25 January 2002
New Zealand researchers are hoping to discover the ideal form of therapeutic cannabis to alleviate the suffering of Aids and cancer patients without exposing them to harmful side effects.
Auckland University's Liggins Institute aims to develop a cannabis-like substance that will relieve symptoms but not give patients a "physically dysfunctional high".
The drug would be administered as eye drops or through an inhaler to eliminate the risk of lung cancer associated with cannabis use.
Researcher Michelle Glass said taking the drug orally - in cookies, for example - was unreliable because it took a while to enter the bloodstream. It was difficult for patients to gauge its effect because its potency would vary depending on what, and how much, the patient had eaten.
It was well recognised that smoking a joint relieved symptoms such as nausea, pain and appetite suppression in Aids sufferers and cancer chemotherapy patients, Dr Glass said.
"Other studies have shown that cannabis can help reduce spastic attacks in multiple sclerosis sufferers, as well as easing phantom limb pain," Dr Glass said.
But people not only became "physically
dysfunctional" from the "high" they experienced, they risked developing
lung cancer, so other ways of administering the drug were being searched
© Independent Newspapers Limited 2002