Statement of Task
The study will assess what is currently known and not known about the medical use of marijuana. It will include a review of the science base regarding the mechanism of action of marijuana, an examination of the peer-reviewed scientific literature on the efficacy of therapeutic uses of marijuana, and the costs of using various forms of marijuana versus approved drugs for specific medical conditions (e.g., glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, wasting diseases, nausea, and pain).
The study will also include an evaluation of the acute and chronic effects of marijuana on health and behavior; a consideration of the adverse effects of marijuana use compared with approved drugs; an evaluation of the efficacy of different delivery systems for marijuana (e.g., inhalation vs. oral); an analysis of the data concerning marijuana as a gateway drug; and an examination of the possible differences in the effects of marijuana due to age and type of medical condition.
Specific issues to be addressed fall under three broad categories: the science base, therapeutic use, and economics.
· Review of neuroscience related to marijuana, particularly the relevance of new studies on addiction and craving.
· Review of behavioral and social science base of marijuana use, par-
ticularly assessment of the relative risk of progression to other drugs following marijuana use.
· Review of the literature determining which chemical components of crude marijuana are responsible for possible therapeutic effects and for side effects.
· Evaluation of any conclusions on the medical use of marijuana drawn by other groups.
· Efficacy and side effects of various delivery systems for marijuana compared to existing medications for glaucoma, wasting syndrome, pain, nausea, or other symptoms.
· Differential effects of various forms of marijuana that relate to age or type of disease.
· Costs of various forms of marijuana compared with costs of existing medications for glaucoma, wasting syndrome, pain, nausea, or other symptoms.
· Assessment of the differences between marijuana and existing medications in terms of access and availability.
These specific areas along with the assessments described above will be integrated into a broad description and assessment of the available literature relevant to the medical use of marijuana.