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Double-Blind Scientific Tests Of Marijuana Exist Despite Prohibitionist Propaganda


marijuana science research cannabisOften medical marijuana foes will use certain claims to support the position that cannabis has no proven medical benefits. One of the frequently-used claims is that there are no double-blind, placebo-controlled studies showing marijuana’s medicinal benefits. The University of California’s Center for Medical Cannabis Research has produced studies that meet that criteria and support the medical properties of cannabis.


The CMCR lists 13 scientific papers on their Completed Studies page, including these two:


Placebo-controlled, Double Blind Trial of Medicinal Cannabis in Painful HIV Neuropathy  

INVESTIGATOR: Ronald Ellis, M.D., Ph.D.

STUDY LOCATION: University of California, San Diego

PROJECT TITLE: Placebo-controlled, Double Blind Trial of Medicinal Cannabis in Painful HIV Neuropathy

PROJECT TYPE: Clinical Study



Of 127 volunteers screened, 34 eligible subjects enrolled and 28 completed both cannabis and placebo treatments. Among completers, pain relief was greater with cannabis than placebo (median difference in DDS pain intensity change, 3.3 points, effect size = 0.60; p = 0.016). The proportions of subjects achieving at least 30% pain relief with cannabis versus placebo were 0.46 [95% CI 0.28, 0.65] and 0.18 [0.03, 0.32]. Mood and daily functioning improved to a similar extent during both treatment periods. Although most side effects were mild and self-limited, two subjects experienced treatment-limiting toxicities.

Smoked cannabis was generally well-tolerated and effective when added to concomitant analgesic therapy in patients with medically refractory pain due to HIV DSPN.

The full results of this study were published in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology.

Their second study:

A Double Blind, Active Placebo Controlled Crossover Trial of the Antinociceptive Effects of Smoked Marijuana on Subjects with Neuropathic Pain; Correlation with Changes in Mood, Cognition, and Psychomotor Performance

INVESTIGATOR: Barth Wilsey, M.D.

STUDY LOCATION: University of California, Davis

PROJECT TITLE: A Double Blind, Active Placebo Controlled Crossover Trial of the Antinociceptive Effects of Smoked Marijuana on Subjects with Neuropathic Pain; Correlation with Changes in Mood, Cognition, and Psychomotor Performance

PROJECT TYPE: Clinical Study



Thirty-eight patients with central and peripheral neuropathic pain underwent a standardized procedure for smoking either high-dose (7%), low-dose (3.5%) or placebo cannabis. In addition to the primary outcome of pain intensity, secondary outcome measures included evoked pain using heat-pain threshold, sensitivity to light touch, psychoactive side-effects, and neuropsychological performance. A mixed linear model demonstrated an analgesic response to smoking cannabis. No effect on evoked pain was seen. Psychoactive effects were minimal and well-tolerated, with some acute cognitive effects, particularly with memory, at higher doses.

The full results of this study have been published in the Journal of Pain.


Beyond these two studies, other institutes of higher learning have been generating scientific papers about human trials related to the effects of cannabis.

From the Journal of Clinical Oncology:

Comparison of Orally Administered Cannabis Extract and Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol in Treating Patients With Cancer-Related Anorexia-Cachexia Syndrome: A Multicenter, Phase III, Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial From the Cannabis-In-Cachexia-Study-Group


From the Multiple Sclerosis Journal:

Efficacy, safety and tolerability of an orally administered cannabis extract in the treatment of spasticity in patients with multiple sclerosis: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study


From the Journal of Cannabis Therapeutics:

A Phase I, Double Blind, Three-Way Crossover Study to Assess the Pharmacokinetic Profile of CannabisBased Medicine Extract (CBME) Administered Sublingually in Variant Cannabinoid Ratios in Normal Healthy Male Volunteers (GWPK0215)

Source: The Compassion Chronicles


About Author

"Rick Thompson was the Editor in Chief for the entire 2-year run of the Michigan Medical Marijuana Magazine, was the spokesman for the Michigan Association of Compassion Centers and is the current Editor and Lead Blogger for The Compassion Chronicles. Rick has addressed committees in both the House and Senate, has authored over 200 articles on marijuana and is a professional photographer." Rick Thompson Is An Author At The Compassion Chronicles and focuses on all things Michigan.


