If Sativex Works, So Does Pot

A new study reported in the journal Pain finds that Sativex, an orally administered cannabis extract spray, is effective at treating neuropathic pain in patients for whom standard painkillers do not provide adequate relief. During the five-week study, 125 subjects with peripheral neuropathic pain continued to take previously prescribed analgesics and achieved additional relief from Sativex, averaging a reduction of about 1.5 points on a 10-point self-reported pain scale, compared to half a point for the placebo spray. The research is part of GW Pharmaceuticals' efforts to gain wider regulatory approval for Sativex, which is approved for treatment of multiple sclerosis in Europe and for treatment of both cancer pain and M.S.-related neuropathic pain in Canada. 

Every study that demonstrates Sativex's medical utility also demonstrates marijuana's medical utility, belying the U.S. government's claim that it has none. At the same time, if the FDA does eventually approve Sativex for prescription use in the U.S., it will undermine the case for medical marijuana. Like smoked (or vaporized) marijuana but unlike the FDA-approved THC capsules sold under the brand name Marinol, Sativex can be taken easily by people suffering from severe nausea, and its effects are felt quickly, so patients can readily adjust their doses for optimal effect. Smoked/vaporized marijuana may be somewhat faster-acting than Sativex, which is absorbed through the mucus membranes in the mouth, and it would presumably be cheaper as well, although not for patients who have prescription drug coverage. And while Sativex contains both THC and cannabidiol, other ingredients in marijuana may contribute to its therapeutic effect in certain applications.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • drawnasunder||

    Does it get you high?

    Because even if it does undermine the case for medical marijuana, if Sativex becomes easy to get, AND gets you high, then everyone wins.

  • Episiarch||

    At the same time, if the FDA does eventually approve Sativex for prescription use in the U.S., it will undermine the case for medical marijuana.

    I hate to be conspiracy-minded by this just works out so fucking well for the pharmaceutical companies. Effective pain medication that you can't grow in your backyard but need to get from them, while basically the same thing that you can grow in your backyard remains illegal.

    Plus black markets in drugs benefit the drug companies. If somebody steals a truckload of oxycontin that was going to a hospital, that hospital will order more because they need it.

    The drug companies have produced a lot of great things to extend people's lives, give them boners, and many, many positive things but I have the feeling that they are an enemy when it comes to the WOD.

  • Tym||

    Because even if it does undermine the case for medical marijuana, if Sativex becomes easy to get, AND gets you high, then everyone wins.

    Yes, but I am sure that even if the DEA reluctantly allows its use in the USA, it will be schedule II and triplicate prescription and doctors will be given 96,894 years in prison if it is suspected that there is a 0.0567% chance that one of their patients may under some circumstances take 0.000467% more than theraputically required for the average person to achieve the absolute minimum dose needed to treat on label conditions.

  • ||

    ...unlike the FDA-approved THC capsules sold under the brand name Marinol...


    How did I miss this? So, remind me again of the argument against medical marijuana? Given the approval of Marinol, it must surely rely on second-hand smoke arguments...

    Effective pain medication that you can't grow in your backyard but need to get from them...


    Yeah, a classic case of same shit, different package. I'm sure the marketers are going for brand recognition here.

  • ||

    The drug companies have produced a lot of great things to extend people's lives, give them boners, and many, many positive things but I have the feeling that they are an enemy when it comes to the WOD.

    Oh yeah, positive things like Gleemonex?

  • Episiarch||

    Oh yeah, positive things like Gleemonex?

    Now we're cooking with evil gas!

  • ||

    Oh yeah, positive things like Gleemonex?

    It's made with monkey cum, you know. They lock the monkeys in their cages all day and make them jack off to animal pornography.

  • ||

    Effective pain medication that you can't grow in your backyard but need to get from them...

    Yeah, a classic case of same shit, different package. I'm sure the marketers are going for brand recognition here.



    OxyContin® vs time released heroin (no patent, no patent pending). Which will the government, Democratic or Republican, approve?

    I've got money that says heroin is just as effective, with indistinguisable side effects. But we've got to continue the War on Drugs Sanity.

  • ||

    ...averaging a reduction of about 1.5 points on a 10-point self-reported pain scale

    That's it!? I don't know about peripheral neuropathic pain. How effective were the analgesics to begin with? For pain I and my friends have dealt with, a hit of primo indica will boost the effectiveness of whatever over the counter pain killer you like, 100x. I, and others I know, that have suffered from temporary but debilitating pain, have gone from near suicidal to perfectly fine in under a minute with an Advil/bong hit coctail.

