Marijuana As Opiate Deterrent?

Editor’s note:

Here is a section about Cannabis’ effect on opioid dependence from 2009 that has now been removed from the Medical Cannabis article on Wikipedia. The only mention of “opioids” in presently is: “the use [of medical cannabis  for pain] appears safer than that of opioids.”

Opioid dependence

Injections of THC eliminate dependence on opiates in stressed rats, according to a research team at the Laboratory for Physiopathology of Diseases of the Central Nervous System (France) in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology. Deprived of their mothers at birth, rats become hypersensitive to the rewarding effect of morphine and heroin (substances belonging to the opiate family), and rapidly become dependent. When these rats were administered THC, they no longer developed typical morphine-dependent behavior. In the striatum, a region of the brain involved in drug dependence, the production of endogenous enkephalins was restored under THC, whereas it diminished in rats stressed from birth which had not received THC. Researchers believe the findings could lead to therapeutic alternatives to existing substitution treatments.[1][2]

In humans, drug treatment subjects who use cannabis intermittently are found to be more likely to adhere to treatment for opioid dependence.[3] Historically, similar findings were reported by Clendinning, who in 1843 utilized cannabis substitution for the treatment of alcoholism and opium addiction[4] and Birch, in 1889, who reported success in treating opiate and chloral addiction with cannabis.[5]


From The Fix

Marijuana As Opiate Deterrent?

*First of all, I would just like to say that I am reporting what I have found on this topic and sharing my thoughts with you from a neutral point of view. I am not pro-legalize marijuana or against. If anything, I come to you as a man in recovery a little skeptical about the claims that I read which caused me to investigate this further. With that being said, let’s begin.

I don’t know about you all, but when I first saw the words “States that legalized Medical Marijuana had 25% fewer opioid-related deaths!” by the company Weedsmap. I chuckled to myself and said now that’s a brilliant marketing strategy. Then reminded myself a drug, is a drug, is a drug like I have had pounded into my brain through my many years at and in recovery and went about my day.

I have to admit though that phrase has been kicking around in the back of my head for three days now. So tonight I thought I might do a little research of my own. Holy smokes seems appropriate right about now because there is just from my searching over some 170 articles out there on the topic and a few bonafide studies that have been conducted that blew me right out of the water here.

Let’s start with challenging my current recovery beliefs with this new information and see if by doing so it does not cause you to do the same. So what if a drug, is a drug, is a drug, but one of those drugs is showing amazing medical benefits. And is lowering the deaths of those addicted to opiates by some 25% just to scratch the surface. Has been legalized in several states, and has shown to not increase drug use any, but some may say through these findings helps to reduce it. Would that drug then become an acceptable form of Opioid Replacement Therapy (ORT)?

Would we be able to sit in our chosen recovery support meetings and gladly honor someone celebrating their clean time if they are smoking medical marijuana as an ORT? Good question huh? At first, I was immediately on the defensive as my years of being drilled in the art of recovery came to the forefront of my mind to defend their hard-earned beliefs. But then as the days passed by my mind began to open and I have been allowed to think on the subject objectively and without prejudice.

Let me share with you a few of the facts that I have found regarding the claim I saw on the billboard that day, and let you come up with your own conclusion. First, I found a study that was conducted by professionals from John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Philadelphia Veterans Medical Center.

Their findings although not earth-shattering, but promising, stated in a nutshell that they believe if medical marijuana were made widely available to treat pain that it is possible to see a drop in the percentage of opioid-related deaths.

For one reason, opiate prescriptions would be widely replaced with medical marijuana in some form. Whether the traditional, or topical, edible or in liquid, And to date, as far as my research has found. There has not been one overdose-related death linked to marijuana in any form.

Secondly, Yuyan Shi authored the findings from a University of San Diego study which found that in states with legalized medical marijuana the number of people being hospitalized for opioid addiction or dependence dropped on average 23%. While the number of opiate-related overdoses treated in those states Hospital Emergency Rooms dropped on average 13%. There is an article to back up all my findings here.

