Last year, the National Cancer Institute — “the U.S. government’s principal agency for cancer research” — created a stir by publishing the truth: the molecules found in pot kill breast and lung cancers in lab tests. Marijuana remains a federally illegal, schedule 1 drug with “no medical use” and “a high potential for abuse”, so the NCI was pressured to take down the statement. But it remains.
Last week, a press release falsely attributed to NBC News indicated that the NCI’s statement was new. It’s not. But it’s worth repeating: pot kills cancer, so why is the federal government arresting hundreds of medical cannabis patients and providers across the country?
Here’s the germane NCI statement:
“Studies in mice and rats have shown that cannabinoids may inhibit tumor growth by causing cell death, blocking cell growth, and blocking the development of blood vessels needed by tumors to grow. Laboratory and animal studies have shown that cannabinoids may be able to kill cancer cells while protecting normal cells.
A study in mice showed that cannabinoids may protect against inflammation of the colon and may have potential in reducing the risk of colon cancer, and possibly in its treatment.
A laboratory study of delta-9-THC in hepatocellular carcinoma (liver cancer) cells showed that it damaged or killed the cancer cells. The same study of delta-9-THC in mouse models of liver cancer showed that it had antitumor effects. Delta-9-THC has been shown to cause these effects by acting on molecules that may also be found in non-small cell lung cancer cells and breast cancer cells.
A laboratory study of cannabidiol in estrogen receptor positive and estrogen receptor negative breast cancer cells showed that it caused cancer cell death while having little effect on normal breast cells.”
How many people have pot prohibition killed, in terms of cancer patients not treated and research not done? Marijuana: Gateway to Health author Clint Werner says potentially tens of thousands.
“These federal policies hurt people. That’s one reason I get angry. When you know these compounds block the progression of cancer and you do research to promote the idea that it doesn’t work, when it really does — this is evil. It’s a moral evil to keep people from having these remedies.”
For more on cannabis and cancer, read my interview in CULTURE magazine with Dr. Donald Abrams, chief of Oncology and Hematology at San Francisco General Hospital.
Smell the Truth » Worth repeating: National Cancer Institute says pot fights cancer.