  • ||

    Correct, the "war on drugs" is a war on sanity, morality and in practice amounts to government backed, government sanctioned sadism.

    I lost the best friend I ever had and the first friend I made when I moved from the UK to the US. After developing a non life threatening but excruciatingly painful medical condition and faced with doctors who were unable/reluctant to prescribe appropriate pain relief medication he committed suicide.

  • Tacos mmm...||

    I hate to be conspiracy-minded by this just works out so fucking well for the pharmaceutical companies. Effective pain medication that you can't grow in your backyard but need to get from them, while basically the same thing that you can grow in your backyard remains illegal.


    That's been going on with morphine for years.

  • ||

    I, and others I know, that have suffered from temporary but debilitating pain, have gone from near suicidal to perfectly fine in under a minute with an Advil/bong hit coctail[sic].

    If you're talking about what I think, there's no tomato juice/hair of the dog/alka-seltzer/raw egg bullshit hangover remedy more effective than a nice fat bong rip and some ibuprofen.

  • ||

    If you're talking about what I think, there's no tomato juice/hair of the dog/alka-seltzer/raw egg bullshit hangover remedy more effective than a nice fat bong rip and some ibuprofen.

    Opiates (if you can get them sans tylenol) work great for hangovers.

  • Paul||

    government's claim that it has none. At the same time, if the FDA does eventually approve Sativex for prescription use in the U.S., it will undermine the case for medical marijuana. Like smoked (or vaporized) marijuana but unlike the FDA-approved THC capsules sold under the brand name Marinol, Sativex can be taken easily by people suffering

    Wow. Wow! Can I call 'em or what?

  • ||

    "Oh yeah, positive things like Gleemonex?

    It's made with monkey cum, you know. They lock the monkeys in their cages all day and make them jack off to animal pornography."

    Real sick shit, like two bats and a pig.

  • GILMORE||

    my friend glenn, who eventually died of his Leukemia, took marinol, and compared it to smoking grass, and determined the marinol was something like 1/5 as effective at helping him keep food down. He was receiving very agressive treatment (due to the acute nature of his condition), and the medication was severly debilitating - like poison, basically. He found that out that the palliative effects of actual 'dope' did more to help him live semi-normally than did the THC pill... neither here nor there I guess, but at least an anecdote that the 'pill' versions of weed are kind of a waste of time from a patient point of view.

    That said, jesus christ, what is it, like 10 weed posts a week? Y'all libberstanians are just a loopy gang'uh stoners.

  • Paul||

    Effective pain medication that you can't grow in your backyard but need to get from them, while basically the same thing that you can grow in your backyard remains illegal.

    Episiarch, my heart goes out to you, really it does, but it's time to wake up.

    If marijuana is legalized, even in it's plant, smokable version, you ain't growin' any in your backyard. Yeah, yeah, with the right amount of arm-twisting, you might be able to grow very small amounts for self consumption. I spoke at length for several hours with an ATF agent some years ago, who was surprisingly candid about what the world of legalized marijuana would look like. He said it would be a lot like Beer and alcohol.

    Its production will be regulated and licensed for strenghth, safety and potency. Small amounts for self consumption may be legal to grow, but it will be highly limited. Large commercial growers will probably be the order of the day. A boutique industry may crop up (pardon the pun) but they'll probably still be pretty tightly regulated.

    Plus, factor in the fact that social conservatives will be pissed off about it, so they'll add some new layers of regulation and likely will never license it for recreational use. Read: you'll need a prescription.

  • ||

    Weed has some 67 different chemicals naturally that work together to offer pain relief. Marinol only has a few of those ,less than ten if I recall, chemically synthesised. The few that marinol has are the weakest of the active ones in pot. That is why it is marginally effective comparatively. Curious if the new stuff has more of the right stuff.

  • GILMORE||

    Sometime someone should link to the Economist's whole issue devoted to the 'War on Drugs' question... where they basically came down to the point saying, 'it's mostly a waste of time and money and isnt doing jack'. They have more cred as far as im concerned compared to NORML or whoever. I think it was like 2001 or 2002 when it came out.

  • ||

    He said it would be a lot like Beer and alcohol.

    They sell home brewing kits at WalMart. Well, maybe not WalMart proper, but they are available in a wide variety of beer stores.

    Plus, you know THIS AEROGARDEN THINGY isn't just for growing basil.

  • GILMORE||

    Fuck the AEROGARDEN - check out the PHOTOTRON!

    http://www.phototron.com/

    (wasted $500 on one of these things and got busted by my college maintanence staff - but the admin was smart enough not to turn me over to the cops. just weak smack on wrist. I was deans list 4 semesters in a row. They figured i was just 'experimenting'. right. :)

  • Paul||

    They sell home brewing kits at WalMart. Well, maybe not WalMart proper, but they are available in a wide variety of beer stores.

