Bad Science Smears Medicinal Cannabis


Today I was greeted by a number of articles which loudly proclaimed that a recent UK trial indicated that cannabis isn’t effective in slowing the progress of multiple sclerosis. The Clinical Neurology Research Group (CNRG) at the Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry undertook a 3-year study which examined the impact of  THC capsules on MS patients compared to the impact of placebos.

BBC News: Cannabis ‘does not slow multiple sclerosis’ progress

The CUPID (Cannabinoid Use in Progressive Inflammatory brain Disease) trial saw patients taking only the isolated THC chemical twice per day, although it’s unclear from their data whether they used synthetic THC or an actual extract from the cannabis plant. This is a crucial question, which forms part of the correspondence I sent to them today. Not only could they be relying on a non-natural source of THC, but they’ve completely overlooked the fact that medicinal cannabis works based on the interaction the body has with the complete spectrum of cannabinoids and terpenes found naturally within the cannabis plant. Products such as Marinol have hit problems, as they’re a simple reconstruction of THC, and nothing more.

The problem with these very public failures is that people will associate the plant with not making the grade, rather than the manufactured, isolated solution used in the trials. And so I wrote to the lead researcher to get some answers, which I’ll post if and when he replies.



Professor Zajicek,

I’d like to thank you and your team for the work you’re doing to help patients who suffer from MS. It’s such an important area of research, and I’m particularly interested in the CUPID project, as mentioned in a BBC News article on 29th February 2012. I felt there was something key missing from the reports, and wondered if you may in future investigate the full spectrum of cannabinoids present in the plant’s flowers? It wasn’t clear whether THC isolation was done having already examined the other cannabinoids, or if this were the sole cannabinoid to be considered.

I ask as I’ve read numerous papers which detail cannabidiol (CBD) as being the foremost medicinal element of the cannabis plant, and moreover, we see licensed products such as Sativex, which is a complete extraction of a mixture of cannabis sativa and cannabis indica plants, which has a THC to CBD ratio of roughly 1:1. This is in stark contrast to products such as Marinol, which are effectively synthetic THC, and do not contain the full selection of cannabinoids and terpenes, and see patients more likely to suffer psychological issues. At present I find the evidence inconclusive as to which elements can be removed to leave just those which are effective. However, I do believe that the best medicinal results come from something approaching the full extract.

Perhaps your study was framed incorrectly in the media, but it has given the impression that cannabis as a plant is not useful in treating MS, and it concerns me that this may in turn impact on research grants afforded to this vital area of study.

Thanks again for your team’s great work.


Contact Them Yourself

Do you suffer from MS? Would you like to contact the CNRG to give them your side of the story, or indeed get involved with their clinical trials? Please contact the lead researcher and his team via the below means, specifically referencing the CUPID research. Please be respectful of the work undertaken by his team, and present any counter-information in an amicable manner.

Professor John Zajicek

Job title: Professor of Clinical Neuroscience, Institute of Health Service Research (Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry)


Email (team):

Tel: +44 (0) 1752 315248


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