Posts Tagged ‘ucsf’
Angel Raich is busy dying. The famous marijuana activist – who took the federal government to the Supreme Court of the United States for the right to use medical cannabis – was, earlier this year diagnosed with an inoperable terminal brain tumor, a condition that causes frequent seizures as well as constant pain and headaches.
Told by her doctors at the University of California-San Francisco that she should prepare to die, that’s what Raich, 46, is doing, one day at a time — with purpose as well as dignity.
Except for Monday night, when she was summarily removed from the hospital at UCSF’s Parnassus campus for using marijuana,according to NBC Bay Area – which showed up for an interview that was cut short when Raich had a seizure and had to be rushed to a (different) hospital.
Now might be a good time to mention UCSF also happens to be one of the nation’s teaching hospitals that researches marijuana’s efficacy in treating cancer and pain.
View more videos at: http://nbcbayarea.com.
Raich has lived with her brain tumor for some time, but earlier this year she was diagnosed with radiation necrosis, a complication from radiotherapy.
Details are scant, but it appears Raich was at UCSF for tests and was using marijuana via a vaporizer at the Parnassus campus when someone — a doctor or a pharmacist — took offense, and told Raich that they’d “call the Feds” unless she stopped using marijuana.
“The pharmacist said, you can’t use cannabis in this hospital,” Raich told the television station. “That’s a death sentence.”
Berkeley-based Dr. Frank Lucido, Raich’s primary care physician, says that Raich needs to use marijuana every two waking hours, and denying her the drug amounts to “malpractice,” according to a statement on Raich’s website. “Angel will suffer imminent harm without access to cannabis.”
Television viewers saw exactly what Lucido is talking about, as Raich suffered a seizure during her brief interview with NBC. Raich was then taken to St. Mary’s Hospital on Stanyan Street, according to NBC.
In a statement, UCSF said that their hospital is “a smoke-free campus and this includes medical marijuana.”
“Any particles from vapor and odor could have an impact on other patients and hospital employees,” the statement read. “Under federal and state law, a physician is at legal risk related to any activity that could be construed as prescribing medical marijuana to a patient.”
Raich gained national fame as the medical marijuana patient who took the federal government to the United States Supreme Court for the right to use medical marijuana. Her husband at the time, Oakland-based attorney Robert Raich, was one of the attorneys who argued that state law should supplant federal law, and that seriously ill Californians such as Raich have rights under the Constitution to use marijuana for medical purposes.
The Rehnquist Court disagreed, with the majority saying that the Commerce Clause gives Congress the right to ban marijuana for medical use, state law be damned. Justices Sandra Day O’Connor and Clarence Thomas joined Rehnquist, who died later that year, in supporting Raich.
Raich sued the government after DEA agents raided in 2002 a Butte County residence that housed six pot plants that provided Raich with her medicine.
It’s worth mentioning that Raich is currently involved in yet another Supreme Court case, though not one you might expect. Raich filed an amicus brief in support of the lawsuit filed by the state of Florida which seeks to overturn Obamacare. Oral arguments in that case, Florida v. United States Department of Health and Human Services, are scheduled to begin later this month.
Details on Raich’s current condition, and exactly what happened at UCSF were not available as of Tuesday. We’ll update this post as soon as we know more.
Courtesy of the Associated Press
Smoking a joint once a week or a bit more apparently doesn’t harm the lungs, suggests a 20-year study that bolsters evidence that marijuana doesn’t do the kind of damage tobacco does.
The results, from one of the largest and longest studies on the health effects of marijuana, are hazier for heavy users – those who smoke two or more joints daily for several years. The data suggest that using marijuana that often might cause a decline in lung function, but there weren’t enough heavy users among the 5,000 young adults in the study to draw firm conclusions.
Still, the authors recommended “caution and moderation when marijuana use is considered.”
Marijuana is an illegal drug under federal law although some states allow its use for medical purposes.
The study by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, and the University of Alabama at Birmingham was released Tuesday by the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The findings echo results in some smaller studies that showed while marijuana contains some of the same toxic chemicals as tobacco, it does not carry the same risks for lung disease.
It’s not clear why that is so, but it’s possible that the main active ingredient in marijuana, a chemical known as THC, makes the difference. THC causes the “high” that users feel. It also helps fight inflammation and may counteract the effects of more irritating chemicals in the drug, said Dr. Donald Tashkin, a marijuana researcher and an emeritus professor of medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles. Tashkin was not involved in the new study.
Study co-author Dr. Stefan Kertesz said there are other aspects of marijuana that may help explain the results.
Unlike cigarette smokers, marijuana users tend to breathe in deeply when they inhale a joint, which some researchers think might strengthen lung tissue. But the common lung function tests used in the study require the same kind of deep breathing that marijuana smokers are used to, so their good test results might partly reflect lots of practice, said Kertesz, a drug abuse researcher and preventive medicine specialist at the Alabama university.
The study authors analyzed data from participants in a 20-year federally funded health study in young adults that began in 1985. Their analysis was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
The study randomly enrolled 5,115 men and women aged 18 through 30 in four cities: Birmingham, Chicago, Oakland, Calif., and Minneapolis. Roughly equal numbers of blacks and whites took part, but no other minorities. Participants were periodically asked about recent marijuana or cigarette use and had several lung function tests during the study.
Overall, about 37 percent reported at least occasional marijuana use, and most users also reported having smoked cigarettes; 17 percent of participants said they’d smoked cigarettes but not marijuana. Those results are similar to national estimates.
On average, cigarette users smoked about 9 cigarettes daily, while average marijuana use was only a joint or two a few times a month – typical for U.S. marijuana users, Kertesz said.
The authors calculated the effects of tobacco and marijuana separately, both in people who used only one or the other, and in people who used both. They also considered other factors that could influence lung function, including air pollution in cities studied.
The analyses showed pot didn’t appear to harm lung function, but cigarettes did. Cigarette smokers’ test scores worsened steadily during the study. Smoking marijuana as often as one joint daily for seven years, or one joint weekly for 20 years was not linked with worse scores. Very few study participants smoked more often than that.
Like cigarette smokers, marijuana users can develop throat irritation and coughs, but the study didn’t focus on those. It also didn’t examine lung cancer, but other studies haven’t found any definitive link between marijuana use and cancer.