Dr. Esther Choo from the Oregon Health and Science University says, “It is becoming increasingly clear that battling the opioid epidemic will require a multi-pronged approach and a good deal of creativity.” “Could increased liberalization of marijuana be part of the solution?” It seems plausible she was quoted as saying. She closed with “there is still much we need to understand about the mechanisms through which marijuana policy may affect opioid use and harms.”

Any thoughts yet? I have a couple, now that I have found what I read on the billboard to be a little misleading, but there is definitely some truth to their claims. I believe that we are fighting one of the fiercest enemies the United States of America has ever had to contend with in the OpiodeEpedemic. I believe that it is going to take some either unconventional or maybe even unheard of therapy’s added to the ones we are currently using to become victorious in this war.

In 2015 the Center for Disease Control estimates that we lost over 33,000 people to opiate-related deaths. I did the simple math that works out to 90.41 deaths a day! This should not be so, and if by allowing people to use marijuana to relieve pain vs taking opiates works to lower that number even by 1. Then I will gladly honor all of those folks clean time in recovery if that is helping them, Will You?

*Jama Internal Medicine full study report on these findings if you care to inquire.

About the Author: Marc is a 48-year-old Author, Speaker, and Soldier in a war to loosen the grasp that Substance Abuse has on our society. He is a Father, Son, and friend to all those seeking refuge from this incorrigible disease. Marc resides in the beautiful Pacific Northwest where he enjoys, writing, hiking, and kicking the disease of addiction in the teeth, every chance he gets. As Marc always likes to say, “be blessed, my friends!”

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Fentanyl Maker Donates Big to Campaign Opposing Pot Legalization

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Supporters of an Arizona campaign to legalize marijuana say opponents should return a donation from a drug company that produces fentanyl, a powerful painkiller known for killing illegal drug users. (Getty Images)

 

An embattled pharmaceutical company that sells the powerful painkiller fentanyl has donated $500,000 toward defeating a ballot initiative that would make recreational use of marijuana legal under Arizona law.

It’s hard to imagine a more sinister donor than Insys Therapeutics Inc. in the eyes of pot legalization proponents, who long have claimed drug companies want to keep cannabis illegal to corner the market for drugs, some addictive and dangerous, that relieve pain and other symptoms.

Insys currently markets just one product, according to an August filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission: a sublingual fentanyl spray it calls Subsys.

Two former company employees pleaded not guilty last month to federal charges related to an alleged kickback scheme to get doctors to prescribe Subsys.

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan filed a lawsuit late last month against the company alleging Insys hawked the drug to doctors for off-label prescribing, saying the company’s “desire for increased profits led it to disregard patients’ health and push addictive opioids for non-FDA approved purposes.”

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid significantly more potent than heroin that can cause overdoses, especially when it’s used to cut the supply of illegally sourced drugs. The musician Prince died from an accidental fentanyl overdose in April.

Insys made its large contribution to the anti-legalization campaign group Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy on Aug. 31, according to information posted online by the Arizona secretary of state’s office.

Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy campaign manager Adam Deguire tells U.S. News that legalization foes will not return the donation. In a statement he expressed gratitude and stressed that Insys is based in Arizona, unlike the Marijuana Policy Project, which has contributed substantially toward passing the initiative.

A voicemail requesting comment from Insys was not immediately returned.

Advocates for the marijuana legalization initiative Proposition 205, which is up 10 percentage points in a poll released Wednesday by the Arizona Republic, condemned the donation.

J.P. Holyoak, chairman of the initiative-backing Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, said in a statement that “we are truly shocked by our opponents’ decision to keep a donation from what appears to be one of the more unscrupulous members of Big Pharma.”

Holyoak said: “Our opponents have made a conscious decision to associate with this company. They are now funding their campaign with profits from the sale of opioids – and maybe even the improper sale of opioids. We hope that every Arizonan understands that Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy is now a complete misnomer. Their entire campaign is tainted by this money. Any time an ad airs against Prop. 205, the voters should know that it was paid for by highly suspect Big Pharma actors.”

