39.6% of Americans will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in the lives.
Oncologists support the option of recommending cannabis as part of a treatment program for patients suffering from cancer.
While it well documented that using cannabis has positive effects to alleviate cancer symptoms, the U.S. government continues to classify cannabis as a Schedule I drug. Schedule I is for drugs the government considers as high potential for abuse and no known medical use.
Unfortunately, the federal government’s position on cannabis stifles much needed research on cannabis as a “cure” for cancer.
The word cure has enormous implications. Cure usually implies that the patient has survived 5 years without evidence of this cancer. Doctors are able to cure more cancers today due to advances in diagnosis and treatment with conventional therapies.
The anti-cancer potential of cannabis has been examined in numerous scientific studies on cannabinoid receptors and endocannabinoids, which is a promising lead.
Significant research has demonstrated that cannabinoids may inhibit or stop the growth of cancer from spreading or growing.
Additionally, cannabinoids have proven to promote apoptosis, the programmed death of tumor cells, while stopping blood vessel production to the tumor.
The research has been promising but it has been limited to preclinical studies. Preclinical studies are studies of drugs or treatments in animals prior to being carried out in humans. Although preclinical research offers hope, clinical research needs to be done. In order for cannabis to find its way into routine clinical cancer treatment, rigorous pharmacological and clinical studies need to be done.
The federally-funded National Cancer Institute has warmed up to cannabis as a cancer treatment and has even acknowledged that cannabis has been shown to kill cancer cells in preclinical studies. Regardless of these acknowledgements, the federal government has yet to make any significant strides to align their position with the scientific community.
Researchers are hopeful that with more and more states legalizing medical usage the federal government will modify its prohibitory position on cancer, and the process to clinical trials of cannabis will be accelerated.