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Marijuana may ease multiple sclerosis symptoms


5 Star


Marijuana may ease multiple sclerosis symptoms

Our Review Summary

For every claim there was a caution.

And an independent perspective delivered caveats and limitations that were important for reader understanding.


Why This Matters

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.



Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

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.

Does the story adequately quantify the benefits of the treatment/test/product/procedure?


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.

Does the story adequately explain/quantify the harms of the intervention?


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.

Does the story seem to grasp the quality of the evidence?


The story carefully itemized several limitations of the research:

  • “blinding” issues and the quote “It’s pretty clear that the patients were not really blinded.  What effects that might have had on the results is unclear.”
  • effects studied over only a few days.

The story could have commented more strongly about the small sample size as well.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?


No disease-mongering of spasticity of MS.

Does the story use independent sources and identify conflicts of interest?


One independent perspective was used in the story, and it contributed a great deal to the context and balance.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?


The story explained that the marijuana was used in subjects who had failed to get better with standard medication.

Does the story establish the availability of the treatment/test/product/procedure?


The story explained that some people with MS are already using medical marijuana to treat certain symptoms.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?


The study briefly referenced past research suggesting that cannabinoid receptors on cells help regulate muscle spasticity.

Does the story appear to rely solely or largely on a news release?


It’s clear that the story did not rely solely on a news release.

Total Score: 9 of 10 Satisfactory


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