Medical Marijuana A public service of, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit
Home About Us Methodology Credibility Glossary Terms of Use Contact Us ProCon Home
10 Main Pros and Cons on Medical Marijuana
(more information about our star ranking system - )

1. On American health associations

Pro medical marijuana Con medical marijuana

"Numerous medical and public-health organizations support legal access to medical marijuana.

National groups include the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Public Health Association and the American Nurses Associations.

Regional groups include the New York State Association of County Health Officials, the California Medical Association and the Rhode Island Medical Society.

I know of no medical group that believes that jailing sick and dying people is good for them."

-- Joycelyn Elders, M.D.
former U.S. Surgeon General, 3/26/04

"Not one American health association accepts marijuana as medicine."

-- U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration
(DEA) Website, February 2003

2. On marijuana's risks

Pro medical marijuana Con medical marijuana

"Marijuana is the safest therapeutically active substance known to man. . . safer than many foods we commonly consume."

-- Judge Francis L. Young
DEA Administrative Law Judge
September 1988

"Smoked marijuana damages the brain, heart, lungs, and immune system. It impairs learning and interferes with memory, perception, and judgment. Smoked marijuana contains cancer-causing compounds and has been implicated in a high percentage of automobile crashes and workplace accidents."

3. On physician recommendations

Pro medical marijuana Con medical marijuana

"As a physician, I am frustrated that I cannot prescribe marijuana for patients who might benefit from it. At the very least I would like to be able to refer them to a safe, reliable, quality-controlled source."

"Although I understand many believe marijuana is the most effective drug in combating their medical ailments, I would caution against this assumption due to the lack of consistent, repeatable scientific data available to prove marijuana's medical benefits.

Based on current evidence, I believe that marijuana is a dangerous drug and that there are less dangerous medicines offering the same relief from pain and other medical symptoms."

-- Sen. Bill Frist, M.D. (R-TN)
Oct. 20, 2003 letter to

4. On marijuana and addiction

Pro medical marijuana Con medical marijuana

"Just 9% of those who have used the drug [marijuana] develop dependence. By comparison, 15% of drinkers become dependent on alcohol, 23% of heroin users get hooked, and a third of tobacco smokers [33 1/3%] become slaves to cigarettes."

-- Time Magazine
November 4, 2002

"Marijuana is an addictive drug with significant health consequences to its users and others. Users can become dependent on marijuana to the point they must seek treatment to stop abusing it."

-- U.S. DEA
website, February 2003

5. On marijuana and medical benefits

Pro medical marijuana Con medical marijuana

"From working with AIDS and cancer patients, I repeatedly saw how marijuana could ameliorate a patient's debilitating fatigue, restore appetite, diminish pain, remedy nausea, cure vomiting and curtail down-to-the-bone weight loss."

"There is no legitimate medical use whatsoever for marijuana. This [marijuana] is not medicine. This is bogus witchcraft. It has no place in medicine, no place in pain relief, and it has no place around our children."

-- Bob Barr (R-GA)
Former Congressman, in his debate with radio talk show host Neil Boortz - May 14, 2002

6. On marijuana vs. Marinol

Pro medical marijuana Con medical marijuana

"There are really no other medications that have the same mechanisms of action as marijuana. Dronabinol (Marinol) is available by prescription in capsules, but has the distinct disadvantage of containing only synthetic delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) which is only one of many therapeutically beneficial cannabinoids in the natural plant."

-- Gregory T. Carter, M.D.
October, 2003

"Marinol differs from the crude plant marijuana because it consists of one pure, well-studied, FDA-approved pharmaceutical in stable known dosages. Marijuana is an unstable mixture of over 400 chemicals including many toxic psychoactive chemicals which are largely unstudied and appear in uncontrolled strengths."

