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Scientists have developed cannabis in a spray form which could become
available on the NHS. The breakthrough could pave the way for cannabis
being used, under medical supervision, in aerosols and injections.

Professor Roger Pertwee, Britain's leading researcher into the medical
benefits of cannabis, believes this approach would be more acceptable to

GPs have opposed the use of the drug because it had to be smoked, which
risks causing cancer, or eaten, which is an unreliable method of taking the

Now Prof Pertwee believes the cannabis could be available through the
National Health Service within five to 10 years - if not sooner.

The House of Lords' science and technology committee has recommended the
drug be made available now for medical purposes.

The UK Government - through the Medical Research Council - is currently
carrying out a UKP 1m trial involving 600 multiple sclerosis patients to
assess the medical benefits of the drug.

Drug Companies:

Prof Pertwee, a reader in neuropharmacology at Aberdeen University, is
recognised as the country's leading researcher into the medical benefits of

He is also secretary of the International Cannabis Research Society.

His team's research has already attracted the interest of major drug
companies in the UK and the USA, where some states allow cannabis to be
used medically.

Prof Pertwee, who has been researching cannabis for 30 years, believes
"thousands" of Multiple Sclerosis patients in the UK are already using the
drug to relieve their chronic pain and muscle spasms.

"I agree with the government that more data should be available before
prescribing the drug," he said.

The research has interested drug companies

"But having said that I would make cannabis available on the NHS now
because a great many people are using it to relieve chronic pain and they
are doing that through the black market.

"I would rather they used cannabis under medical supervision."

He has developed and patented the new cannabis compound in collaboration
with Boston-based Dr Raj Razdan and Virginia-based Dr Billy Martin.

"Water soluble compounds also make the delivery of the drug easier and less
toxic," said Prof Pertwee.

"If we can get rid of some of the unwanted effects of cannabis it may be
able to help a great many conditions.

Pain Relief:

"If we can't then its benefits will be limited to relieving chronic pain."

He is currently working on removing the "high" from cannabis, a step which
involves work on the body's nervous system.

"Unfortunately the same receptor upon which cannabis acts is also the same
target for the pain it is trying to relieve," said Prof Pertwee.

"But it may be possible to have target drugs which block out or minimise
the high of cannabis but allow its pain-relieving qualities to work."

The UK Government banned the medically prescribed use of cannabis in 1971,
but in recent years there has been a growing reluctance by prosecutors to
take such users to court.

Note: If we can get rid of some of the unwanted effects of cannabis it may
be able to help a great many conditions. Professor Roger Pertwee
Distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in
receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.
MAP posted-by: Keith Brilhart

Newshawk: Cannabis News - marijuana, hemp, and cannabis news
Pubdate: Mon, 11 Dec 2000
Source: BBC News (UK Web)
Copyright: 2000 BBC
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