The National Cancer Institute (NCI) has removed information about the anti-tumor effects of marijuana from its online treatment database just eleven days after becoming the first federal agency to formally recognize marijuana’s medicinal properties.


The Colorado Independent first reported that the NCI replaced a sentence about marijuana's "possible direct anti-tumor effect" with one stating that although "no relevant surveys of practice patterns exist" it is prescribed mainly for "symptom management." The edit appeared Monday afternoon.

Although the NCI backtracked on the possible anti-tumor effects of marijuana, it still acknowledged that it has potential benefits for cancer patients, such as antiemetic effects, appetite stimulation, pain relief, and improved sleep.

Fifteen states have legalized the use of marijuana for medical purposes, but the National Cancer Institute is the only federal agency to formally recognize it as medicine.

The NCI's original paragraph, published on March 17, read:

The potential benefits of medicinal Cannabis for people living with cancer include antiemetic effects, appetite stimulation, pain relief, and improved sleep. In the practice of integrative oncology, the health care provider may recommend medicinal Cannabis not only for symptom management but also for its possible direct antitumor effect.

The new paragraph reads:

The potential benefits of medicinal Cannabis for people living with cancer include antiemetic effects, appetite stimulation, pain relief, and improved sleep. Though no relevant surveys of practice patterns exist, it appears that physicians caring for cancer patients who prescribe medicinal Cannabis predominantly do so for symptom management.