From 2011 through at least last year, Insys also sold a second product: a generic equivalent to Marinol, a synthetic version of the cannabinoid THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), which the Food and Drug Administration allows for treatment of cancer and HIV-related symptoms like nausea and loss of appetite, which cannabis advocates say the raw plant material can treat without a corporate middleman. Insys said in its August filing it has no plans to resume those sales, though it is preparing a similar drug.

Marijuana legalization supporters say legal access to cannabis, which does not cause overdose deaths, could help combat overuse of medicine that serves as an on-ramp to potentially life-destroying addictions.

Johns Hopkins University researchers concluded in 2014, after studying the effects of state medical marijuana laws through 2010, that “medical cannabis laws are associated with significantly lower state-level opioid overdose mortality rates.”

Currently, 25 states have laws allowing residents to use marijuana as medicine, though the plant remains a federally illegal Schedule I substance, which is defined as having no accepted medical value.

The Obama administration has allowed states broad leeway to regulate sales of marijuana for recreational or medical use, despite federal prohibition, and major-party presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have indicated they would pursue a similar approach.

Arizona voters legalized medical marijuana in an initiative that won by about a 4,000-vote margin in 2010, and supporters of this year’s legalization initiative expect the ultimate vote to be close again, perhaps the closest of the five states – including Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada and California – that also will consider joining the four pioneering pot legalization states and the nation’s capital in November.

Pro-legalization campaign spokesman Barrett Marson says if the other side has any shame they will return Insys’ donation, which is far and away the largest received by opponents to date.

Updated on Sept. 8, 2016: Comment from Adam Deguire was added to this article.

Gov’t Ruined 653,249 Lives Over Cannabis in 2016 Because 5 Corrupt Industries Paid Them To


cannabis

In the land of the free, citizens found in possession of a plant — that grows wild on every continent except Antarctica — can and will be kidnapped, caged or killed. In fact, in just the short time it took you to click this article and read this first paragraph, someone was just arrested for cannabis.

According to the most recent FBI statistics available, an American citizen is kidnapped and caged for cannabis — on average — every 48 seconds.

An estimated 653,249 American citizens — who harmed no one — had their lives ruined in 2016 for possessing this plant, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s annual Crime In the United States (CIUS) report.

“Arresting and citing over half a million people a year for a substance that is objectively safer than alcohol is a travesty,” said Morgan Fox, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). “Despite a steady shift in public opinion away from marijuana prohibition, and the growing number of states that are regulating marijuana like alcohol, marijuana consumers continue to be treated like criminals throughout the country. This is a shameful waste of resources and can create lifelong consequences for the people arrested.”

Arresting people for cannabis is good for business — police state and big pharma business, that is. If we look at who’s lobbying to keep cops kidnapping people for a plant, we see that it is money, and not morals, that motivates this issue.

The prison-industrial complex makes obscene amounts of money kidnapping otherwise innocent people and throwing them in a cage for possessing a plant. Big pharma is also scared to death of pot because it is a cheaper, safer, and often more effective solution to sicknesses than their chemical alternatives.

According to a report out of US News, lobbyists work hard to secure for police departments millions of dollars in federal grants towards eradicating weed. Pharmaceutical companies compensate leading anti-marijuana researchers in order to keep their customers on painkillers over cannabis, which is cheaper. The prison-industrial complex would like to keep making money on building more prisons to fill with non-violent grass-smokers.

It’s not just cops and big pharma either, legal drug distributors in the alcohol and tobacco industries need to keep cannabis illegal in order maintain their monopoly on ‘taking the edge off.’

According to the report, the alcohol and beer industries have also lobbied for years to keep marijuana illegal because they fear the competition that legalized weed would bring. Howard Wooldridge, an anti-drug war activist and retired cop told the online publication Republic Report: “Marijuana and alcohol compete right today as a product to take the edge off the day at six o’clock.”

Despite the myriad of evidence showing the harmful economic and societal impacts of arresting people for cannabis, cops, prisons, big pharma, and the alcohol and tobacco industries continue to push for illegal weed. As they lie about arresting people for a plant in your best interests, the police state is wreaking havoc on liberty, freedom, and the economy. It is deadly too.

While there’s never been a documented overdose from cannabis, if the CDC calculated the number of deaths inflicted by police while enforcing marijuana laws, that number would certainly be shocking and could even be deemed a risk to public health. Marijuana is, indeed, dangerous, but only because of what can happen to you if the police catch you with it — just ask the 653,249 people who had their lives ruined for it last year.

Nothing highlights the hypocrisy, immorality, and sheer idiocy of the drug war quite like marijuana prohibition. Here we have a medicine that kills cancer cells, saves the lives of countless epileptic children, heals broken bones, relieves pain, treats PTSD, is not dangerous, and exhibits a variety of other incredible benefits – yet the state will kill you over it.

Keeping cannabis illegal also creates more crime.

In the study, titled, “Going to pot? The impact of dispensary closures on crime,” researchers Tom Y. Chang from the USC Marshall School of Business, and Mireille Jacobson from The Paul Merage School of Business at UC Irvine, looked at what happens with the government forced medical marijuana dispensaries to close. What they found was immediately following a closure of a dispensary — crime rates went up.

“Contrary to popular wisdom, we found an immediate increase in crime around dispensaries ordered to close relative to those allowed to remain open,” Jacobson told Science Daily.

Also, in 2001, the Portuguese government decriminalized all drugs, and their crime rate dropped. 16 years later, drug use, crime, and overdoses have drastically declined in Portugal exposing the cruel reality of prohibition.

“Regulating marijuana for adults creates jobs, generates tax revenue, protects consumers, and takes money away from criminals,” Fox said on behalf of MPP. “It is time for the federal government and the rest of the states to stop ruining peoples’ lives and enact sensible marijuana policies.”

We agree.

The good news is that the tide is shifting. As MPP notes, there are currently eight states that regulate marijuana similarly to alcohol for adults, four of which voted to do so in November 2016. Marijuana possession is also legal for adults in the District of Columbia. Twenty-three states and D.C. considered legislation in 2017 to regulate marijuana, including in Vermont where the legislature approved such a measure before the governor vetoed it.

As more and more states refuse to kidnap and cage marijuana users, the drug war will continue to implode. We must be resilient in this fight.

If doing drugs bothers you, don’t do drugs. When you transition from holding an opinion — to using government violence to enforce your personal preference, you become the bad guy. Please, for all that is good, don’t be the bad guy and do your part to stay on the right side of history.

 

DEA approves synthetic marijuana for big pharma company against legalization

Editor’s note: There is already a pharm-version of THC (Marinol), and it has already killed 4 people. That information was added to Wikipedia in 2012 but was later removed. Their audience will never know that fake THC is deadly.

Here is the bit that was removed:

Although there has never been a documented human fatality from overdosing on tetrahydrocannabinol or cannabis in its natural form [source], synthetic THC in the form of “Marinol” was cited by the FDA as being responsible for 4 human deaths between January 1, 1997 and June 30, 2005. [source]

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From Blooms Mag ~

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A synthetic marijuana product could be available for commercialization after the DEA gave a newly approved drug a schedule II classification.

On Thursday, Insys Therapeutics announced that the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) issued an interim final rule that would put Syndros, their synthetic marijuana drug, on Schedule II of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA).

“Insys is looking forward to bringing this new drug product to chemotherapy patients to help alleviate their nausea and vomiting and AIDS patients with anorexia associated weight loss, respectively,” Dr. Santosh Vetticaden, interim CEO, said in the announcement.

“We look forward to interacting with the FDA to finalize the labeling and subsequent launch of Syndros in the second half of 2017,” Vetticaden said.

Syndros is a synthetic version of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main psychoactive component in the plant. In July 206, the company announced the FDA approved their liquid form of synthetic THC to treat anorexia associated AIDS patients, and nausea and vomiting induced by cancer patients going through chemotherapy.

The DEA approval placed Syndros and its generic formulations in schedule II of the CSA, which is reserved for drugs that have “a high potential for abuse, with use potentially leading to severe psychological or physical dependence.”

While some Schedule II drugs can be used for medical purposes, like Vicodin, oxycodone, Adderall, and many prescription painkillers, Schedule I drugs are all federally illegal. Non-synthetic marijuana is a Schedule I drug, which is reserved for drugs that have “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.”

