General Quotes On Medical Use of Cannabis and Prohibition

Hon. Francis Young – DEA Administrative Law Judge – 1988:

“In strict medical terms marijuana is far safer than many foods we commonly consume. For example, eating 10 raw potatoes can result in a toxic response. By comparison, it is physically impossible to eat enough marijuana to induce death. Marijuana in its natural form is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man. By any measure of rational analysis marijuana can be safely used within the supervised routine of medical care.”

Sep. 6, 1988 ruling in the matter of “Marijuana Rescheduling Petition”

Dr. Joycelyn Elders, MD, former US Surgeon General:

“The evidence is overwhelming that marijuana can relieve certain types of pain, nausea, vomiting and other symptoms caused by such illnesses as multiple sclerosis, cancer and AIDS — or by the harsh drugs sometimes used to treat them. And it can do so with remarkable safety. Indeed, marijuana is less toxic than many of the drugs that physicians prescribe every day.

Mar. 26, 2004, “Myths About Medical Marijuana,” Providence Journal

Dr. Sanjay Gupta:

“I mistakenly believed the Drug Enforcement Agency listed marijuana as a schedule 1 substance because of sound scientific proof. Surely, they must have quality reasoning as to why marijuana is in the category of the most dangerous drugs that have ‘no accepted medicinal use and a high potential for abuse.’

They didn’t have the science to support that claim, and I now know that when it comes to marijuana neither of those things are true. It doesn’t have a high potential for abuse, and there are very legitimate medical applications. In fact, sometimes marijuana is the only thing that works…

We have been terribly and systematically misled for nearly 70 years in the United States, and I apologize for my own role in that.”

Aug. 8, 2013, “Why I Changed My Mind on Weed,”

Steven R. Patierno, PhD, Deputy Director of the Duke Cancer Institute and Professor of Medicine at Duke University School of Medicine:

“The introduction of smokeless cannabis in dosage form will immediately ease human pain and suffering and help to move medical marijuana from the underground economy to the mainstream of the nation’s health-care system.” 

July 7, 2014, “New York Does Medical Marijuana Right,” Wall Street Journal

Lyn Nofziger, former Press Secretary to Ronald Reagan:

Marijuana clearly has medicinal value. Thousands of seriously ill Americans have been able to determine that for themselves, albeit illegally. Like my own family, these individuals did not wish to break the law but they had no other choice. The numerous attempts to legitimately resolve the issue-via state legislation and federal administrative hearings-have too often been ignored or thwarted by misguided federal agencies. Several states conducted extensive, and expensive, research programs which demonstrated marijuana’s medical utility-particularly in the treatment of chemotherapy side-effects. Francis L. Young, the chief administrative law judge of the United States Drug Enforcement Administration, ruled marijuana has legitimate medical applications and should be available to doctors.”

Forward in 1999 book “Marijuana RX: The Patients’ Fight for Medicinal Pot”, by Robert C. Randall and Alice M. O’Leary

Philip Denney, MD:

I have found in my study of these patients that cannabis is really a safe, effective and non-toxic alternative to many standard medications. There is no such thing as an overdose. We have seen very minimal problems with abuse or dependence, which at worst are equivalent to dependence on caffeine. While a substance may have some potential for misuse, in my opinion, that’s a poor excuse to deny its use and benefit to everyone else.”

Nov. 17, 2005 testimony to the Arkansas legislature in support of House Bill 1303, “An Act to Permit the Medical Use of Marijuana”

Jay Cavanaugh, PhD, National Director of the American Alliance for Medical Cannabis (AAMC):

“Many of the chronically ill have successfully sought relief with the use of medical cannabis, an age-old remedy that now shows real scientific efficacy. Hundreds of thousands of the sick have replaced disabling narcotics and other psychotropic medications with nontoxic and benign cannabis. The anecdotal evidence is overwhelming. Folks with spinal injuries able to give up their walkers, AIDS patients able to gain weight and keep their medications down, cancer patients finding relief from the terrible nausea of chemotherapy, chronic pain patients once again functional with their consciousness restored from narcotic lethargy, and folks once disabled from crippling psychiatric disorders and addictions, returned to sanity and society with the assistance of a nontoxic herb with remarkable healing powers.

2002 article “The Plight of the Chronically Ill,” posted on the AAMC website

Jerry S. Mandel, PhD, Emeritus Professor of Sociology at Sonoma State University and Harvey W. Feldman, PhD, former Fellow of the Drug Abuse Council:

The issue of whether marijuana has medicinal benefits no longer seems to be in question. Hundreds of scientific studies and thousands of testimonials from patients have established marijuana’s effectiveness in controlling the nausea of cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy and/or radiation; in enhancing appetites for AIDS patients who suffer a wasting syndrome or who have adverse reactions to their HAART (highly active antiretroviral treatment) medications; in reducing intraocular pressure for persons with glaucoma; in giving relief from spasms of muscular dystrophy; and for relieving pain from dozens of other serious diseases.”

