“Medical marijuana is just an excuse for druggies to get high.”
The officer paced the length of the stage as he spoke, his words authoritative, emphasized as unquestionable fact. He was fielding questions following a thirty minute lecture he had given the all-school assembly on the dangers of illegal drugs after four of my classmates had been expelled for marijuana possession. This particular statement was a response to an upper classman, who had brought up the concept of medical marijuana, a new and highly controversial concept that was still two years out from a vote in California (this was 1994). Being that I attended a religious high school, the next question was regarding the “seed-bearing herb” argument, which he refuted by pointing out that God cursed the ground with weeds after Eve ate the fruit (allegedly, of course).
“What is marijuana’s nickname?” he asked rhetorically. “Weed. Marijuana is a curse.” It’s amazing how easy it is to make our sacred texts say whatever we want them to say.
How far we’ve come. It’s been 21 years since that assembly took place and I have long since shaken the indoctrination that was inflicted on me that day. The nation has followed suit as well, albeit at a slower pace. Whereas the officer’s knee-jerk response to medical cannabis was par for the course in the Clinton era, the application has now been accepted state-wide in nearly half the nation.
New information has continued to trickle out from the medical community on an almost daily basis, as one study after another has yielded exciting discoveries regarding the healing capacities of cannabis. Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Epilepsy, PTSD and so many more afflictions have all been shown to be treatable by cannabis to one extent or another. But the field of interest in which the most exciting and yet controversial discoveries have been made has been that of cancer, humanity’s most deadly enemy.
By now, most of us have heard the Rick Simpson story, the harrowing tale of how a rural Canadian who was diagnosed with skin cancer discovered on his own that his condition could be treated with a cannabis oil extract. Since his discovery, thousands of individuals in the U.S. and Canada have used his treatment method, and with overwhelming success. But at the end of the day, though Simpson based his work on scientific studies conducted in the ‘70s, he himself is not a scientist nor a doctor and therefore the evidence he has presented must be viewed as anecdotal at best, though still compelling.
But today, science is quickly catching up with what cannabis activists have known for decades. Even the American Cancer Society and the officially sanctioned National Cancer Institute have come around, a stride in progress that would have been nearly unthinkable ten years ago. Yet, most of the leaders of this great nation, as well as those currently campaigning to join those ranks, seem to be clinging on to the long since refuted notion spouted off in the assembly hall of my high school two decades ago. How do we move forward when those vying to head our great nation still hold to the same ideas on medicine as an undereducated, superstition-bound traffic cop from a previous era? With facts. When utilized as intended, science has no political agenda. It presents truth and truth alone, or at least, the best glimpse we have of truth so far.
It would take days, if not months to properly discuss all of the truths so far uncovered about medical marijuana and cancer. However, it’s important that as cannabis activists, we arm ourselves with facts in order to counter the still persistent propaganda that keeps so many of our fellow citizens sick. Policies are changed one mind at a time, after all. Here are 7 facts about marijuana and its effect on cancer, backed up by sound research.
- Studies have shown that medical marijuana is effective in treating the side-effects of chemotherapy, both in relieving pain and restoring appetite, as noted by the American Cancer Society. This is somewhat old news, yet many in our population are still in denial.
- The National Cancer Institute has confirmed that studies on lab rats show that cannabis “may inhibit tumor growth by causing cell death, blocking cell growth, and blocking the development of blood vessels needed by tumors to grow.”
- Getting past the lab rats: The British Journal of Cancer, through a clinical study, has concluded that THC inhibits brain tumor growth. They determined the treatment to be both safe and possible without psychoactive effects.
- Studies dating as far back as 2001 have suggested that the active compounds in cannabis have neuroprotective qualities, which could serve to further slow down the degenerative effects of cancer on the brain.
- Both CBD and THC have been shown in multiple studies to be effective in both inhibiting the development of breast cancer as well as reducing tumor mass.
- A study published in the National Library of Medicine stated that “cannabinoids should be considered as agents for the management of prostate cancer.
- The National Cancer Institute has also concluded that Cannabis use causes a 45% remission in bladder, breast and liver cancer.
These are only a handful of the facts and were selected somewhat arbitrarily by level of accessibility. The evidence is everywhere. Do your own research. This is a good starting point, but is barely a drop in the bucket compared to the oceans of evidence out there, which, like the tides of our warming planet, are growing by the day, thanks to a steady stream of newer and even more conclusive research. The evidence is abundant and the jury has reached its verdict: cannabis kills cancer and saves lives. Spread the word.