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June 8, 1979

Marijuana may lessen spasticity of MS

JAMA. 1979;241(23):2476. doi:10.1001/jama.1979.03290490006004

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An active ingredient in the smoke of marijuana, when used at doses below those that produce psychological effects, reduces spasticity in some patients with multiple sclerosis.

"We tested the effect of δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) because several of our multiple sclerosis patients said that smoking marijuana improved their spasticity," neurologist Carl Ellenberger, MD, told the American Academy of Neurology meeting in Chicago.

Ellenberger, assistant professor of medicine at the Hershey Medical Center of Pennsylvania State University, conducted the study with Denis Petro, MD, formerly a resident in neurology and now with the Bureau of Drugs of the Food and Drug Administration, which furnished the THC.

Nine patients were given a capsule containing either gelatin or 5 or 10 mg of THC. Prior to this they were examined for spasticity of leg movements by standard neurological criteria, such as resistance to passive stretch, knee and ankle jerk, and presence of deep-tendon