Ottawa Citizen, Vancouver Sun - Medical marijuana shows promise for pain, but scientists and doctors are divided on medicinal benefits of smoking the drug


Cheryl Campbell says she owes her ability to get through each day to a drug that critics condemn, especially when it's smoked - which is how most of the thou-sands of Canadians who self-medicate with pot prefer to take it. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency was unequivocal earlier this year: Smoked marijuana is not medicine, and it's not safe. "No matter what medical condition has been studied," the agency ruled, "other drugs already approved by the [U.S. Food and Drug Administration] have been proven to be safer than smoked marijuana."

But research into medicinal marijuana is undergoing a surge of interest, with more evidence emerging not only of its ability to ease human suffering, but also of its apparent safety.

Meanwhile, researchers across Canada are testing cannabinoids against arthritis, glaucoma and gastrointestinal inflammatory diseases, such as Crohn's. "Science is just scratching the surface," says Dr. Mark Ware, head of the Canadian Consortium for the Investigation of Cannabinoids and director of clinical research at the Alan Edwards Pain Management Unit at Montreal's McGill University Health Centre.