CancerHIV/AIDSMarijuana (Cannabinoids)Nausea/Vomiting

An alternative delivery system for tetrahydrocannabinol

The Food and Drug Administration issued a statement in April that no sound scientific studies support the medicinal use of marijuana for treatment. This lead to a seemingly endless list of editorials and articles assailing the FDA for political bias – here, here, here, here, and here.

You get the message.

Back on earth

Consumer Reports published a good article about marijuana almost 10 years ago, which is pertinent today.


  • Inadvisable to drive, operate heavy machinery, or try to learn anything important while under the drug’s influence
  • Daily users, after several days of abstinence, show subtle but measurable cognitive impairments
  • Smoking marijuana is harder on the lungs than tobacco, although its relation to cancer is not documented


  • Effective to treat nausea associated with chemotherapy, but less so than ondansetron (Zofran)
  • Might be effective treatment for wasting syndrome in AIDS
  • Anecdotal reports that smoked marijuana relieves symptoms associated with spinal cord injury

Part of the problem with the use of medical marijuana is that it looks like an excuse to smoke pot. In California where it is legal to use and sell marijuana to treat chronic pain, illness, or infirmity, neighborhoods are resisting new marijuana dispensaries, which they assert attract crime.

Perhaps the answer is a better and safer administration system than smoking or taking oral tablets (dronabinol, Marinol), which detractors claim has a slower onset of action and decreased ability to control the dose.

A vaporizing device called a Volcano has been tested successfully. In a recent publication, the investigators concluded that “the Volcano [is] a safe and effective cannabinoid delivery system.” Furthermore, “The final pulmonal uptake of THC is comparable to the smoking of cannabis, while avoiding the respiratory disadvantages of smoking.”

I look forward to reading about researchers and patients lobbying for further research with this device.

7/4/06 12:54 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.