- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 28, 2004

CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) — A Clemson University team of researchers is looking at ways to use the medical benefits found in marijuana without getting bogged down in the politics of the drug.

Chemist John Huffman is leading the team, working on synthetic versions of the substances.

Marijuana can be smoked legitimately for medical benefits, including relief of pain and nausea from a variety of ailments, in 11 states. But three years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the drug is subject to federal anti-narcotic laws.

Mr. Huffman and his team have been working for 20 years on federally funded research into cannabinoids, the chemicals in marijuana that confer its potency.

“The goal of our research is to try to define the detailed chemical structure of compounds as it relates to their biological activity,” he said.

One piece of the puzzle is THC, which is available as Marinol for treatment of nausea or to stimulate appetite in AIDS patients. But it causes a high, which many users find uncomfortable.

“THC is the most effective anti-nausea drug there is, and other than the effect that it causes a high, it has relatively few side effects,” Mr. Huffman said.

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