A researcher in Colorado is using crowdfunding to support research into the long-term use of cannabis by patients with multiple sclerosis (MS). While the study will not be providing medical marijuana to patients, it will be observing patients who already use it to treat debilitating MS symptoms.
The study will be conducted by Thorsten Rudroff of CSU’s Integrative Neurophysiology lab.
“Marijuana use may have additional benefits, such as improving motor function, but this is all based on anecdotal evidence,”
“We don’t have scientific evidence that this is working, so we think this research could provide valuable information.”
Marijuana is classified as a Schedule I substance by the DEA. This limits the locations where cannabis research can take place, as well as sources for funding. Because of Colorado’s marijuana legislation, Rudroff can conduct his study more freely. “This research can’t be done in many other states that don’t have the same marijuana laws,” he said. He hopes to raise $7,000 for the study.
MS is an autoimmune disorder that causes damage to the nervous system. Patients can experience double-vision, loss of vision, partial paralysis, numbness and difficulties with speech. While there are different types of MS, they all involve a deterioration of the protective tissue that surrounds nerve cells. There are treatment options for MS, but they can cause side effects that are equally intolerable.
There is some evidence that cannabis could treat MS. A study focusing on autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) in mice saw not only a reduction in symptoms, but a reversal of paralysis. EAE is used as a model to study MS using mice because it has similar causes and symptoms.
Many people with MS are already using medical marijuana to treat symptoms. A 2002 survey revealed that 45% of the surveyed MS patients already used medical marijuana, citing reduction in spasms and pain, as well as mood enhancement. Rudroff is using this data by deploying an online, anonymous survey to gather more information. He hopes that his efforts attract the attention of larger research organizations, such as the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and the National Institutes of Health, that could help fund further research.