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Columbia University Study: Marijuana Benefits HIV-Positive Patients

Columbia University Study: Marijuana Benefits HIV-Positive Patients

Posted by Marijuana Doctors on 10/26/2011 in Medical Marijuana Studies

Study: Dronabinol and Marijuana in HIV-Positive Marijuana Smokers: Caloric Intake, Mood, and Sleep

Published: JAIDS Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes: 15 August 2007 – Volume 45 – Issue 5 – pp 545-554

Authors: Haney, Margaret PhD*; Gunderson, Erik W MD*; Rabkin, Judith PhD*; Hart, Carl L PhD*†; Vosburg, Suzanne K PhD*; Comer, Sandra D PhD*; Foltin, Richard W PhD* (From the *Division on Substance Abuse, New York State Psychiatric Institute, and Department of Psychiatry, College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University, New York, NY; and †Department of Psychology, Columbia University, New York, NY.)

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Summary

In 2007, researchers from Columbia University studied the effects of both smoked marijuana and dronabinol (a synthetic form of THC taken orally by pill) on the largest patient group using cannabis for medical reasons: those who are HIV positive. The results of the study concluded that both dronabinol (at doses 8 times current recommendations) and marijuana were well tolerated and produced substantial and comparable increases in food intake.

Abstract

Objectives: Individuals with HIV constitute the largest group using cannabinoids for medicinal reasons; yet, no studies have directly compared the tolerability and efficacy of smoked marijuana and oral dronabinol maintenance in HIV-positive marijuana smokers. This placebo-controlled within-subjects study evaluated marijuana and dronabinol across a range of behaviors: eating topography, mood, cognitive performance, physiologic measures, and sleep.

Methods: HIV-positive marijuana smokers (n = 10) completed 2 16-day inpatient phases. Each dronabinol (5 and 10 mg) and marijuana (2.0% and 3.9% Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol [THC]) dose was administered 4 times daily for 4 days, but only 1 drug was active per day, thereby maintaining double-blind dosing. Four days of placebo washout separated each active cannabinoid condition.

Results: As compared with placebo, marijuana and dronabinol dose dependently increased daily caloric intake and body weight in HIV-positive marijuana smokers. All cannabinoid conditions produced significant intoxication, except for low-dose dronabinol (5 mg); the intoxication was rated positively (eg, good drug effect) with little evidence of discomfort and no impairment of cognitive performance. Effects of marijuana and dronabinol were comparable, except that only marijuana (3.9% THC) improved ratings of sleep.

Conclusions: These data suggest that for HIV-positive marijuana smokers, both dronabinol (at doses 8 times current recommendations) and marijuana were well tolerated and produced substantial and comparable increases in food intake.

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