Three years after the publication of the study of the Institute of Medicine on medical marijuana, several critical reports on the same subject were released by other groups of scientific and medical experts. While these reports were written for different purpose, it all reached the same general conclusions that marijuana can be moderately effective in the management of a variety of symptoms and that more research on the medical use of marijuana is needed.
In 1996, the Health Council of the Netherlands published a report of its study which concluded the insufficiency of evidence to justify medical use of marijuana or THC, despite its approval as medicine in the United States (in the form of dronabinol) and in Britain (in the form of nabilone). It is worth noting, however, that the Health Council did not address the question of whether enough evidence exists to justify clinical trials of marijuana-based medicine. They were asked to determine whether marijuana or cannabinoids merit prescription it its current form. And although they answered that question with a “no”, the Health Council noted that hospitals in the Netherlands tolerate the use of marijuana among patients with terminal illnesses.
While most of the reports addressed the importance of finding smokeless delivery systems for cannabinoid medications, many agreed with the IOM that clinical trials of smoked marijuana is needed until researchers develop safer methods to administer cannabinoids. Along with the IOM, the American Medical Association House of Delegates, the National Institutes of Health, and the British Medical Association have proposed clinical trials of smoked marijuana for the same variety of symptoms.
The British Medical Association, though finding marijuana itself as “unsuitable for medical practice” has, nonetheless recommended that drug regulations be revised and amended to facilitate research on marijuana. The British House of Lords, on the other hand, has concluded that British doctors should be allowed to prescribe marijuana preparations until the smokeless versions have been developed. Only the National Institutes of Health report recommends clinical studies of marijuana for the treatment of glaucoma.