In 2011, Insys wrote a letter to the DEA, urging them to maintain the Schedule I status for non-synthetic marijuana, citing “a longstanding policy of the United States to disfavor domestic cultivation of narcotic raw materials because of concerns about the abuse potential from farming of this material.”

Insys also opposed legalization in Arizona, donating $500,000 to Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy, a group opposing Proposition 205, an initiative to legalize and regulate marijuana like alcohol in Arizona.

In a statement, Insys said it opposed Prop 205, “because it fails to protect the safety of Arizona’s citizens, and particularly its children,” according to the Arizona Republic.

The proposition was narrowly defeated in the state, meaning users in Arizona could face felony charges for possessing even small amounts of the plant.

JP Holyoak, chairman of the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in Arizona, says Insys funded the opposition “to kill a non-pharmaceutical market for marijuana in order to line their own pockets,” according to the Washington Post.

In 2007, Insys filed a disclosure statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission, directly stating that marijuana legalization would threaten their products.

“If marijuana or non-synthetic cannabinoids were legalized in the United States, the market for dronabinol product sales would likely be significantly reduced and our ability to generate revenue and our business prospects would be materially adversely affected,” the company said.

The company is currently under investigation for illegally marketing Fentanyl, an opioid that is 50 times stronger than heroin, which has been linked to the death of Prince last year.

In December, several executives at the company were arrested and the CEO was forced to step down after they were charged with using speakers fees to entice doctors to prescribe Subsys, a medication for cancer patients that contains Fentanyl.

“You have a company using profits from the sale of what has been called ‘the most potent and dangerous opioid on the market’ to prevent adults from using a far less harmful substance,” Holyoak said according to the Arizona Republic.

The House Just Stripped Medical Marijuana States Of Protection From The DEA

By James McClure for Civilized Life

States that have legalized medical marijuana could soon get an unwanted visit from the DEA. Yesterday, Congress stunned the cannabis industry by rejecting the only legal protection preventing Attorney General Jeff “good people don’t smoke marijuana” Sessions from cracking down on those 30 states for violating federal cannabis prohibition.

Back in 2014, lawmakers passed an amendment to the federal budget to protect state-legalized medical marijuana industries and the patients they serve. The amendment prevented the DEA from spending a single penny on enforcing cannabis prohibition in those states. It didn’t overturn federal cannabis prohibition or legalize medical marijuana, but it did tie the Department of Justice’s hands by freezing their finances.

At the time, medical marijuana was legal in 21 states, a number that has grown to 30 since then. But they could all be shuttered soon because that amendment — which has to be renewed with every budget — was rejected yesterday by the House Rules Committee. That means the House can’t include the rider in their final version of the federal budget.

If the budget passes without that rider, budtenders, dispensary owners, doctors recommending cannabis and even medical marijuana patients could face prosecution for their involvement in the industry. And not just for what they’re doing right now. They could be charged with offences dating back to when they got involved in the state’s cannabis industry.

And Attorney General Sessions might do just that since he’s been itching to crackdown on those states. Since taking office, Sessions has ramped up anti-marijuana rhetoric in America. And last May, he asked Congress to drop the amendment so that he could unleash the DEA on medical marijuana states if he saw fit. His request was denied in July by the Senate Appropriations Committee, but it seems like his message resonated in the House.

The fight for the marijuana amendment isn’t over yet though. The budget has yet to reach the Senate, where the rider could be re-inserted with support from Senators Cory Booker (D – NJ), Mike Lee (R – UT), Lisa Murkowski (R – AK), Rand Paul (R – KY), Bernie Sanders (D – VT) and others.

But even if it does get reinserted and passed, the amendment only buys patients, doctors and businesses a small window of relief before they have to start looking over their shoulders for DEA helicopters again. The reality is that the industry won’t be safe until Congress listens to the 94 percent of Americans who support medical marijuana and changes the country’s criminally outdated cannabis laws.

 

Is The Marijuana Study To Help Veterans With PTSD Being Sabotaged By The VA?


