neuropathic conditions are balanced by Cannabinoids.Surviving ALS with Cannabis, Chapter 3 – with Dr. Melamede
One fascinating aspect of Dr. Manuel Guzman’s work is that, as the tumors being treated are in brain (nerve) tissue, the neuroprotective properties of THC become extremely important. Whereas most cancer treatments cause damage to surrounding tissue (especially crucial in the brain), THC treatments actually protect adjacent non-cancerous nerve tissue.
In this video from the 3rd Cannabis Therapeutics Conference, Charlottesville, VA, in May of 2004, Dr. Raphael Mechoulam, of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, looks closely at the science of Cannabinoids in Neuroprotection. Professor Mechoulam was on the team that first isolated THC in 1964.Cannabinoid System in Neuroprotection, Raphael Mechoulam,PhD
It turns out that the first research into THC’s actions on cancer tumors was done in the U.S., back in 1974 during a government sponsored study seeking to prove the dangers of marijuana. When the results instead showed the promise of THC as a medicinal agent, our government suppressed the results and quietly gave a pharmaceutical company permission to develop a THC pill – now known as Marinol. And the crusade against marijuana continued…