Study throws into doubt claims for medical marijuana.

Depending on who you listen to, medical cannabis is either a rising star in the world of therapeutics or an over-vaunted pariah that should never have exited the grubby world of the illicit street corner deal.

In October 2016, the Australian federal government legalised medicinal cannabis, paving the way for individual statesto legislate its use for a range of conditions including intractable epilepsy, pain and nausea in cancer, and limb spasticity in multiple sclerosis.

Sensing opportunity, a number of companies are jostling for early position in what is estimated to be a 100 million dollar a year medical cannabis market. A recent exposé by current affairs programme Four Corners called it a “green rush”, replete with “marijuana moguls”.

The science, however, is decidedly patchy, plagued by poor quality studies and the challenge of giving standard doses of a drug with over 400 chemical ingredients – 60 of which are the cannabinoids implicated in pain relief, and others having opposing effects.

One recent review found “reasonable evidence” of benefit for nausea in chemotherapy. Another in children and adolescents found “increasing evidence of benefit for epilepsy”, but insufficient evidence to support use for spasticity and neuropathic pain, a burning sensation caused by oversensitive nerves.

A new study, led by Gabrielle Campbell from the Australia’s National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC) at the University of New South Wales in Sydney is unlikely to induce cheer in either stockholders of medical cannabis companies, or patients desperate for relief.

Read the full article in Cosmos magazine here