Medical Pot Use Facilitates AIDS Treatment, Study Says

Bangkok, Thailand: Patients who use medicinal cannabis to combat the side-effects of anti-HIV drugs are more likely to remain on their prescribed drug therapies than those who do not, according to cross-sectional survey data presented this week at the XV International AIDS Conference in Bangkok, Thailand.

Among patients suffering from nausea associated with anti-retroviral therapy, those who used medical marijuana were 3.3 times more likely to adhere to their medication regimens than non-users, a research team from the University of California at Berkeley and Stanford University found. Researchers based their findings on interviews with more than 160 patients.

“Our data suggest that medicinal use of marijuana may facilitate, rather than impede, anti-retroviral therapy adherence for patients with nausea, in contrast to the use of other illicit substances, which was associated with decreased adherence,” researchers concluded.

The results come six months after a San Francisco research team reported that smoking marijuana significantly alleviated pain in patients suffering from HIV-associated neuropathy. In that study, 12 of the 16 participants achieved at least a 30 percent reduction in pain after smoking cannabis. A 30 percent reduction in pain is considered to be a clinically meaningful amount of pain relief.

Follow up clinical trails examining the role of cannabinoids in HIV and AIDS patient populations are ongoing at California’s Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research.

Last year, clinical trial data published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine reported that short-term use of oral and inhaled marijuana does not elevate viral load in individuals with HIV infection who are receiving antiretroviral medications. As a result, authors of the study suggested that the medicinal use of inhaled marijuana has “acceptable safety in a vulnerable immune-compromised patient population.”

Most recently, a review of cannabinoids’ impact on the immune system published in the June issue of the German journal Der Schmerz concluded, “Most human studies have failed to demonstrate a well-defined and reproducable immuno-suppressive cannabinoid-effect.”

For more information, please contact either Paul Armentano or Allen St. Pierre of the NORML Foundation at (202) 483-5500. Abstracts of the survey data presented to the XV International AIDS Conference is available online at: