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Study: Pot Helps Hepatitis Treatment

Josh Richman, The Oakland Tribune, 14th September 2006

Medical marijuana users are more likely to finish Hepatitis C treatment and so are more likely to be cured, according to a newly published study conducted in San Francisco and Oakland.

Other studies have shown marijuana relieves symptoms, but medical marijuana advocates said this could be the first to show improved cure rates for a life-threatening illness.

The study � authored by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco and the Oakland-based Organization to Achieve Solutions in Substance Abuse (OASIS), and published in the European Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology � found marijuana users being treated for HCV were three times more likely to have a "sustained virological response," meaning the virus can't be detected six months after treatment ends.

HCV treatment with ribavirin and interferon causes severe side effects such as nausea, vomiting, weight loss, sleeplessness and depression, causing many patients to quit the long regimen too early. Of 71 HCV patients studied, 21 finished with a sustained virological response: 12 of the 22 cannabis users and nine of the 49 non-users.

"Modest cannabis use may offer symptomatic and virological benefit to some patients...by helping them maintain adherence to the challenging medication regimen," the study concluded.

Rob Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project in Washington, D.C., issued a news release touting this as "a landmark study, showing that medical marijuana can literally save lives. Every day that our government continues punishing the sick for using this medicine is literally a crime against humanity."

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