    I know more people smoke marijuana than buy these homebrew kits.

    I'm not negating your point, I'm just saying that marijuana will be a largely commercial operation if it's ever legalized.

  • Paul||

    What, Gilmore? According to the picture, you're growing roses with it? What's with all the cloak and dagger?

  • ||

    I don't get it...if the active ingredient of pot works as a medicine this way, why can't people just get it from pot?

  • ||

    Plus, you know THIS AEROGARDEN THINGY isn't just for growing basil.

    Really? Thanks, I'd have never thought of it. From someone who rarely carried a dope pipe because they're just to damn easy to fabricate on the spot and discard after use. The war on drug paraphernalia is possibly the stupidest thing that government has ever conceived of. Hydroponics is an educational, and fun hobby! You can grow vegetables indoors under artificial lighting too.

  • ||

    I used Marinol during one of my stem cell transplants. It is pretty effective, but I've never smoked pot so I couldn't tell you how strong it is in comparison. of course another big problem is keeping it down. lost at least half of those after throwing up. all I can say is, if you are against people trying to feel better, you are a fucktard.

  • ||

    I'm just saying that marijuana will be a largely commercial operation if it's ever legalized.

    I disagree. Reefer is too damneed easy to grow. About as difficult as thistles and dandelions. I'd never pay for it if I could legally cultivate it. A small closet's large enough for personal use.

    Full disclosure, except for some experimental use as a teenager/young adult, I have never used illegal drugs.

  • Paul||

    It is pretty effective, but I've never smoked pot so I couldn't tell you how strong it is in comparison. of course another big problem is keeping it down.

    If you didn't laugh a lot and then get the munchies, it's not the same.

  • Dan Erdman||

    A new study reported in the journal Pain...

    "Look, honey, the new issue of Pain came in the mail today!!"

  • Russell Barth||

    Sativex at least HAS some actual cannabis IN it. Marinol doesn't. Most "pot" pills are just synthetic mimics of cannabis, and have the synthetic effects.

    Sativex is one strain in one delivery method. It is like playing with one lego block

  • Russ 2000||

    I disagree. Reefer is too damneed easy to grow. About as difficult as thistles and dandelions.

    A commercial industry will develop, but people who like it will grow their own like people who grow their own tomatoes.

  • ||

    A commercial industry will develop, but people who like it will grow their own like people who grow their own tomatoes.

    When this comes to pass will it also kill H&R's bizarre antipathy to farmers' markets?

    How bizarre. How bizarre.

  • R C Dean||

    what the world of legalized marijuana would look like. He said it would be a lot like Beer and alcohol.

    You say that like its a bad thing. Good God, what an advance that would be.

  • ||

    In my early 20's I had a non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Treatment was extremely agressive and my onocologist was very upfront about it. I can give you a prescription of Marional, but it is basically shit, your best best is to use the "real thing" (some paraphrasing going on but he did use the quote.

    Stupid shit that I was, I tried the Marinol to maintain appearances,look Mom I'm not an reprobate doper, though I was no stranger to the devil weed. Of course it was crap, managing to provide all of the bad effects of pot, dopiness/anxiety while completely missing the good ones.

  • ||

    I wonder if Ron Bailey owns stock in said pharmaceutical company. As if being a lying whore for Monsanto wasn't enough, we have to listen to him make excuses for pharma companies and tell us that they are making our lives better. Get real. These people profit off of people's sickness. They have no motivation to do anything except make us continue to pay through the nose. Fuck them.

    In other pharmaceutical news, this past December a man named Jim Gottstein gave a bunch of internal memos from Eli Lily to the New York Times that indicate they are lying about their best-selling antipsychotic Zyprexa. They have been covering up the fact that it causes diabetes.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/17/business/17drug.html?hp&ex=1

    Of course their next best selling drug is a diabetes drug. They have a gag order on Mr. Gottstein right now, which is why you probably haven't heard about this.

    I'll refrain from going on and on here, but you get the idea. Pharmaceutical companies are death profiteers. Fuck them.

  • ||

    I've taken marinol before and the high was nothing like smokin the dankitydankdank kronic..

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Progressive Puritans: From e-cigs to sex classifieds, the once transgressive left wants to criminalize fun.
  • Port Authoritarians: Chris Christie’s Bridgegate scandal
  • The Menace of Secret Government: Obama’s proposed intelligence reforms don’t safeguard civil liberties

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement