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The Medical Use of Cannabis: Recent Devleopments

The Medical Use of Cannabis: Recent Devleopments

Advice on legislation or legal policy issues contained in this paper is provided for use in parliamentary debate and for related parliamentary purposes. This paper is not professional legal opinion.
Briefing Paper No. 11/1999 by Gareth Griffith and Marie Swain

  • It should be emphasised that this paper does not consider the social/recreational use of cannabis/marijuana and the arguments for and against its legalisation or decriminalisation in this context. The paper's sole concern is with the separate and distinct issue of the medical use of cannabis/marijuana.
  • In recent months two major reports on the medical use of cannabis/marijuana have been released: the first in November 1998 by the House of Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology, the second in March 1999 by the United States Institute of Medicine. The purpose of this paper is to present an overview of these reports and responses to them, as well as to offer some background to the debate concerning the medical use of cannabis/marijuana in the US and UK.
  • Debate on the medical use of cannabis/marijuana has also occurred in Australia in recent years and this is discussed, along with a comment on the current legal position in this country, in the last section of the paper.
  • Further, the reports mentioned above are by no means isolated publications. At least five other major reports have been released in recent years. These additional reports were issued by: the Health Council of the Netherlands; the American Medical Association House of Delegates; the British Medical Association; the US National Institute of Health; and the World Health Organization. The main findings of these reports are also set out in this paper.