By Aaron Kesel for Activist Post

An Arizona study on medical marijuana and its benefits for veterans to combat PTSD is in danger of collapsing because researchers can’t find enough participants for the research, Military Times reported.

The first of its kind study funded by a $2.156 million grant from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) awarded to MAPS to sponsor the research, seeks to determine whether marijuana can help manage veterans’ PTSD.

The research has received wide-scale backing from the American Legion and other veterans organizations.

The study is being conducted in Arizona and Maryland and is overseen by Dr. Marcel Bonn-Miller, Ph.D., of the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine and Dr. Sue Sisley, a leading researcher on using marijuana to treat PTSD, in Phoenix, AZ. The other half of the subjects will be treated by Dr. Ryan Vandrey at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD.

Last year, the DEA approved the joint study on marijuana for veterans with PTSD giving formal approval to a controlled clinical trial to study the effectiveness of cannabis and cannabinoid use in patients.

The study then stalled after Dr. Sisley was fired allegedly for her views on medical marijuana, Medical Jane reported.

Sisley is being blamed for the study’s failing for not focusing enough on the study and putting more of her attention on the media, claims VA Press Secretary Curt Cashour.

“If the researcher is truly interested in finding veterans for her study, she should spend more time recruiting candidates and less time writing letters to the media,” Cashour said.

She denies the allegation that it’s her fault citing lack of VA cooperation and criticism from local and federal VA officials Sisley blames them for “not offering more assistance.”

At a White House press briefing in May, Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin was asked about easing rules for medical research on cannabis to help broaden treatment options for veterans.

“Right now, federal law does not prevent us at VA to look at that as an option for veterans,” he said.

I believe that everything that could help veterans should be debated by Congress and by medical experts.

If there is compelling evidence that this is helpful, I hope the people take a look at that and come up with the right decision, and then we will implement that.

“There may be some evidence that this is beginning to be helpful and we’re interested in looking at that and learning from that,” he added.

Cashour has stated that Federal law restricts the VA’s ability to conduct the research or to refer potential candidates.

“Federal law restricts VA’s ability to conduct research involving medical marijuana, or to refer veterans to such research projects,” VA Press Secretary Curt Cashour said. “The researcher is free to work with veterans service organizations and state veterans officials who may not face such restrictions to identify candidates for her study.”

On the side of the DOJ, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has raised the bar on going after drug offenders ordering harsher sentencing and to go after states that legalized marijuana, claiming it causes “violence” despite the fact that the war on drugs has been a complete and total failure. Even Congress is against Sessions’ crusade against medical marijuana, allocating a total of 0$ for his plan to go after non-violent criminals and passing the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment in May which “allows states to carry on with crafting their own medical marijuana policies without fear of federal intervention.”

However, in July the House Committee GOP stopped the “Veterans Equal Access” amendment from moving to debate on the House floor by keeping the measure out of the VA funding bill for next year which would have allowed doctors to recommend medical marijuana as a substitute to big pharma’s opioids where the drug is legal for veterans, so there is poignant opposition as well.

If new participants for the research can’t be found by Oct. 1st, Sisley has said, they may have to shut down the work or expand the study to include non-veterans, which will alter the results she was hoping to collect to determine if marijuana is helpful to veterans suffering from PTSD.

“It was a seven-year saga with federal regulations just to get the study to this point,” she said. “I don’t want to see that lost.”

Maybe there would be more participants if veterans like Kristoffer Lewandowski weren’t being locked up for felony marijuana cultivation, which in Oklahoma carries an outrageous maximum sentence of life in prison for growing a plant.

But really it’s all about the profits and protecting big pharmaceutical companies as former “chief propagandist” for the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) Belita Nelson has admitted: “Marijuana is safe, we know it is safe. It’s our cash cow and we will never give up.”

Could the VA be in bed with Big Pharma? Is that really why they oppose the research?

Aaron Kesel writes for Activist Post and is Director of Content for Coinivore. Follow Aaron at Twitter and Steemit.

This article is Creative Commons and can be republished in full with attribution. Like Activist Post on Facebook, subscribe on YouTube, follow on Twitter and at Steemit.