  1. steven greenwald on

    you tube steven greenwald asa…the canadianmedical association journal from mcgill double blind prospective study for neuropathicpain…very effective!!! steve greenwald 4 california governor 2014

  2. You know the political creedo, when caught redhanded lying DENY DENY DENY and that is exactly what they pass down to all their agencies.

  3. ” I cannot, however, make any guesses about how the SCOTUS will treat
    this appeal. They could rule for immediate rescheduling, but I highly
    doubt it.”

    I agree. The only legal justification for not doing so would be if “arbitrary and capricious” was the legal standard. The rest is pure politics. There is no objective medical or scientific justification for marijuana’s current classification as Schedule One.

  4. The DEA’s position on the existence of these studies is rather like the man on trial for the murder of his parents who begs the judge for mercy because he’s an orphan. These studies do exist and even more of them would except for the DEA’s purely political interference with science and medicine.

  5. I’m not sure whether or not Joe Elford is permitted to do so now that he has already submitted his writ for the reclassification case’s appeal to the SCOTUS, but if he can, I really hope that he includes these with the +200 peer reviewed studies.

    After all, the DEA’s defense and the subsequent 2-1 decision in the DC Circuit Court of Appeals this past January hinged upon there *not being* any Phase II & III human clinical trials that demonstrate the safety and medical efficacy of cannabis. I think the decision specified that FDA approved clinical trials were necessary — which is nonsense. FDA approval would be sufficient proof (at least in the etes of the court) of safety and medical efficacy, but it certainly not *necessary* proof.

    The FDA is not the be-all, end-all of medical research, especially considering tens of thousands of people die each YEAR because of FDA-approved foods and drugs, while there has yet to be a single recorded fatality due to “cannabis poisoning”. The LD50 is so astronomical that you’d need to consume 1500 lbs of cannabis for a lethal dose of THC. To put it into perspective, you would only have to eat a meer 10 lbs of raw potatoes for a lethal dose of the solanine in their skins. Last I checked, potatoes are FDA-approved.

    Thankfully, this only strengthens Mr Elford’s appeal. I cannot, however, make any guesses about how the SCOTUS will treat this appeal. They could rule for immediate rescheduling, but I highly doubt it. They could rule that the current NIDA-DEA monopoly over legal cannabis research is against the law, but that would change little until an entity that *isn’t* in bed with DEA interests is licensed to approve clinical cannabis research.
    They could rule that the DEA has, indeed, acted arbitrarily and capriciously in denying the petition after stalling it for a decade — but I am worried about that, TOO. The original rescheduling petition was a request that an *evidentiary hearing* be held to determine the proper scheduling for cannabis. The DEA denied the petition out of hand, and in court last October, argued there was *not enough evidence* to justify RESCHEDULING — that’s what the argument got bogged down in — when the argument should have been about whether there was enough evidence to justify having or not having an EVIDENTIARY HEARING at which evidence would be weighed.
    I’m certain (I think everyone is certain) that if such a hearing were held, the science would overwhelm any case for prohibition. My worry is that prohibitionists will use these finer legal points to keep cannabis rescheduling from making any headway in the so-called “justice” system by preventing any such hearing from taking place — by simply manipulating the argument from the get-go.
    So it’s entirely possible that Joe Elford could present these clinical trials and *MORE* at the SCOTUS appeal, and it might not make any difference unless he frames the information properly. These clinical trials and the peer review trials are MORE than ample reason to hold an EVIDENTIARY HEARING — and the DEA acted arbitrarily and capriciously in denying the petition. It’s like a judge unfairly demanding a full confession from a suspect *PRIOR* to granting a warrant to search their home for evidence.
    The clinical trials are AWESOME — but they won’t make a difference if the DEA is allowed to keep the rescheduling petition process rigged. The rigging of the process should be what’s argued in court — not the science. The science will have its place once the legal playing field has been leveled fairly.

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