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Doctor Receives Federal Approval for Research of Medical Marijuana's Effects on AIDS Patients


November-December 1997

Donald Abrams, MD, a renowned researcher at the University of California, San Francisco, has received approval from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) for the first federally sponsored study of the medical effects of marijuana on AIDS patients (Sabin Russell, "S.F. study of marijuana, AIDS patients is approved key to debate over medicinal use," San Francisco Chronicle, October 9, 1997, p. A1; Lisa M. Krieger, San Francisco Examiner, October 10, 1997, p. 21).

Prior to receiving approval, Abrams had waited five years and submitted three different research proposals, all of which were rejected by NIDA after being approved by the FDA and all of the California institutional reviewers. With the passage of Proposition 215 in California and Proposition 200 in Arizona, federal officials may have felt pressure to expedite research on the medical efficacy of marijuana. Abrams will receive $978,000 from the National Institutes of Health, which oversees NIDA, to carry out a two-year study.

The project, titled "Short Term Effects of Cannabinoids in HIV Patients," will have 63 volunteers broken up into groups of 3-4 due to limited space at the hospital. Each group will be confined to the hospital for 25 days. One-third of the participants will smoke three rolled marijuana cigarettes a day, one-third will take the synthetic drug Marinol®, and the remaining participants will take a placebo that resembles Marinol®.

Dr. Donald Abrams - (415) 476-9554.