Continued from page 1

In addition to the contradictions between federal and state law, Mr. Hermes said, the NCI’s Web posting there is now a contradiction within the Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees both NCI and other federal agencies that do not recognize a medical use.

“The federal government is walking a very fine line with respect to what is really a double standard, that is, [it] can say that marijuana has therapeutic value, and yet at the same time say that there’s no evidence that supports really the statements being made,” he said.

A spokesman for HHS did not respond to a request for comment in time for this article.

An NCI spokeswoman directed questions about political pressure to Dr. Jeffrey White, director of the Office of Cancer Complementary and Alternative Medicine. But the spokeswoman said Dr. White wasn’t available for an interview until Thursday.

In a sign of how far the medical marijuana industry has moved into the mainstream, marijuana industry advocates hosted a Washington press briefing Wednesday to talk up the industry’s economic impact and plead with the government to recognize them as legitimate.

“The truth here is that the industry is creating jobs, generating tax revenue and providing a product to patients that is far less harmful than many pharmaceutical products out there, and it is just time the government treats it like a true American business,” Steve Fox, spokesman for the National Cannabis Industry Association, said at a briefing at the National Press Club.

Industry officials project that the legal medical cannabis market will reach $1.7 billion in 2011.

Josh Brown contributed to this report.