The positive effects of using cannabis to alleviate cancer symptoms have been well documented, the U.S. government continues to classify cannabis as a Schedule I drug — high potential for abuse and no known medical use. Consequently, the federal government’s position on cannabis stifles much-needed research on cannabis as a “cure” for cancer.
We do know that cannabis is truly an amazing medicine for many cancer and treatment-related side effects — nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, pain, depression, anxiety, insomnia.
"Cannabinoids possess ... anti-cancer activity [and may] possibly represent a new class of anti-cancer drugs that retard cancer growth, inhibit angiogenesis (the formation of new blood vessels) and the metastatic spreading of cancer cells," as concluded in
a comprehensive review published in the October 2005 issue of the scientific journal Mini-Reviews in Medicinal Chemistry.
Research has demonstrated that cannabinoids may stop the growth of cancers — including breast, brain, liver, pheochromocytoma, melanoma, leukemia, and other kinds of cancer — from growing or spreading. Cannabinoids have proven to promote the death of tumor cells (apoptosis), while stopping angiogenesis, blood vessel production, to the tumor.
One study, conducted by Madrid’s Complutense University, showed that in a third of the rats treated, the injection of synthetic THC eliminated malignant brain tumors while extending their life by 36%.
Ironically, the federally-funded National Cancer Institute has warmed up to cannabis as a cancer treatment and has even very quietly acknowledged that cannabis has been shown to kill cancer cells in preclinical studies. Yet, the federal government has yet to make any significant strides to adjust their position. There is a reason for this. The reason is money.
Doctors are hesitant to abandon their preconceived notions and acknowledge the therapeutic potential of cannabis-based treatments. Doctors tiptoe around this issue, as the DEA frolics in emphasizing to us, cannabis remains a Schedule I narcotic. Doctors are more focused on factors other than what the best treatment for their patients are. Some are worried about the legal implications of recommending a treatment option the federal government considers criminal. Others are far too enamored with the pharmaceutical industry, which spends $4.1 billion per year advertising their "medicines" directly to consumers, and $20+ billion per year marketing drugs directly to DOCTORS.
For over 30 years, US politicians and bureaucrats have systematically turned a blind eye to scientific research indicating that marijuana can play a role in cancer prevention -- a finding that was first documented in the 70's.
In 1974 a research team at the Medical College of Virginia (acting at the command of the federal government) discovered that cannabis constrained malignant tumor cell growth in culture and in mice. According to the study's results, reported nationally in an Aug. 18, 1974, Washington Post newspaper feature, administration of marijuana's primary cannabinoid THC, "slowed the growth of lung cancers, breast cancers and a virus-induced leukemia in laboratory mice, and prolonged their lives by as much as 36 percent."
Patent No. 6,630,507: Why then does the U.S. government hold a patent on cannabis plant compounds?
Naturally, it shows the hypocrisy that there is ‘no accepted medical use’ for cannabis according to federal law, and yet here you have the very same government owning a patent for, officially, a medical use for marijuana.
Despite the favorable preclinical findings, the US government officials dismissed the study (which was eventually published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute in 1975), and refused to fund any follow-up research until conducting a similar -- though secret -- clinical trial in the mid-1990s. That study, conducted by the US National Toxicology Program to the tune of $2 million concluded that mice and rats administered high doses of THC over long periods experienced greater protection against malignant tumors than untreated controls.
Rather than publicize their findings, government researchers once again shelved the results, which only came to light after a draft copy of its findings were leaked in 1997 to a medical journal, which in turn forwarded the story to the national media.
More recently, investigators published pre-clinical findings
demonstrating that cannabinoids may play a role in restricting cell growth of colorectal cancer, skin carcinoma, breast cancer, and prostate cancer, among other conditions.
When investigators compared the efficacy of natural cannabinoids to that of a synthetic agonist, THC proved far more beneficial – selectively decreasing the proliferation of malignant cells and inducing apoptosis more rapidly than its synthetic alternative while simultaneously leaving healthy cells unscathed.
As we search for cancer treatments, the potential of cannabis as a anti-cancer treatment has been examined in multiple scientific studies on cannabinoid receptors and endocannabinoids, resulting in extremely promising leads.