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Wayne State therapeutic marijuana use study could impact state policies, guide treatment
Date:11/3/2011

A $1.5 million grant to a Wayne State University researcher from the National Institute on Drug Abuse of the National Institutes of Health could have policy implications in Michigan and other states regarding the therapeutic use of marijuana.

Mark Greenwald, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry and behavioral neurosciences in the School of Medicine and director of the Substance Abuse Research Division, is seeking to understand the differences in marijuana use between three subgroups. Drawn from a pool of 1,800 HIV-positive patients in the WSU HIV clinic, the groups include those who are certified by the state to use marijuana for therapeutic reasons; those who are not certified but report using it at least occasionally for biological reasons such as nausea, pain relief and appetite stimulation; and those who use it only recreationally.

Greenwald prefers the term "therapeutic" to "medical" marijuana because doctors under federal law are prevented from actually prescribing it for their patients. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not list marijuana as having a medical use, but under laws in Michigan and some other states, doctors can certify that marijuana use may be beneficial to patients with particular conditions, one of which is HIV/AIDS.

"Implementation of state laws that allow therapeutic marijuana use including the Michigan Medical Marihuana Program (MMMP) create a significant policy problem because we lack systematic scientific data concerning factors that influence use patterns, abuse potential, decisions to seek or renew medical certification, impact of marijuana use on HIV transmission behaviors and health outcomes," Greenwald said. "Our overall goal is to address these knowledge gaps."

He will conduct two studies. The first, to begin later this year, will involve 150 marijuana-users living with HIV or AIDS.

Fifty will be certified therapeutic users, defined as having valid MMMP registration within the
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Contact: Julie O'Connor
julie.oconnor@wayne.edu
313-577-8845
Wayne State University - Office of the Vice President for Research
Source:Eurekalert

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