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March 19, 1997

NIH Panel Says More Study Is Needed to Assess Marijuana's Medicinal Use

JAMA. 1997;277(11):867-868. doi:10.1001/jama.1997.03540350017006

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IN 1988, Paul Palmberg, MD, PhD, was treating a glaucoma patient who did not respond to any of the conventional treatments. So his patient, Elvy Mussika, obtained marijuana from a federal government compassionate use program in hopes that it would lower her intraocular pressure.

Last month, Palmberg told his fellow members of a panel specially convened by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Md, that marijuana was the only agent that helped Mussika, who spoke during an activist-sponsored news conference at the meeting. "There may be a residual group of people for whom marijuana is essential. We ought to find out," Palmberg, professor of ophthalmology at the University of Miami School of Medicine in Miami, Fla, told the panel.

After a day and a half of hearing expert testimony and patients' testimonials, panel members said they believe sufficient rationale exists to conduct additional studies on the therapeutic use