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December 20, 1995

Marijuana as Medicine

Author Affiliations

Birmingham, Ala

JAMA. 1995;274(23):1837. doi:10.1001/jama.1995.03530230023020

To the Editor.  —As an oncologist I am continually astounded by government policy surrounding the medicinal use of marijuana. The recent Commentary by Dr Grinspoon and Mr Bakalar1 stated the problem with eloquence and sensitivity. In addition, I would point out that in contrast to marijuana, cigarette tobacco has no proven medicinal effect whatsoever, is as addictive as cocaine and heroin,2 is subsidized with tax dollars, and costs the United States an estimated $100 billion in health care expenditures and lost productivity.3It is ironic to inform cancer patients that they cannot partake of marijuana to relieve their metastatic lung cancer— associated anorexia and cachexia acquired from years of partaking in "the only consumer product sold legally in the United States that is unequivocally carcinogenic when used as directed."3 In addition, with the cost of other effective appetite stimulants and antiemetics in excess of $200 per

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