On a subject that is easily sensationalized, this story was measured and analytical in its reporting of a very preliminary study.
For every claim there was a caution.
And an independent perspective delivered caveats and limitations that were important for reader understanding.
Additional treatments for MS symptoms are needed and are an important element in the MS Society 2011-2015 strategic response. Stories about treatments for MS symptoms are going to get a lot of attention from patients and families dealing with that diagnosis. This story was careful, cautious and helpful in explaining a very small, very short-term study. Until this published study, only anecdotal evidence of the benefits of marijuana in MS induced spasticity existed. This study provides the first clinical trial evidence.
Somebody had to pay for the marijuana used in the study. And somebody would have to pay something if it were used therapeutically. A cost estimate would have helped. Not everybody knows this stuff.
Many times a story stops at reporting something like “brought some relief.”
This story explained exactly how the study was conducted, what the measurement scale for improvement was, and what was observed on that scale.
And then it carefully itemized limitations of the study.
The story included the important quote, “We can’t say anything about long-term effects.”
And, short term, the story reported that the study found some patients had fatigue and dizziness.
The story carefully itemized several limitations of the research:
The story could have commented more strongly about the small sample size as well.
No disease-mongering of spasticity of MS.
One independent perspective was used in the story, and it contributed a great deal to the context and balance.
The story explained that the marijuana was used in subjects who had failed to get better with standard medication.
The story explained that some people with MS are already using medical marijuana to treat certain symptoms.
The study briefly referenced past research suggesting that cannabinoid receptors on cells help regulate muscle spasticity.
It’s clear that the story did not rely solely on a news release.