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Institute of Medicine Biography

Pro to the question "Should Marijuana Be a Medical Option?"

Our classification of the IOM as “Pro” to our question is based on the following two excerpts from their report, “Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base,” on pages 126 and 179:

“Marijuana is not a completely benign substance. It is a powerful drug with a variety of effects. However, except for the harm associated with smoking, the adverse effects of marijuana use are within the range tolerated for other medications. Thus, the safety issues associated with marijuana do not preclude some medical uses.” (page 126)

“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.” (page 179)

“Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base,” PDF Mar. 17, 1999

[Editor’s note: Although we believe a plain reading of the two above statements from p. 126 and p. 179 of the IOM study “Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base” are Pro to the question, “Should marijuana be a medical option?,” we have received an email on Feb. 4, 2008 from the Executive Assistant in the Office of Reports and Communication at the Institute of Medicine stating that it would be “inappropriate” for us to categorize these statements as either Pro or Con for these reasons:

“The Institute of Medicine (IOM) provides unbiased, evidence-based, and authoritative information and advice concerning health and science policy to policy-makers, professionals, leaders in every sector of society, and the public at large. It would be inappropriate to list the IOM as either pro or con on that issue and we would protest your doing so. The IOM only reviews evidence and does not take advocacy positions one way or the other.”]

Email to, Feb. 4, 2008


“We conduct studies and convene experts and policymakers on subjects ranging from the quality of medical care to preparing for pandemic flu… The National Academy of Sciences was created by the federal government to be an adviser on scientific and technological matters. However, the Academy and its associated organizations (e.g., the Institute of Medicine) are private, non-governmental, organizations and do not receive direct federal appropriations for their work. Studies undertaken for the government by the Academy complex usually are funded out of appropriations made available to federal agencies. Most of the studies carried out by the Academy complex are at the request of government agencies.”

“About the IOM,” (accessed Jan. 29, 2008)


“The Institute of Medicine provides independent, objective, evidencebased advice to policymakers, health professionals, the private sector, and the public.”

“About the IOM,” (accessed Jan. 29, 2008)

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