Apr.-June 1998 article titled “”Providing Medical Marijuana: The Importance of Cannabis,” Journal of Psychoactive Drugs

David L. Bearman, MD, physician and medical marijuana expert:

“I grew up knowing that cannabis could be a medicine… I’m not aware of any proven long-term [harmful] effects from cannabis. People have been trying to find major risks [from marijuana], but I’ve never seen any documented. We know if you smoke cannabis your chances of getting lung cancer are less than if you don’t smoke anything at all.”

Mar. 1, 2006 phone interview with

Gregory T. Carter, MD, Clinical Professor at the School of Medicine at the University of Washington and Co-director of the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA)/Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Center:

“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. Interestingly, it is the most psychoactive of the cannabinoids and is the one that the Federal government allows to be prescribed!

Cannabinoids are now known to have the capacity for neuromodulation, via direct, receptor-based mechanisms, at numerous levels within the nervous system. These provide therapeutic properties that may be applicable to the treatment of neurological disorders, including anti-oxidative, neuroprotective effects, analgesia, anti-inflammatory actions, immunomodulation, modulation of glial cells and tumor growth regulation. Beyond that, the cannabinoids have also been shown to be remarkably safe with no potential for overdose.”

Oct. 2003 article posted on the MDA website

The American Nurses Association (ANA):

“The American Nurses Association (ANA) recognizes that patients should have safe access to therapeutic marijuana/cannabis. Cannabis or marijuana has been used medicinally for centuries. It has been shown to be effective in treating a wide range of symptoms and conditions.

Mar. 19, 2004 “Position Statement: Providing Patients Safe Access to Therapeutic Marijuana/Cannabis,” ANA website

David Hadorn, MD, PhD, Medical Consultant for GW Pharmaceuticals, Ltd.:

“I have seen many patients with chronic pain, muscle spasms, nausea, anorexia, and other unpleasant symptoms obtain significant — often remarkable — relief from cannabis medicines, well beyond what had been provided by traditional (usually opiate-based) pain relievers.

July 17, 2003 “Use of Cannabis Medicines in Clinical Practice,” website (no longer online)

Lester Grinspoon, MD, Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School:

“Cannabis is remarkably safe. Although not harmless, it is surely less toxic than most of the conventional medicines it could replace if it were legally available. Despite its use by millions of people over thousands of years, cannabis has never cause an overdose death.

Oct. 1, 1997 testimony before the Crime Subcommittee of the Judiciary Committee in the US House of Representatives

Robert Kampia, Founder and Executive Director of the Marijuana Policy Project:

“The medical benefits of marijuana are widely recognized…there is almost no way that a science-based approach can lead to the conclusion that marijuana–even smoked marijuana–is not medicine. The opposition to medical marijuana isn’t based on science, but rather lies and myths that are refutable by indisputable facts… Regarding the claim that marijuana is too dangerous to be a medicine, it is interesting to note that there has never been a death attributed to an overdose of marijuana. Clearly, most prescription drugs are far more dangerous than marijuana.”

Apr. 1, 2004 testimony to the House Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, Drug Policy, and Human Resources

Jerome P. Kassirer, MD, former Editor of the New England Journal of Medicine:

I believe that a federal policy that prohibits physicians from alleviating suffering by prescribing marijuana for seriously ill patients is misguided, heavy-handed, and inhumane… Federal authorities should rescind their prohibition of the medicinal use of marijuana for seriously ill patients and allow physicians to decide which patients to treat. The government should change marijuana’s status from that of a Schedule 1 drug (considered to be potentially addictive and with no current medical use) to that of a Schedule 2 drug (potentially addictive but with some accepted medical use) and regulate it accordingly.”

Jan. 30, 1997 editorial “Federal Foolishness and Marijuana,” New England Journal of Medicine

Francis L. Young, former Chief Administrative Law Judge at the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA):

“The evidence in this record [9-6-88 ruling] clearly shows that marijuana has been accepted as capable of relieving the distress of great numbers of very ill people, and doing so with safety under medical supervision. It would be unreasonable, arbitrary and capricious for DEA to continue to stand between those sufferers and the benefits of this substance in light of the evidence in this record.

Sep. 6, 1988 ruling in the matter of “Marijuana Rescheduling Petition”

Karen O’Keefe, JD, attorney and Legislative Analyst for Marijuana Policy Project (MPP):

It is fundamentally wrong to make preserving one’s health — or life — a crime. Yet the federal law on marijuana and many state laws do just that. There is overwhelming evidence that marijuana is one of the safest available treatment options, when used at the direction of a physician. Even the DEA’s Chief Administrative Law Judge, Francis Young, came to that conclusion. Research has shown that marijuana alleviates pain, nausea, AIDS and cancer wasting, and glaucoma. In trials where patients have been allowed to present evidence of their medical need for marijuana, courts have frequently found that marijuana it is medically necessary to their health. With roughly 20% of all cancer deaths caused by wasting, it is cruel and senseless to criminalize the doctor-advised use of a safe, effective, and widely available treatment.

