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Medical Applications of Whole Marijuana Versus Oral THC Debated


March 1993

A column touting the efficacy of medical marijuana (Doug Bandow, "Sometimes Marijuana Is the Best Medicine," Wall Street Journal, 1/28/93) sparked subsequent publication of two letters to the editor in the Wall Street Journal offering contrasting views on the relative efficacy of smoked marijuana compared to oral THC. THC stands for tetrahydrocannabinol, the primary active component of marijuana (Letters to the Editor: Rick Doblin and Mark Kleiman, Ph.D.; Terry Plasse, M.D., "Marijuana as Medicine," Wall Street Journal, 2/19/93, A15).

Drug policy analysts Rick Doblin and Mark Kleiman conceded that there was a need for controlled trials comparing the efficacy of whole, smoked marijuana to oral THC. They said that because there are no patent rights to be had for marijuana, no drug company will pursue the research. Hence, the funding for such research, which would be modest by pharmaceutical standards, must come from the government or foundations.

Terry Plasse, a consultant to and former director of Unimed, the manufacturer of Marinol, the prescription form of oral THC, argued that Marinol is superior to marijuana and that marijuana does not meet modern standards for a medicinal agent.