THE current edition of The Lancet, Britain's most respected medical journal, reports on a newly discovered therapeutic use for cannabis. It can cure hiccups.

The magazine quotes research carried out by the Aurora Medical Group in Milwaukee in the United States where doctors treating a patient suffering with Aids found that after minor surgery he developed persistent hiccups. They found that the drug Chlorpromazine could control the hiccups, but only during sleep. By day they tried a cocktail of intravenous drugs, all of which failed.

On day six they discovered that acupuncture did control the hiccups, but only for an hour. On day eight, the patient, who had never used cannabis, smoked the drug and the hiccups stopped. Other treatments were tried but did not work. When the patient smoked cannabis again, the hiccups stopped and did not recur.

The report concludes: "Because intractable hiccups is an uncommon condition, it is unlikely that the use of marijuana will ever be tested in a clinical trial."