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"MARINOL VERSUS NATURAL CANNABIS"New NORML Report Examines The Pros And Cons Of Synthetic THC Compared To Cannabis

Thursday, 11 August 2005

Washington, DC: Oral synthetic delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), legally available in the US by prescription as the medication Marinol, often provides only limited relief to a select group of patients - particularly when compared to natural cannabis, concludes a comprehensive report issued today by NORML and The NORML Foundation.

The report, entitled "Marinol Versus Natural Cannabis: Pros, Cons and Options for Patients," is a comparative analysis of the therapeutic efficacy of cannabis and the pharmaceutical drug. Citing more than 50 published studies and clinical trials, the report finds:

* Marinol lacks several of the therapeutic cannabinoids (naturally occurring compounds) available in cannabis.
* The synergism of these cannabinoids is likely more efficacious than the administration of Marinol alone.
* Marinol is far more psychoactive than natural cannabis.
* Cannabis vaporization offers distinct advantages over the oral administration of Marinol.
* Marinol is more expensive than natural cannabis.
* Patients ultimately prefer natural cannabis to Marinol.

NORML Senior Policy Analyst Paul Armentano, who authored the report, said, "Despite Marinol's legal status as the only FDA approved synthetic cannabinoid medicine, many patient populations continue to risk arrest and criminal prosecution to use natural cannabis medically, and most report experiencing greater therapeutic relief from it."

He continued: "The active ingredient in Marinol is a synthetic analogue of only one of the compounds in cannabis that is therapeutically beneficial to patients. The federal prohibition of the possession and use of natural cannabis unnecessarily burdens patients to use a synthetic substitute that lacks much of the therapeutic efficacy of cannabis and its cannabinoids."

Armentano concluded: "Marinol should remain a legal option for patients and physicians and the development of additional cannabis-based pharmaceuticals should be encouraged. However, federal and state laws should be amended to allow for those patients who are unresponsive to synthetic THC, or simply desire an alternative to oral dronabinol, the ability to use natural cannabis and its cannabinoids as a legal medical therapy without fear of arrest and/or criminal prosecution."

For more information, please contact Paul Armentano at (202) 483-5500. Read the report online at:
http://www.norml.org/index.cfm?Group_ID=6635 (HTML version) or
http://www.norml.org/pdf_files/NORML_Marinol_vs_Natural_Cannabis.pdf (PDF version).