Sidebar : Two Efforts To Tackle Medical Marijuana Issues

A MEDICINAL HERB? NIH may soon be looking into the therapeutic effects of marijuana as consensus grows among scientists that such studies are worth doing.
Few areas of science policy are as politicized as the debate over the therapeutic benefits of marijuana. The federal government historically has been reluctant to acknowledge that the drug has medicinal value. Initiatives passed last November in Arizona and California legalizing marijuana prescribed for medical purposes, however, have forced the National Institutes of Health to rethink the issue. Next month, a panel of eight medical researchers (see story on page 6) will send recommendations on possible studies of medical marijuana to NIH director Harold Varmus for review.

There is a rationale for looking further into the therapeutic effects of marijuana, stated panel chairman William Beaver, a professor of pharmacology at Georgetown University, at a...

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