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Р€1m MS cannabis trial begins

Participants in a Р€1million clinical trial looking at the effects of cannabis on multiple sclerosis sufferers have this week been given their first dose of the drug.

Twenty recruits have begun the tests at Derriford Hospital in Plymouth where researchers are conducting a three-year study to see if cannabis helps to relieve the symptoms of the debilitating condition.

Until now smaller-scale studies have used chemical components of cannabis but this is the first time a clinical trial has given the drug itself to patients.

The study will be the biggest of its kind in the world once it is fully under way.

The 20 recruits are part of the initial stage of the research. A third has been given capsules containing cannabis oil, another third is taking tetra hydro cannabinol, which is believed to be one of the most active ingredients in cannabis, and the rest is being given a placebo.

The 20 MS sufferers will be closely monitored over the next three months before the study is rolled across the country to include 660 participants in 40 different centres.

Dr Patrick Fox, research registrar said the start of the trials was a major milestone.

"It is an important week for us because now we will begin to get an idea of people's tolerance to cannabis," he said. "We will be able to see if there are any side effects that might be a problem."

Participants had been advised not to drive during the trials and warned of some possible side effects.

"It is possible people may experience a feeling of euphoria, particularly on the high doses," said Dr Fox.

"But we hope that it may be possible to establish a dose that provides a beneficial effect without leaving people feeling high or stoned."


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