Medical Marijuana Proponents Growing Anxious Over Delay In Release Of NIH Report

A major delay in the release of a promised report from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) regarding the medical potential of marijuana and recommendations for future research has proponents crying foul and demanding answers.

Following a two day NIH workshop on medical marijuana held this past February, a panel of researchers assembled by the agency estimated that there exists sufficient evidence that marijuana has medical potential in the treatment of serious illnesses such as spasticity disorders, AIDS wasting syndrome, glaucoma, and the nausea associated with cancer chemotherapy. Many experts, such as panel chairman William T. Beaver of Georgetown University School of Medicine, called on the federal government to approve future clinical trials to better determine marijuana’s therapeutic value when compared to conventional medicines. NIH officials announced that a detailed report recommending a course of action would be completed within four weeks.

That report remains delayed indefinitely, according to comments made on May 20 by a NIH spokesperson.

“Footdragging is the rule of the day at the federal level,” said Dave Fratello, spokesman for Americans for Medical Rights. “Had the NIH report come out roughly on time, researchers could begin designing studies now because they would know what NIH wants to see. Instead, we’re talking about months before anyone hears anything useful. Then how long is it until someone can design a protocol, then apply to NIH, then begin the study?”

“Although Drug Czar Barry McCaffrey, National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) director Alan Leshner, and others have stated publicly that the federal government is open to medical marijuana research, the unacceptable delay in the release of this report demonstrates otherwise,” announced Allen St. Pierre, executive director of The NORML Foundation. “When you have thousands of seriously ill Americans already using medical marijuana, and thousands more who could benefit from its use, it is unforgivable for the federal government to stonewall this issue.”

For more information, please contact either Dave Fratello of Americans for Medical Rights at (310) 394-2952 or Allen St. Pierre of The NORML Foundation at (202) 483-8751.