Oral delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) demonstrated an antiemetic effect in cancer patients receiving various chemo-therapeutic ag~:ui.s. In a cross-over study, THC was signifi~antly hetter than placebo in reducing vomiting associated with chemotherapy. Most of the patients had been refractory to conventional antiemetics. Each course ofTHC (10mg/m2 /dose) or placebo consisted of 3 doses- the first was taken 2 hours before, and the other 2 were taken at 2 and 6 hours after administration of the chemotherapeutic agent. In 14 of 20 courses of THC, vomiting was decreased by at least 50% compared to placebo. An antiemetic effect was observed in none of the 22 courses of placebo. No patient vomited while experiencing a subjective 'high' after THC. In some patients, as the 'high' wore off, nausea and vomiting occurred. Perhaps by adjusting dosage schedules, it may be possible to maintain antiemetic activity. Theoretically, smoking marijuana may be preferable to oral THC because it would avoid variability in gastro-intestinal absorption and would allow the patient greater control in regulating the dose.
Sallan, S.E. eta!.: New England Journal ofMedicaine 293: 795 (16 Oct 1975)