Sep. 21, 2005 email to

American College of Physicians (ACP):

“Position 1: ACP supports programs and funding for rigorous scientific evaluation of the potential therapeutic benefits of medical marijuana and the publication of such findings…

Position 2: ACP encourages the use of nonsmoked forms of THC that have proven therapeutic value

Position 4: ACP urges review of marijuana’s status as a schedule I controlled substance and its reclassification into a more appropriate schedule, given the scientific evidence regarding marijuana’s safety and efficacy in some clinical conditions.

Position 5: ACP strongly supports exemption from federal criminal prosecution; civil liability; or professional sanctioning, such as loss of licensure or credentialing, for physicians who prescribe or dispense medical marijuana in accordance with state law. Similarly, ACP strongly urges protection from criminal or civil penalties for patients who use medical marijuana as permitted under state laws.”

Feb. 15, 2008 position paper titled “Supporting Research into the Therapeutic Role of Marijuana”

Christopher Largen, author, and George McMahon, author and medical marijuana patient of the US Federal Drug Administration’s Investigational New Drug (IND) Program:

“Ultimately, the issue is not about laws, science or politics, but sick patients. Making no distinction between individuals circumstances of use, the war on drugs has also become a war on suffering people. Legislators are not health care professionals and patients are not criminals, yet health and law become entwined in a needlessly cruel and sometimes deadly dance… I sincerely hope our work will illuminate the irrational injustice of medical marijuana prohibition….”

2003 book Prescription Pot: A Leading Advocate’s Heroic Battle to Legalize Medical Marijuana

The Federation of American Scientists:

Based on much evidence, from patients and doctors alike, on the superior effectiveness and safety of whole cannabis compared to other medications, the President should instruct the NIH and the Food and Drug Administration to make efforts to enroll seriously ill patients whose physicians believe that whole cannabis would be helpful to their conditions in clinical trials, both to allow data-gathering and to provide an alternative to the black market while the scientific questions about the possible utility of cannabis are resolved.”

Nov. 15, 1994 petition to US Department of Health and Human Services

The Lymphoma Foundation of America:

“Be it resolved that this organization urges Congress and the President to enact legislation to reschedule marijuana to allow doctors to prescribe smokable marijuana to patients in need; and, Be it further resolved that this organization urges the US Public Health Service to allow limited access to medicinal marijuana by promptly reopening the Investigational New Drug compassionate access program to new applicants.”

Jan. 20, 1997 resolution

Ethan Russo, MD, Senior Medical Advisor at the Cannabinoid Research Institute:

Cannabis smoking, even of a crude, low-grade product, provides effective symptomatic relief of pain, muscle spasms, and intraocular pressure elevations in selected patients failing other modes of treatment…

It is the authors’ opinion that the Compassionate IND program should be reopened and extended to other patients in need of clinical cannabis. Failing that, local, state and federal laws might be amended to provide regulated and monitored clinical cannabis to suitable candidates.”

Jan. 2002 paper “Chronic Cannabis Use in the Compassionate Investigational New Drug Program: An Examination of Benefits and Adverse Effects of Legal Clinical Cannabis,” Journal of Cannabis Therapeutics

Mollie Fry, MD, a physician specializing in medical marijuana:

“I took an oath to do no harm. If a doctor is willing to give you a prescription for a drug that is addictive or could kill you, then why should you not be able to choose a non-toxic drug like marijuana?

Apr. 7, 2006 interview with

Kate Scannell, MD, Co-Director of the Kaiser-Permanente Northern California Ethics Department:

“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. The federal obsession with a political agenda that keeps marijuana out of the hands of sick and dying people is appalling and irrational. Washington bureaucrats — far removed from the troubled bedsides of sick and dying patients — are ignoring what patients and doctors and health care workers are telling them about real world suffering. The federal refusal to honor public referendums like California’s voter-approved Medical Marijuana Initiative is as bewildering as it is ominous. Its refusal to listen to doctors groups like the California Medical Association that support compassionate use of medical marijuana is chilling.

 In a society that has witnessed extensive positive experiences with medicinal marijuana, as long as it is safe and not proven to be ineffective, why shouldn’t seriously ill patients have access to it? Why should an old woman be made to die a horrible death for a hollow political symbol?

Feb. 16, 2003 article published in the San Francisco Chronicle


Special thanks to for compiling many of the quotes on our website.

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