Last updated on: 5/30/2008 | Author:

Should Marijuana Be a Medical Option for Patients with a Terminal Illness and Suffering Severe Pain?

PRO (yes)


The Institute of Medicine published in its Mar. 1999 report titled “Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base”:

“Terminal cancer patients pose different issues. For those patients the medical harm associated with smoking is of little consequence. For terminal patients suffering debilitating pain or nausea and for whom all indicated medications have failed to provide relief, the medical benefits of smoked marijuana might outweigh the harm.”

Mar. 1999 - "Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base"


Consumer Reports, a nonprofit magazine, stated in May 1997:

Consumer Reports believes that, for patients with advanced AIDS and terminal cancer, the apparent benefits some derive from smoking marijuana outweigh any substantiated or even suspected risks. In the same spirit the FDA uses to hasten the approval of cancer drugs, federal laws should be relaxed in favor of states’ rights to allow physicians to administer marijuana to their patients on a caring and compassionate basis.”

May 1997

CON (no)


Daniel Brookoff, MD, PhD, Director of the Methodist Comprehensive Pain Institute, wrote to Medical Marijuana in a Jan. 17, 2004 email:

“[I]f a dying patient used marijuana I wouldn’t stop them (i.e. I wouldn’t turn them in ) but I really would make an effort to offer them a better alternative. This has always been the case in my practice.”

Jan. 17, 2005


Gabriel Nahas, MD, PhD, Professor Emeritus of Anesthesiology and Medicine at Columbia University, wrote in a Mar. 1997 editorial published in the Wall Street Journal:

“In this instance [for the terminally ill], the use of marijuana can no longer be considered a therapeutic intervention but one of several procedures used to ease the ebbing of life of the terminally ill.

But for this purpose doctors should prescribe antiemetic and analgesic therapies of proven efficacy, rather than marijuana smoking.

This therapeutic course is not based on bureaucratic absolutism, political correctness, or reflexive ideology — but on scientific knowledge and the humane practice of medicine.”

Mar. 1997