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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MARCH 31, 2003
4:04 PM
CONTACT:  Marijuana Policy Project
Bruce Mirken, Director of communications 202-462-5747 x113

Medical Marijuana in Liquid Form Heads for Approval in Britain
Natural Marijuana Extract Helps MS, Chronic Pain Patients
 
LONDON - March 31 - In an historic step forward for medical marijuana, GW Pharmaceuticals has applied to Great Britain's Medicines Control Agency (equivalent to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration) for approval of its Cannabis-Based Medical Extract (CBME). A series of large, controlled trials showed that CBME provided substantial and sometimes dramatic relief for patients suffering from chronic pain and other symptoms resulting from multiple sclerosis or neurological conditions.

GW's medicine is, for all practical purposes, marijuana in liquid form. An extract made from plants bred for specific levels of various active components unique to marijuana, called cannabinoids, CBME is similar to marijuana-based extracts and tinctures that were legally available in the United States -- manufactured by major drug companies and sold through pharmacies -- until the federal government banned marijuana in 1937.

CBME, administered as a spray in the mouth, gave relief above and beyond standard medications, often helping where standard drugs failed or caused unacceptable side effects. CBME's side effects were few and generally mild. Approval by the Medicines Control Agency is expected before the end of the year.

"The research done by GW Pharmaceuticals has demolished virtually every argument made by opponents of medical marijuana," said Robert Kampia, executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based Marijuana Policy Project. "They have shown, in rigorous, scientific trials, that marijuana is indeed medicine, and that it's both effective and remarkably safe.

"CBME is nothing like Marinol, the synthetic THC pill that is available by prescription in the U.S.," Kampia added. "This whole- plant extract truly is liquid marijuana, with the dozens of naturally occurring components that scientists increasingly believe contribute to marijuana's medical benefits. GW's work proves what medical marijuana advocates have long known: Marijuana's therapeutic benefits go well beyond THC."

GW has not announced plans to seek approval in the U.S., where federal rules regulating marijuana research -- which require use of low-grade, government-grown marijuana -- make virtually impossible the sort of research GW has done.

"We hope this product makes it to the U.S someday," Kampia said. "But patients battling MS, cancer, and AIDS need the relief marijuana can give them today. People who are in pain now -- and who could get relief from a plant they can grow in their own backyards -- shouldn't have to wait for a product that may or may not ever come to this country."

GW Pharmaceuticals' announcement, background information on their product, and a preliminary summary of study results are available at http://www.gwpharm.com .

With 11,000 members nationwide, the Marijuana Policy Project is the largest marijuana policy reform organization in the nation. For more information, please visit http://www.mpp.org

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