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Yeah, it's a cure-all. My buddy Jonah broke his elbow one time. He just smoked some weed. It still clicks, but it's cool.
-Ben Stone in the film Knocked Up.

Maybe Ben Stone and his friend Jonah were onto something. A study by Israeli scientists recently published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research found broken bones healed faster and stronger in lab rats injected with cannabidiol (CBD), one of the non-psychoactive compounds found in marijuana. In the study, Tel Aviv University researchers injected CBD into rats with mid-femoral fractures and found the CBD made the bones stronger during and after healing. The study found the treatment was far less effective, however, when the rats were injected with a combination of CBD and THC, marijuana's psychoactive ingredient. Sorry, Ben.

The Journal of the American Medical Association recently conducted a systematic review of all controlled medical trials of cannabis and cannabinoids, analyzing almost 80 studies involving more than 6,400 participants. Most of the trials didn't achieve statistical significance, the association found, but some did, including a study that found medical marijuana to be an effective treatment for chemotherapy-induced nausea, one that found it to reduce spasticity in multiple sclerosis patients, and two others that found it to be an effective pain treatment.

However, the review found little existing evidence that marijuana and cannabinoids help with anxiety and sleep disorders, psychosis, glaucoma, depression, dementia, epilepsy, Tourette's syndrome or schizophrenia. News write ups of the JAMA's review are all over the map, with some claiming the review questions the effectiveness of medical marijuana and others saying it confirms marijuana is, in fact, medicine.

In actuality, the review highlights marijuana's medical potential and the total dearth of "high-quality evidence" as to its effectiveness, which is directly related to the difficulty of conducting cannabis research in the United States, where the government continues to classify marijuana as a Schedule-1 controlled substance. So you have the nation's largest and most influential physicians' group saying marijuana has real medical potential to reduce pain and even save lives but there's not enough reliable evidence on the subject because Congress refuses to reclassify marijuana out the ranks of heroin, LSD and ecstasy. There's your story.

There's a lot of severe pain going around in Oregon these days. The New York Times recently reported that a whopping 93 percent of the state's 70,000 medical marijuana patients listed "severe pain" as the condition requiring treatment with pot. Ironically, "severe pain" is one of the state's qualifying conditions, along with HIV/AIDS, cancer, Alzheimer's disease, PTSD and multiple sclerosis, and, as the Times reporter notes, one that is "very subjective and potentially faked."

Meanwhile, a recent analysis by the Oregonian found that an alarming number of medical marijuana concentrates in the Beaver State are contaminated with pesticides, despite state mandated testing. The Oregonian purchased 10 concentrates from Portland dispensaries and had them tested by a pair of laboratories, which found eight to be contaminated with a total of 14 different chemicals, "including a half-dozen the federal government has classified as having possible or probable links to cancer. Among them: a common household roach killer and another whose health risks prompted the federal government to eliminate it for most residential uses more than a decade ago.

Ahhh ... Maybe that's what that clicking sound is all about.

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Thadeus Greenson

Thadeus Greenson is the news editor of the North Coast Journal.

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