Last updated on: 2/5/2009 | Author:

US Government Reports on Medical Marijuana

Detailed below are the conclusions of the four most exhaustive U.S.-government sponsored reports on marijuana. We have excerpted a portion of each report’s conclusion that most concisely summarizes the report’s findings. Quotes are verbatim, including their use of bolding.

We have provided a hyperlinked description of each government group or committee so readers can learn more about the reports’ origins, purpose, make-up, etc.




Government Report (Year)



Excerpts from Reports’ Conclusions



Full Text of Conclusion


Congressional Research Service



Summary: The issue before Congress is whether to continue the federal prosecution of medical marijuana patients and their providers, in accordance with the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA), or whether to relax federal marijuana prohibition enough to permit the medicinal use of botanical cannabis products when recommended by a physician, especially where permitted under state law.

Two bills that have been introduced in recent Congresses are expected to be reintroduced in the 110th Congress: The States’ Rights to Medical Marijuana Act would move marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule II of the Controlled Substances Act and make it available under federal law for medical use in the states with medical marijuana programs, and the Steve McWilliams Truth in Trials Act would make it possible for defendants in federal court to reveal to juries that their marijuana activity was medically related and legal under state law.

Twelve states, mostly in the West, have enacted laws allowing the use of marijuana for medical purposes, and many thousands of patients are seeking relief from a variety of serious illnesses by smoking marijuana or using other herbal cannabis preparations. Meanwhile, the federal Drug Enforcement Administration refuses to recognize these state laws and continues to investigate and arrest, under federal statute, medical marijuana providers and users in those states and elsewhere.”


[Editor’s Note: This report referenced Medical Marijuana four times, including one blurb stating:“, a nonprofit and nonpartisan publication education foundation, has identified 21 national public opinion polls that asked questions about medical marijuana from 1995 to the present. Respondents in every poll were in favor of medical marijuana by substantial margins, ranging from 60% to 80%.”]
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Institute of Medicine



Conclusion: Scientific data indicate the potential therapeutic value of cannabinoid drugs, primarily THC, for pain relief, control of nausea and vomiting, and appetite stimulation; smoked marijuana, however, is a crude THC delivery system that also delivers harmful substances.

Recommendation: Clinical trials of cannabinoid drugs for symptom management should be conducted with the goal of developing rapid-onset, reliable, and safe delivery systems.

Recommendation: Clinical trials of marijuana use for medical purposes should be conducted under the following limited circumstances: trials should involve only short-term marijuana use (less than six months), should be conducted in patients with conditions for which there is reasonable expectation of efficacy, should be approved by institutional review boards, and should collect data about efficacy.

Recommendation: Short-term use of smoked marijuana (less than six months) for patients with debilitating symptoms (such as intractable pain or vomiting) must meet the following conditions:

  • failure of all approved medications to provide relief has been documented,
  • the symptoms can reasonably be expected to be relieved by rapid-onset cannabinoid drugs,
  • such treatment is administered under medical supervision in a manner that allows for assessment of treatment effectiveness, and
  • involves an oversight strategy comparable to an institutional review board process that could provide guidance within 24 hours of a submission by a physician to provide marijuana to a patient for a specified use.”


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 National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse



“[S]ociety should seek to discourage use, while concentrating its attention on the prevention and treatment of heavy and very heavy use. The Commission feels that the criminalization of possession of marihuana for personal use is socially self-defeating as a means of achieving this objective. We have attempted to balance individual freedom on one hand and the obligation of the state to consider the wider social good on the other.


We believe our recommended scheme will permit society to exercise its control and influence in ways most useful and efficient, meanwhile reserving to the individual American his sense of privacy, his sense of individuality, and, within the context of all interacting and interdependent society, his options to select his own life style, values, goals and opportunities.

The Commission sincerely hopes that the tone of cautious restraint sounded in this Report will be perpetuated in the debate which will follow it. For those who feel we have not proceeded far enough, we are reminded of Thomas Jefferson’s advice to George Washington that ‘Delay is preferable to error.’ For those who argue we have gone too far, we note Roscoe Pound’s statement, ‘The law must be stable, but it must not stand still.’

We have carefully analyzed the interrelationship between marihuana the drug, marihuana use as a behavior, and marihuana as a social problem. Recognizing the extensive degree of misinformation about marihuana as a drug, we have tried to demythologize it. Viewing the use of marihuana in its wider social context, we have tried to desymbolize it.

Considering the range of social concerns in contemporary America, marihuana does not, in our considered judgment, rank very high. We would deemphasize marihuana as a problem.

The existing social and legal policy is out of proportion to the individual and social harm engendered by the use of the drug. To replace it, we have attempted to design a suitable social policy, which we believe is fair, cautious and attuned to the social realities of our time.”
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LaGuardia Committee Report on Marihuana




  • “Under the influence of marihuana the basic personality structure of the individual does not change but some of the more superficial aspects of his behavior show alteration.
  • With the use of marihuana the individual experiences increased feelings of relaxation, disinhibition and self-confidence.
  • The new feeling of self-confidence induced by the drug expresses itself primarily through oral rather than through physical activity. There is some indication of a diminution in physical activity.
  • The disinhibition which results from the use of marihuana releases what is latent in the individual’s thoughts and emotions but does not evoke responses which would be totally alien to him in his undrugged state.
  • Marihuana not only releases pleasant reactions but also feelings of anxiety.
  • Individuals with a limited capacity for effective experience and who have difficulty in making social contacts are more likely to resort to marihuana than those more capable of outgoing responses.”