Clinical trials are very important to understand and test the effectiveness of the medicinal power of marijuana, or any drug for that matter. These clinical trials should be intended to remove the effects of both the patients’ and the researchers’ expectations on the outcome of the trial. Patients need to be placed in treatment groups in a manner that any potential biases in the results are taken out.
Patients who try an experimental anti-nausea drug with preconceived assumption that it is effective are more inclined to experience relief after taking the prescribed medicine than those patients who do not know whether the pill contains active compound – an occurrence called the placebo effect. In the same manner, having the knowledge that a patient was given the drug or a placebo would also have an influence on a researcher’s assessment of that patient. It is for this reason that a number of clinical studies are customized to be double blind which means neither the researcher nor the patient has an idea on the prescription that the patient has taken.
A satisfactory quality clinical trial as well integrates controls for some other factors that are unconnected to the drug being put to test but could affect the outcome of the treatment. The THC, for example decreases anxiety in other people to the point that they are mistakenly believed to have caused symptoms of patients to improve. The reality however is that although reducing anxiety may be a significant way of treatment for a number of patients, it also hinders the attempts to find out whether THC actually relieves a specific symptom. It is for this reason that triumphant clinical trials should do away with this influence by putting in comparison the effect of THC on a specific symptom with a drug that is popular in reducing anxiety but not the particular symptom that is studied.
Clinical trials such as randomized, controlled, and double-blind may be the most excellent way to assess a drug’s effectiveness; however, these trials do not always seem to be feasible. Say for example in excluded experimental drug trials, women of childbearing age, the elderly, and children are often excluded yet other patients in these age groups still receive prescription medications. To address this situation, medical scientists oftentimes implement single-patients trials wherein individuals, which include patients coming from vulnerable populations, are being treated successively with various medications or are taking alternating doses of a drug under experiment as well as a placebo. Single-patient trials can actually allow purposeful comparisons and contrasts between treatments although it may be limited in scope.
Scientists’ initial attempts to assess the effectiveness and safety of cannabinoid and marijuana drugs in the treatment of patients may be limited to studies on premises that marijuana has been oftentimes thought of to help in ailments such as AIDS, muscular spasticity, cancer, and pain. Although other reports may be anecdotal in nature, there are still many various disorders that share symptoms of nausea, muscle spasms, and pain, hence, the possibility of different patients who may be aided by medicines produced from marijuana.
All of these clinical trials that will be discussed in the succeeding sections have a common feature – they are designed to assess whether cannabinoids or marijuana can progress specific symptoms and not whether medicines based form marijuana can treat disease and although marijuana’s potential efficacy seems to be limited to alleviating discomfort, some evidence shows that it can give ease to some other patient.
Mack, Alison, Joy, Janet. “Front Matter.” Marijuana As Medicine?: The Science Beyond the Controversy. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2000.