in preparing the final version of the document. Entitled Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base, the final report was released in March 1999. The report was subsequently published as a clothbound book by the National Academy Press; it can also be viewed on the Press's web site.

At the time of its release, the study received considerable attention from the news media. For example, the next week more than 50 U.S. newspapers carried stories on the study. While many of the articles reflected the balanced nature of the report's findings, most of the headlines—which tend to stick in readers' minds—gave the impression that the IOM had fully endorsed the medical use of marijuana. Scores of editorials followed suit, including several expressing uncritical acceptance of marijuana as a medicine.

In fact, the IOM researchers found little reason to recommend crude marijuana as a medicine, particularly when smoked, but they did conclude that active ingredients in marijuana could be developed into a variety of promising pharmaceuticals. Responding to the report's call for clinical trials on such marijuana-based medications, the National Institutes of Health and the Canadian equivalent of that agency, Health Canada, subsequently announced new policies intended to encourage medical research on marijuana (see Chapter 11).

While the IOM report was directed at policymakers, the purpose of this book is to present the main findings of that study for use by anyone who wants unbiased, scientifically sound medical information on marijuana. To adapt the IOM's publication for a general audience, considerable technical detail has been removed and in-depth explanations added of several key studies reviewed in the original report. For studies discussed in detail, references are provided in the form of footnotes. When the results of a group of studies are summarized, readers are referred to the relevant pages of the IOM report for more information and complete references. In a few instances, where more recent survey data became available after the IOM report was published, the most current information is used.

This book is divided into three parts, each of which offers a different perspective on marijuana as medicine. Along with this introduction, Chapter 2 and Chapter 3 lay out the scientific and historical



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement