Last updated on: 6/11/2009 1:05:00 PM PST
Can the Quality of Medical Marijuana Be Controlled so Its Users Receive Marijuana of Uniform Strength and Purity?

PRO (yes)

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) stated the following in a Jan. 1998 report titled "Provision of Marijuana and Other Compounds for Scientific Research - Recommendations of the National Institute on Drug Abuse National Advisory Council," available on the NIDA website:

"The National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) administers a contract with the University of Mississippi to grow cannabis for research purposes and is the only legal source for cannabis in the United States.

NIDA also supplies cannabis to seven patients under single patient so-called 'compassionate use' Investigational New Drug Applications (IND)...

NIDA's predecessor, National Institutes of Mental Health, founded a drug supply program in 1968 to provide researchers with the compounds necessary to conduct biomedical research and cannabis was among the first substances to be made available. They 'provide a contamination-free source of cannabis material with consistent and predictable potency' (as per NIDA, 1-98) for biomedical research."

Jan. 1998 - National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) 

Jay Cavanaugh, PhD, National Director of the American Alliance for Medical Cannabis, wrote an email to on May 20, 2002 stating:

"Many of the major university labs are equipped to characterize and assay [chemically analyze] agricultural samples. With certified assays and testing, medical cannabis could be properly packaged and labeled for patient use.

Cannabis prohibition prevents medical growers from access to laboratories that could conduct proper assays. There is, at present, no Good Manufacturing Practices, nor FDA oversight.

Well capitalized pharmaceutical ventures such as GW Pharmaceuticals in England who possess a government license to grow medical cannabis can and do conduct comprehensive tests to insure consistent quality and purity of their medical product...

May 20, 2002 - Jay Cavanaugh, PhD 

CON (no)

Henry Miller, MS, MD, former Director of the FDA's Office of Biotechnology, stated the following in a June 17, 2007 op-ed titled "Crackpot Legislation," published in the New York Times:

"Should state laws permit marijuana dispensaries -- which charge high prices for marijuana products, including tinctures, baked goods and candies, and offer medical advice -- to flourish without any kind of federal supervision or other assurance of quality? After all, marijuana is not a uniform, well-defined material. Different plant strains vary radically in their cannabinoid composition and in the contaminants -- fungi, bacteria, pesticides, heavy metals and other substances -- they contain. Products made without any proof of quality control may be ineffective or harmful."

June 17, 2007 - Henry Miller, MD 

Educating Voices, an anti-drug organization, wrote the following in a July 2003 White Paper titled "The Potential Medical Liability for Physicians Recommending Marijuana as a Medicine," available on its website

"Generally, a physician functions as a learned intermediary between a drug manufacturer and the patient. This learned intermediary position is not possible when a physician recommends marijuana, because there is no drug manufacturer, no FDA approval, no standard chemical composition (potency and quality), no standard dosage, no safe delivery system, and no knowledge of marijuana's interaction with other drugs or its impact on pre-existing conditions."

July 2003 - Educating Voices