Nearly half of cancer specialists surveyed said they had recommended at least one of their patients break the law and use marijuana to counter nausea from chemotherapy, researchers reported Tuesday.

Mark Kleiman and Richard Doblin of Harvard University surveyed 1,035 randomly selected members of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in the spring of 1990.In a letter in the Annals of Internal Medicine, the pair said 44 percent of those surveyed said they had advised at least one of their patients to smoke marijuana even though it is illegal. In addition, 48 percent said they would prescribe marijuana if it were legal.

The survey was conducted in response to a court battle with the Drug Enforcement Administration over marijuana. The DEA has refused to allow marijuana to be made available by prescription for medical use, questioning evidence of its medical usefulness.

The U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington last week ordered the DEA to review the prohibition.

Robert Randall, Alliance for Cannabis Therapeutics, said the survey shows there is "widespread acceptance of marijuana's medical use."