What Your Government Knows About Cannabis And Cancer — And Isn’t Telling You

[May 2011]

In fact, the first experiment documenting pot’s potent anti-cancer effects took place in 1974 at the Medical College of Virginia at the behest federal bureaucrats. The results of that study, reported in an Aug. 18, 1974, Washington Post newspaper feature, were that marijuana’s primary psychoactive component, THC, “slowed the growth of lung cancers, breast cancers and a virus-induced leukemia in laboratory mice, and prolonged their lives by as much as 36 percent.”

Senator Ted Kennedy is putting forward a brave face following his recent surgery but the sad reality remains. Even with successful surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy treatment, gliomas — a highly aggressive form of brain cancer that strikes approximately 10,000 Americans annually — tragically claim the lives of 75 percent of its victims within two years and virtually all within five years.

But what if there was an alternative treatment for gliomas that could selectively target the cancer while leaving healthy cells intact? And what if federal bureaucrats were aware of this treatment, but deliberately withheld this information from the public?

Sadly, the questions posed above are not entirely hypothetical. Let me explain.

In 2007, I reviewed over 150 published preclinical and clinical studies assessing the therapeutic potential of marijuana and several of its active compounds, known as cannabinoids. I summarized these numerous studies in a book, now in its third edition, entitled Emerging Clinical Applications for Cannabis and Cannabinoids: A Review of the Scientific Literature. (NORML Foundation, 2008) One chapter in this book, which summarized the findings of more than 30 separate trials and literature reviews, was dedicated to the use of cannabinoids as potential anti-cancer agents, particularly in the treatment of gliomas.

Not familiar with this scientific research? Your government is.

In fact, the first experiment documenting pot’s potent anti-cancer effects took place in 1974 at the Medical College of Virginia at the behest federal bureaucrats. The results of that study, reported in an Aug. 18, 1974, Washington Post newspaper feature, were that marijuana’s primary psychoactive component, THC, “slowed the growth of lung cancers, breast cancers and a virus-induced leukemia in laboratory mice, and prolonged their lives by as much as 36 percent.”

Despite these favorable preliminary findings (eventually published the following year in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute), U.S. government officials refused to authorize any follow-up research until conducting a similar — though secret — preclinical trial in the mid-1990s. That study, conducted by the U.S. National Toxicology Program to the tune of $2 million, concluded that mice and rats administered high doses of THC over long periods had greater protection against malignant tumors than untreated controls.

However, rather than publicize their findings, the U.S. government shelved the results, which only became public after a draft copy of its findings were leaked to the medical journal AIDS Treatment News, which in turn forwarded the story to the national media.

In the years since the completion of the National Toxicology trial, the U.S. government has yet to authorize a single additional study examining the drug’s potential anti-cancer properties. (Federal permission is necessary in order to conduct clinical research on marijuana because of its illegal status as a schedule I controlled substance.)

Fortunately, in the past 10 years scientists overseas have generously picked up where U.S. researchers so abruptly left off, reporting that cannabinoids can halt the spread of numerous cancer cells — including prostate cancer, breast cancer, lung cancer, pancreatic cancer, and brain cancer. (An excellent paper summarizing much of this research, “Cannabinoids for Cancer Treatment: Progress and Promise,” appears in the January 2008 edition of the journal Cancer Research.) A 2006 patient trial published in the British Journal of Cancer even reported that the intracranial administration of THC was associated with reduced tumor cell proliferation in humans with advanced glioblastoma.

Writing earlier this year in the scientific journal Expert Review of Neurotherapeutics, Italian researchers reiterated, “(C)annabinoids have displayed a great potency in reducing glioma tumor growth. (They) appear to be selective antitumoral agents as they kill glioma cells without affecting the viability of nontransformed counterparts.” Not one mainstream media outlet reported their findings. Perhaps now they’ll pay better attention.

What possible advancements in the treatment of cancer may have been achieved over the past 34 years had U.S. government officials chosen to advance — rather than suppress — clinical research into the anti-cancer effects of cannabis? It’s a shame we have to speculate; it’s even more tragic that the families of Senator Kennedy and thousands of others must suffer while we do.

 

By Paul Armentano

for Huffington Post