Supporters of medical marijuana often make many claims - that cannabis relieves pain, is an anti-inflammatory, increases appetite, suppresses nausea and aids sleep. Given the negative side effects associated with many pharmaceutical medications for these purposes, the use of marijuana as an all-natural alternative seems plausible to about 80% of Americans (PDF). However, there is another voice from the medical marijuana world that started out as a tentative whisper, but is becoming louder and more certain: marijuana has the potential to cure some of the most insidious diseases known to man, including the big C - Cancer.
Scientists at the California Pacific Medical Center are about to release their third set of data on the influence of cannabidiol (CBD) on the death of human breast cancer cells. "The preclinical trial data is very strong, and there's no toxicity.There's really a lot of research to move ahead with and to get people excited," said Sean McAllister
, who along with scientist Pierre Desprez
, has been studying the active molecules in marijuana - called cannabinoids - as potent inhibitors of metastatic disease for the past decade.” Specifically, CBD “seems to have the ability to ‘turn off’ the activity of a gene responsible for metastasis in breast and other types of cancers”. Treating cancer cells with CBD made them stop “acting crazy” and return to normal; a result that shocked even the scientists conducting the experiment.
Interestingly, CBD is not a psychoactive compound, so there is no “high” associated with its use. However, the mere fact that it resides in the cannabis plant alongside THC, which is psychoactive, makes it just as “dangerous” as other illicit substances according to Federal drug laws. Cannabis, and all of the active cannabinoids found in the plant are considered Schedule I drugs, deemed by the Federal government to have “no medical value”. This distinction is a barrier to conducting important research such as the ability of these compounds to treat cancer and other diseases. The scientists studying the impact of CBD on cancer have not yet been able to examine this phenomenon in humans largely because of this restriction. Now that they have shown the success of CBD in the petri dish and in rats, they are hoping to move on to human clinical trials.
The fact that CBD is found in the same vessel as the psychoactive THC makes little difference to those who are being treated for cancer and might benefit from the use of CBD, such as Susan Rancourt
, who was just diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer in July and is in the middle of chemotherapy. "I don't care if it comes from acorns," she said. "It's not the source, it's the result."