-- California Narcotics Officers Association
in their policy statement "The Use of Marijuana as a Medicine", published on their website (as of 10/31/05)

7. On marijuana and smoking

Pro medical marijuana Con medical marijuana

"In the anti-smoking environment we live in, many people believe that smoking anything is detrimental to the pulmonary system. I, personally, believe that living in a polluted urban environment represents more of a pulmonary risk...

[T]he titration precision of the pulmonary route [smoking] allows the physicians to give the patient the responsibility for establishing his own dosage."

-- Lester Grinspoon, M.D.
Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, 6/24/05

"The major potential pulmonary consequences of habitual marijuana use of particular relevance to patients with AIDS is superimposed pulmonary infection, which could be life threatening in the seriously immonocompromised patient."

-- Donald P. Tashkin, M.D.
Journal of Cannabis Therapeutics
Vol. 1, No. 3/4, 2001, pp. 87-102

8. On the message to teens

Pro medical marijuana Con medical marijuana

"While it is not possible with existing data to determine conclusively that state medical marijuana laws caused the documented declines in adolescent marijuana use, the overwhelming downward trend strongly suggests that the effect of state medical marijuana laws on teen marijuana use has been either neutral or positive, discouraging youthful experimentation with the drug."

-- Mitch Earleywine, Ph.D. & Karen O’Keefe, Esq. "Marijuana Use by Young People: The Impact
of State Medical Marijuana Laws," 9/05

"By characterizing the use of illegal drugs as quasi-legal, state-sanctioned, Saturday afternoon fun, legalizers destabilize the societal norm that drug use is dangerous. They undercut the goals of stopping the initiation of drug use to prevent addiction.... Children entering drug abuse treatment routinely report that they heard that 'pot is medicine' and, therefore, believed it to be good for them."

9. On the 1999 U.S. Institute of Medicine Report

Pro medical marijuana Con medical marijuana

"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.

"The [1999] U.S. Institute of Medicine study concluded that smoking marijuana is not recommended for the treatment of any disease condition."

-- U.S. DEA
letter to,
January 2002

10. On the American Medical Association (AMA)

Pro medical marijuana Con medical marijuana

"Until such time as rapid-onset cannabinoid [marijuana] formulations are clinically available, our AMA affirms the appropriateness of compassionate use of marijuana and related cannabinoids in carefully controlled programs designed to provide symptomatic relief of nausea, vomiting, cachexia, anorexia, spasticity, acute or chronic pain, or other palliative effects."

-- American Medical Association (AMA)
Council on Scientific Affairs report to the AMA House of Delegates June 2001

"(1) The AMA calls for further adequate and well-controlled studies of marijuana and related cannabinoids in patients who have serious conditions for which preclinical, anecdotal, or controlled evidence suggests possible efficacy and the application of such results to the understanding and treatment of disease.

(2) the AMA recommends that marijuana be retained in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act pending the outcome of such studies.

(3) The AMA urges the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to implement administrative procedures to facilitate grant applications and the conduct of well-designed clinical research into the medical utility of marijuana. This effort should include:

  1. disseminating specific information for researchers on the development of safeguards for marijuana, clinical research protocols and the development of a model for informed consent on marijuana for institutional review board evaluation;

  2. sufficient funding to support such clinical research and access for qualified investigators to adequate supplies of marijuana for clinical research purposes;

  3. confirming that marijuana of various and consistent strengths and/or placebo will be supplied by the National Institute on Drug Abuse to investigators registered with the Drug Enforcement Agency who are conducting bona fide clinical research studies that receive Food and Drug Administration approval, regardless of whether or not the NIH is the primary source of grant support.

(4) The AMA believes that the NIH should use its resources and influence to support the development of a smoke-free inhaled delivery system for marijuana or delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) to reduce the health hazards associated with the combustion and inhalation of marijuana.

(5) The AMA believes that effective patient care requires the free and unfettered exchange of information on treatment alternatives and that discussion of these alternatives between physicians and patients should not subject either party to criminal sanctions."