The purpose of the Center is to coordinate rigorous scientific studies to assess the safety and efficacy of cannabis and cannabis compounds for treating medical conditions. The funding of the CMCR is the result of SB 847 (Vasconcellos), passed by the State Legislature and signed into law by Governor Gray Davis. The legislation calls for a three year program overseeing objective, high quality medical research that will "enhance understanding of the efficacy and adverse effects of marijuana as a pharmacological agent," stressing that the project "should not be construed as encouraging or sanctioning the social or recreational use of marijuana" (SB 847).
The Center coordinates and supports cannabis research throughout the State of California. Research will focus on the potential medicinal benefits of cannabis for diseases and conditions as specified by the National Academy of Sciences, Institute of Medicine Report (1999) and by the Workshop on the Medical Utility of Marijuana, National Institutes of Health (1997). The following diseases and conditions constitute areas of emphasis for current CMCR funding:
The Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research (CMCR) at the University of California was created in 2000
to conduct clinical and pre-clinical studies of cannabinoids, including smoked marijuana, to provide
evidence one way or the other to answer the question “Does marijuana have therapeutic value?” To
accomplish this objective, the CMCR issued calls for applications from researchers at leading California
institutions, developed a close working relationship with state and federal agencies to gain regulatory
approvals, established panels of nationally-recognized experts to rigorously review the merit of applications, and funded carefully designed studies that have now been published in high impact scientific
journals, making significant contributions to the available literature on cannabis and the cannabinoids.
As a result of the vision and foresight of the California State Legislature Medical Marijuana Research Act
(SB847), the CMCR has successfully conducted the first clinical trials of smoked cannabis in the United
States in more than 20 years. As a result of this program of systematic research, we now have reasonable evidence that cannabis is a promising treatment in selected pain syndromes caused by injury or
diseases of the nervous system, and possibly for painful muscle spasticity due to multiple sclerosis.
Obviously more research will be necessary to elucidate the mechanisms of action and the full therapeutic potential of cannabinoid compounds. Meanwhile, the knowledge and new findings from the CMCR
provide a strong science-based context in which policy makers and the public can discuss the place of
these compounds in medical care.
Recent advances in understanding of the mode of action of tetrahydrocannabinol and related cannabinoid in-gredients of marijuana, plus the accumulating anecdotal reports on potential medical benefits have spurred increasing re-search into possible medicinal uses of cannabis. Recent clinical trials with smoked and vaporized marijuana, as well as other botanical extracts indicate the likelihood that the cannabinoids can be useful in the management of neuropathic pain, spasticity due to multiple sclerosis, and possibly other indications. As with all medications, benefits and risks need to be weighed in recommending cannabis to patients. CMRC presents an algorithm that may be useful to physicians in determining whether cannabis might be recommended as a treatment in jurisdictions where such use is permitted.