Pot Versus the 'Superbug'

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According to the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, colloquially known as MRSA or “the superbug,” is now responsible for more annual US deaths than AIDS. Yet despite this sobering statistic, it’s unlikely that either JAMA or anyone in the mainstream US media will report on the findings of a forthcoming Italian study — you didn’t actually think I was going to say that this took place in America did you? — demonstrating that compounds in cannabis possess “exceptional antibacterial activity” against multi-drug resistant pathogens, including MRSA.

“Although the use of cannabinoids as systemic antibacterial agents awaits rigorous clinical trials, … their topical application to reduce skin colonization by MRSA seems promising,” the study’s authors write. “Cannabis sativa … represents an interesting source of antibacterial agents to address the problem of multidrug resistance in MRSA and other pathogenic bacteria.”

(You can read the full text ahead of publication here.)

Ironically, the study notes that preparations from cannabis were “investigated extensively in the 1950s as highly active topical antiseptic agents.” Predictably — in yet another “victory” for prohibition — authors declare that little, if any, research into this potential clinical application has taken place since.

Several years ago, when I first began writing the booklet Emerging Clinical Applications for Cannabis and Cannabinoids, I mused about what sort of advancements in the treatment of disease may have been achieved over the past 70+ years had U.S. government chosen to advance — rather than stifle — clinical research into the therapeutic effects of cannabis.

Now, more than ever, this is a question that our elected officials must be forced to answer.

Paul Armentano [send him mail] is the senior policy analyst for NORML and the NORML Foundation in Washington, DC. He is the author of "Emerging Clinical Applications for Cannabis and Cannabinoids: A Review of the Scientific Literature" (2007, NORML Foundation).

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