You are in Medical

Views and opinions

An ever increasing number of health-related organisations, government-commissioned reports and experts are endorsing the use of cannabis for medical purposes. In addition, in almost every recent public poll the general public have shown that they too are in favour of allowing medical users to treat their diseases in their chosen, effective way. A tiny fraction of these are shown below.

Views from the UK

The Royal Society

The Royal Society and the Academy of Medical Sciences have prepared a document in July '98, entitled The Use of Cannabis and its Derivatives for Medical and Recreational Purposes which forms their joint submission to the House of Lords Science and Technology Select Committee enquiry. The document summarises the evidence for medical cannabis and concludes that the current medical data is insufficient to support the medical prescribing of cannabis as yet, because of the psychoactive and physiological side-effects and the evidence that tolerance and mild dependence can occur. They do not support smoking cannabis for medical purposes because smoke from herbal cannabis contains toxic substances similar to those from cigarette smoke. However they call for controlled clinical trials and laboratory research be conducted with cannabinoids, including isolated single components of cannabis (e.g. THC), extracts of herbal cannabis, as well as selective CB1 and CB2 compounds.

British Medical Association

In November '97 the BMA released an 80 page report entitled, Therapeutic Uses of Cannabis (Harwood Academic Publishers, 11.99, ISBN 90 5702 3180), which calls on the government to make cannabis derivatives more widely available on prescription, and to allow research into the medical effects of herbal cannabis. It contains a review of all the available research literature and is an essential purchase for campaigners, patients and doctors. To order a copy phone 0171 383 6244/6638 or you can order it through major medical bookstores.

The BMA also have a "panel" of more than 150 doctors, who are regularly consulted on various issues, with the results published in their journal. In February '94, 74% of them believed that cannabis should be available on prescription.

The House of Lords

The House of Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology released their Ninth Report, considering medical usages of cannabis. After reviewing the evidence the called for clinical trials of cannabis for the treatment of MS and chronic pain to take place 'as a matter of urgency'. The also requested research into delivery methods of cannabis and cannabinoids other than via smoking. They also wished to see cannabis moved from Schedule 1 of the Misuse of Drugs regulations to Schedule 2, thus allowing doctors to prescribe it. Minutes of evidence taken before the Select Committeeon Science and Technology, 7th February 2001

General Practitioners

This mirrored the findings of a survey carried out by Channel 4 in March '95, when 70% of doctors thought cannabis should be available on prescription. Presidents of the Royal Medical Colleges

The heads of the medical royal colleges were surveyed by the Observer in May '94. All nine respondents thought there should be more research into medical cannabis, 6 of them thought that cannabis should be available on prescription, and 3 thought that cannabis should be decriminalised for recreational purposes too. The president of the Royal College of Anaesthestists went further. Professor Spence thinks that cannabis should be totally legal, so that research can be carried out.

General Public
In early November '95, an incredible 98% of callers to a phone in poll during The Time, The Place TV program supported medical cannabis.

In March '95 a survey carried out by the Independent found 70% of the population in favour of medical cannabis

Views from abroad

Federation of American Scientists

The Federation of American Scientists (FAS) wants the US government to allow and carry out research on the medical cannabis issue, and it wants them to do it quickly. The ACT press release about FAS' petition of November 94 is availiable here.

National Nurses Society on Addictions
The US National Nurses Society on Addictions (NNSA) wants the government to make cannabis availiable on prescription, supports all research and urges the American Nurses Association and other health care professional organisations to support patient access to the medicine. Their position paper was approved in May '95.

California Medical Association

The California Medical Association have endorsed the prescriptive use of cannabis for the treatment of "life-threatening and sense-threatening diseases including AIDS, cancer and glaucoma".

36 US states have passed legislation recognising the therapeutic potential of cannabis. Unfortunately the US federal government laws prevent these laws from having any effect.

Virginia Nurses Association

The US Virginia Nurses Association (VNA) was the first nurses association to support medical cannabis. At their October '94 meeting they resolved to support "all reasonable efforts" to make cannabis availiable for legitimate medical uses, to educate Virginia's nurses about the therapeutic uses of marijuana and the government prohibition of its use, to encourage other professional bodies to support medical cannabis and to submit similar resolutions to the American Nurses Association. Online you can find the VNA's position paper, a copy of the resolution and the ACT press release about it.

Finnish Medical Association

A Swedish-language newspaper published in Finland, Hufvudstadsbladet, reported on 24 October, 1998: "The doctors are not encouraging cannabis use, but are presenting a more nuanced picture. It was also said yesterday that cannabis has possible therapeutic effects in the treatment of cancer and HIV - it can possibly reduce pain and feelings of nausea."

The US Institutes of Medicine

The IOM produced a length report in 1999 entitled Marijuana and medicine - Assessing the science base. They reviewed lots of scientific evidence as to cannabis' medical possibilities, finding a great deal of potential cannabis-based treatments for various diseases. They recommended further clinical trials should take place for various symptoms, with a view to finding a rapid, safe delivery system. In the mean time, despite being somewhat undesirable in their opinion, they recommended short-term used of smoked marijuana, under the following conditions:

  • failure of all approved medications to provide relief has been documented;
  • the symptoms can reasonably be expected to be relieved by rapid-onset cannabinoid drugs;
  • such treatment is administered under medical supervision in a manner that allows for assessment of treatment effectiveness;
  • and involves an oversight strategy comparable to an institutional review board process that could provide guidance within 24 hours of a submission by a physician to provide marijuana to a patient for a specified use.
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