As an issue on the cusp of science and social policy, the value of marijuana in medicine refuses to go away. For several years, researchers wishing to undertake clinical trials of marijuana's medical effects on humans have claimed that the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are stonewalling by insisting that the protocols are unacceptable. Those organizations complain that several proponents of clinical trials have failed to understand the complexity of the issue and have been unwilling to change their protocols. ONDCP has warned physicians in states whose voters have approved initiatives that back the concept of prescribing marijuana for medical purposes that they risk losing their licenses if they follow that advice.

A new report from the Institute of Medicine should define the issue more tightly.1 It may also stimulate clinical...

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