With the results of a medical study summarized by a new report delivered to the California state legislature, the California Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research (CMCR) claims it has established scientific proof that inhaled cannabis holds medical value at or above the level of conventional prescription medicines used for a variety of ailments.

"As a result of the vision and foresight of the California State Legislature Medical Marijuana Research Act

(SB847), the CMCR has successfully conducted the first clinical trials of smoked cannabis in the United

States in more than 20 years," the group said in the study's conclusion summary. "As a result of this program of systematic research, we now have reasonable evidence that cannabis is a promising treatment in selected pain syndromes caused by injury or diseases of the nervous system, and possibly for painful muscle spasticity due to multiple sclerosis."

"Obviously more research will be necessary to elucidate the mechanisms of action and the full therapeutic potential of cannabinoid compounds. Meanwhile, the knowledge and new findings from the CMCR provide a strong science-based context in which policy makers and the public can discuss the place of these compounds in medical care."

"'There is good evidence now that cannabinoids (the active compounds in the marijuana plant) may be either an adjunct or a first-line treatment for … neuropathy,' said Dr. Igor Grant, Director of the CMCR, at a news conference at the state Capitol,'" according to Salem-News. "He added that the efficacy of smoked marijuana was 'very consistent,' and that its pain-relieving effects were 'comparable to the better existing treatments' presently available by prescription."

While the dangers of smoking remain, a study published by the Journal of Pharmeseutical Sciences in 2006 showed that inhaling vapors from the cannabis plant, created by flushing heated air through a small chamber, is a "safe and effective" mode of transmission for the drug.

"The California Legislature established the [CMCR] in 2000 to examine whether the therapeutic claims of medical marijuana advocates could withstand scientific scrutiny," the Associated Press reported. "In 1996, state voters became the first in the nation to pass a law approving pot use for medical purposes."

The study found that cannabis can help ease the pain of neuropathy, migraine headaches and facial pain, AP noted. In tests on rats, a "cannabis-like drug" reportedly reduced nerve cells' pain signals.