Research Demonstrates Marijuana Is Safe For HIV Patients

Researchers at the University of California-San Francisco have found that HIV patients who smoke marijuana do not disrupt the effect of anti-retroviral drugs.
This was the first double blind study in the United States to examine marijuana and HIV patients. Sixty-seven people participated in the study that was conducted by Donald Abrams, MD at San Francisco General Hospital. Twenty of the patients smoked marijuana three times a day and gained an average of 7.7 pounds during the 21-day study; 25 patients took oral dronabinol (synthetic THC) and gained on average 7 pounds; and 21 patients took the placebo and gained only 2.9 pounds on average.
Thirty-six of the patients started the study with undetectable HIV RNA levels and those levels remained constant throughout the study. The 26 patients who had detectable HIV RNA levels experienced declines. The patients who smoked marijuana or took oral dronabinol experienced slightly greater decreases in HIV RNA levels than the patients who took the placebo.
“The slightly better decline experienced by those using marijuana or dronabinol is intriguing, but not statistically significant,” Abrams said. “The good news is that there is no statistical difference between the three groups.”
“The fact of the matter is that any good clinician with his eyes and ears open has known for a long time that cannabis is very useful in the treatment of the AIDS reduction syndrome and does not harm patients,” said Professor Lester Grinspoon, MD, of the Harvard Medical School and NORML Foundation Chair. “When all the dust settles, and when marijuana is admitted to the U.S. pharmacopoeia, it will be seen as one of the least toxic drugs in the whole compendium.”
For more information, please contact Donald Abrams at (415) 476-9554 ext. 12; Allen St. Pierre, NORML Foundation Executive Director at (202) 483-8751; or Lester Grinspoon, MD, NORML Foundation Chair at (617) 277-8423.