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Harvard's Grinspoon and Bakalar Urge Physicians to "Reconsider" Medical Uses for Marijuana


September 1995

In a commentary for the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), Harvard's Dr. Lester Grinspoon and James Bakalar make a plea for physicians to rethink the issue of medical marijuana (Lester Grinspoon, MD and James B. Bakalar, JD, "Marihuana as Medicine: A Plea for Reconsideration," JAMA, June 21, 1995, p. 1875-6).

The commentary gives a brief overview of the history of the medical use of marijuana, including the institution of the Individual Treatment IND, or the Compassionate IND, in 1976, which allowed doctors to prescribe government-produced marijuana cigarettes to patients with certain conditions. The program was officially discontinued in March of 1992. Only eight patients are still alive who receive prescribed marijuana through the program.

"We are not asking readers for immediate agreement with our affirmation that marihuana is medically useful," Grinspoon and Bakalar wrote, "but we hope they will do more to encourage open and legal exploration of its potential. The ostensible indifference of physicians should no longer be used as a justification for keeping this medicine in the shadows."

Publication of the commentary was noted in a story on the front page of USA Today (Michael Lasalandra, "Harvard Profs Boost Bid to Legalize Pot as Medicine," USA Today, June 25, 1995, p. 1).

[A free copy of the commentary is available from the Network.]