Federal Study Concludes That Marijuana’s Main Active Ingredient Does Not Cause Cancer

The main active ingredient in marijuana (THC) did not cause cancer when fed to laboratory animals in huge doses over long periods, according to a federal study recently publicized by The Boston Globe. The $2 million dollar study had been left on the shelf for over two years.

“This study’s findings undercuts the federal government’s contention that marijuana itself is carcinogenic,” said NORML’s Deputy Director Allen St. Pierre. “It is ridiculous that such a report has failed to see the light of day until now.

According to The Boston Globe, the 126-page draft study has never been published, though a panel of expert reviewers found in June 1994 that its scientific methods and conclusions were sound. “We found absolutely no evidence of cancer,” John Butcher, director of the National Toxicology Program, told The Globe in reference to the study. Surprisingly, Butcher said that THC may even have protected against malignancies.

In the study, high doses of THC were delivered directly into the stomachs of mice and rats daily for two years. Since the animals were not exposed to marijuana smoke, the study did not address the carcinogenic potential of inhaled marijuana.

Butcher told The Boston Globe that his agency had not been pressured to bury the report, and said the delay was due to a personnel shortage.

For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre of NORML at (202) 483-5500 or Attorney Steve Epstein of Mass/CANN NORML at (617) 599-3161.