Federal Government accepts that cannabis fights cancer… But no one is listening
In 2011 the United States government’s official cancer body, the National Cancer Institute, added this one sentence to their cancer.gov website in reference to cannabis: “In the practice of integrative oncology, the health care provider may recommend medicinal Cannabis not only for symptom management but also for its possible direct antitumor effect.”
However, a few days later the paragraph was altered to remove the antitumor reference. Here’s the before and after screenshot:
It was assumed that some political pressure had been applied to the NCI, and documents which subsequently came to light confirmed it. A week after the document was published on cancer.gov, Susan Weiss, who works for the National Institutes on Drug Abuse (NIDA) emailed the NCI. She expressed her dissatisfaction with the wording of the text and recommended a number of changes. These included:
- Mentioning that the FDA hasn’t approved marijuana
- Removing any suggestion that the NCI recommends cannabis to cancer patients
- Adding a new sentence in which the “addiction potential” of cannabis is emphasized
- Adding link to NIDA’s own page on the adverse effects of marijuana
In response to this interference, Rick Manrow of the NCI agreed that the first two requests could be accepted but disagreed with the latter two. Manrow said, “I am unaware of any convincing evidence indicating that marijuana is addictive.”
With the text altered without NCI board approval, Dr Donald Abrams, director of integrative oncology at the University of California-San Francisco cancer center, and a member of that board had this to say, “I am considering resigning from the Board if we allow politics to trump science!”
His frustration is well founded. A board of cancer experts had worked on the text and come to a mutual agreement vis-a-vis the exact wording. Then a group of people who are not cancer experts overruled them.
By suggesting that cannabis might fight against tumors and then retracting this a few days later, the NCI had not only defied science but had betrayed their own mission statement to support “research, training, health information dissemination, and other programs with respect to the cause, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of cancer”.
2013: The National Cancer Institute Grows A Pair
After a couple of years of inactivity on the cannabis/cancer front, the NCI finally revised their website again in 2013. This time, however, it was not a few words about cannabis. It was a whole page devoted to scienfic research. 1083 words to be precise.
Here are some of the highlights of this dissertation:
In an in vivo model using severe combined immunodeficient mice, subcutaneous tumors were generated by inoculating the animals with cells from human non-small cell lung carcinoma cell lines. Tumor growth was inhibited by 60% in THC-treated mice compared with vehicle-treated control mice. Tumor specimens revealed that THC had antiangiogenic and antiproliferative effects. However, research with immunocompetent murine tumor models has demonstrated immunosuppression and enhanced tumor growth in mice treated with THC.
An in vitro study of the effect of CBD on programmed cell death in breast cancer cell lines found that CBD induced programmed cell death, independent of the CB1, CB2, or vanilloid receptors. CBD inhibited the survival of both estrogen receptor–positive and estrogen receptor–negative breast cancer cell lines, inducing apoptosis in a concentration-dependent manner while having little effect on nontumorigenic, mammary cells.
cannabinoids were shown to trigger cell death through stimulation of an endoplasmic reticulum stress pathway that activates autophagy and promotes apoptosis. Other investigations have confirmed that CB1 and CB2 receptors may be potential targets in non-small cell lung carcinoma  and breast cancer.
And so on.
This official chronicling of research was a long overdue but enormously significant step. Why? Because the U.S. government is acknowledging that cannabis does appear to kill cancer cells. The NCI are bringing credibility to the whole concept that cannabis might soon replace chemotherapy as the first treatment option for cancer.
One in three of us will get cancer in our lifetimes. One in three. For the government to publish this research must have been a huge news story… right?
Nope. The only coverage was from pro-cannabis websites:
Yet, apart from these established pro-pot sources no one else even gave it a mention. At all. Even CNN, whose own Sanjay Gupta mentioned the possibility that cannabis might fight cancer in his “Weed” documentary.
Why this news blackout happened is a total mystery to me. If the government mentioning this pro-cannabis research wasn’t newsworthy on its own, then how about taking this hypocrisy angle to add some spice:
The US government is simultaneously telling us that marijuana kills cancer cells, while also telling us it has no medical uses whatsoever and should remain a Schedule 1 substance.
How is that not a juicy news story that journalists would want to run with?
I genuinely don’t get it.
Spread The Word: The Time is Now
Do you agree that something must be done about this? If you feel that the mainstream media needs to start talking about the role cannabis appears to play in fighting cancer then please use the buttons below to share this article around the internet.
Let’s face it, the newspapers and governments aren’t going to take the lead. Their brilliant plan is “do nothing and hope it all goes away”. As if cancer is ever “going away”. It’s up to us. We the people need to force our media and political class to discuss this. We need to spread the word.