Test benefits of cannabis, say American scientists

Washington (AP) - Marijuana should be scientifically tested on patients to determine if smoking the weed can help sick people combat nausea and other serious conditions, a panel of United States experts has concluded.

The eight-member committee of experts said that scientific study of marijuana's medical value should be separated "from the societal debate over the potential harmful effects of non-medical marijuana use." The committee called on the National Institutes of Health to "facilitate" grants studying marijuana use in treating patients.

"All decisions on the ultimate usefulness of a medical intervention are based on a benefit-risk calculation," the report said. "Marijuana should be no exception to this generally accepted principle."

For treatment of some conditions, "marijuana looks promising enough to recommend that there be new controlled studies," committee chairman Dr William Beaver, of Washington's Georgetown University School of Medicine, is quoted as saying in the report.