By Mark Wachtler
February 26, 2012. San Francisco. (ONN) For an entire century, Big Pharma and its big money have been successful in making sure that little is known about the effects of marijuana use. One hundred years ago, marijuana was one of the most prescribed drugs by doctors, safely and successfully treating a host of illnesses. If one were to dust off the medical journals of the era, or examine ancient history for that matter, one would be surprised to discover that since the dawn of man until the birth of pharmaceutical companies in the early 19th century, marijuana was doing a miraculous job stopping cancer.
States and marijuana's legal status. Image courtesy of Tobacco News.
To reiterate and to make clear from the start – there are no clinical trials documenting marijuana’s cancer-fighting properties or success rate, only laboratory studies. In fact, thanks to the efforts of Big Pharma companies who have made tens of billions of dollars in profits from the criminalization of marijuana, there are few studies of any kind regarding the plant. That’s highly suspect in itself considering it not only is one of the most widely used natural substances for recreational enjoyment but also thought to be mankind’s first and longest-standing medical treatment dating back to our caveman ancestors.
Thousands of years ago, marijuana cured our ills, provided vitamins and minerals when cooked, filled in as the tool of choice for a number of craftsmen and as history suggests, but modern science won’t confirm, it kept cancer in a state of almost non-existence. When pharmaceutical companies and their chemical laboratories emerged about 100 years ago, safe and natural marijuana was outlawed and replaced with deadly, dangerous, addictive, but highly profitable pharmaceutical drugs.
Scientists have long sought a reason why cancer rates began to increase at the same time. Most suggest that newer tests detect cancer more easily, resulting in more cases. Others argue that it was the removal of marijuana from society, nature’s own cancer-fighting agent, that led to an epidemic of cancer. Regardless of the reason why, one can’t argue with the fact that the very same pharmaceutical companies that demanded marijuana be removed from medical treatments, over the objections of the American Medical Association, have profited by the tens of billions of dollars in the spike in cancer patients.
What if cannabis cured cancer?
That’s the name of a one-hour documentary detailing marijuana as mankind’s wonder-drug. The introduction explains:
‘Could the chemicals found in marijuana prevent and even heal several deadly cancers? Could the tumor regulating properties of cannabinoids someday replace the debilitating drugs, chemotherapy, and radiation that harms as often as it heals? Discover the truth about this ancient medicine as world renowned scientists in the field of cannabinoid research explain and illustrate their truly mind-blowing discoveries. What the experts are saying - "What If Cannabis Cured Cancer summarizes the remarkable research findings of recent years about the cancer-protective effects of novel compounds in marijuana. Most medical doctors are not aware of this information and its implications for prevention and treatment. If we need more evidence that our current policy on cannabis is counterproductive and foolish, here it is," says Andrew Weil, MD. "A hugely important film" remarks Julie Holland, MD, NYU School of Medicine.’
As the documentary explains, cannabis grew prolifically during ancient times and is thought to be mankind’s firs cultivated plant. Whether it was ground up and used as an ancient ingredient or simply eaten whole, marijuana was thought to be a component of ancient man’s diet, as well as one of his most trusted tools. As recently as the 1940’s, the US government grew marijuana over hundreds of acres and used it to make the ropes on America’s naval warships during World War 2.
In the 1800’s, medical journals published more than one hundred articles touting the benefits and uses of marijuana. The film insists that during the days of house-call-making doctors, marijuana was a part of every physician’s medical bag. One of the most widely prescribed treatments by doctors a century and a half ago, it was used to counter complaints such as labor pains, asthma, rheumatism, nervous disorders, colic in babies and menstrual cramps.
Today, even with the limited testing allowed by the world’s governments, marijuana is inspiring new medical discoveries and unlocking the mysteries of the human body. Some of the quotes put forth in the documentary by experts in the medical marijuana field include, “This group of chemicals has significant anti-tumor properties”, “Cannabis kills cancer cells, in many cases”, “They have anti-tumor effects” and “We know that it kills cancer cells without hurting the non-transformed cells”.
The documentary goes on to remind viewers that marijuana has already been proven to have anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic and anti-bacterial properties – some of the most pharmaceutically-prescribed ailments in America today. The plant’s chemical effects have also proved to safely and successfully treat depression, traumatic stress syndrome, chronic pain, glaucoma, migraine headaches, multiple sclerosis, turrets, nausea and more – all without the deadly and dangerous side effects accompanying pharmaceutical drugs.
One of the last remaining arguments against marijuana is that, like cigarette smoke, it causes lung cancer. But the documentary reveals something pot smokers have suspected for generations - marijuana actually may prevent lung cancer. As the film explains, “Although cannabis smoke has been shown to have pre-cancerous effects in animal tissue, countless studies have failed to find the link between cannabis smoking and cancer. And in fact, have shown that heavy marijuana users have considerably fewer cancers than the general population.”
At one medical conference, speakers quote UCLA’s Dr. Donald Tashkin and his team’s marijuana study results. “Doctor Donald Tashkin is a very good researcher at UCLA. He is a pulmonologist. His research demonstrated that the incidence of lung cancer in people who smoke cannabis was less than the incidence of lung cancer in people who smoke nothing at all.”
In an interview with Dr. Tashkin himself, he confirms the details of his team’s study which included searching for evidence that marijuana was a cause of cancer. He explains, “We actually succeeded in studying 600, or about 600, lung cancer cases, and about 600 head and neck cancer cases. And the bottom line is, we failed to find any positive association between marijuana use, even heavy marijuana use, and cancer.”
The documentary asks the question, “Is it possible that the tar in smoked pot could be causing malignancies while the chemical constituents in pot are curing them at the same time?”
The film goes on to tout the advancements in marijuana research recently. It says, “Dozens of major studies have been published in the last few years that indicate that the chemicals in cannabis, in the lab and in animals, have a significant effect in fighting almost all major cancers, including brain, breast, prostate, lung, thyroid, colon, skin, pituitary, melanoma and leukemia. They do this by promoting the death of cancer cells that have forgotten how to die, as well as a reduction in their crucial blood supply, while leaving healthy cells untouched.”
How and why does marijuana fight cancer?
The documentary takes a very detailed look into the science behind the theory that marijuana fights, and possibly cures cancer. Briefly, a parade of doctors and scientists were interviewed explaining each step of the thought process and the already-proven aspects.
For starters, they inform us that our bodies already contain a form of cancer-fighting cannabis called, ‘endocannabinoids’. These naturally occurring compounds run throughout our bodies and are responsible for multiple processes such as energy intake, nutrient transport, metabolism and storage. The documentary sums up the premise saying, “Endocannabinoids protect our good cells while killing the bad ones, like cancer.”
Past studies have revealed that endocannabinoids and cannabinoid receptors naturally occurring within our bodies result in a number of well-known effects such as euphoria and appetite. When the process is repeated purposely by smoking marijuana, the terms used are ‘high’ and the ‘munchies’. In fact, numerous experts have called the fact that such a beneficial compound within our bodies also exists in plant form, “miraculous”.
The cure for cancer discovery
Ironically, it was a pharmaceutical corporation called Sanofi-Aventis that stumbled upon marijuana’s cancer-curing properties. Unfortunately for mankind, the for-profit corporation was looking for a weight loss wonder-drug, not a cure for cancer.
Their theory was based on marijuana, only in reverse. If endocannabinoids exist naturally in humans and stimulate appetite, as well as a host of other beneficial human traits, and marijuana increases those functions, then the opposite of marijuana would decrease those traits, including appetite. The drug was called Rimonabant and when it was introduced in Europe, it not only reduced people’s appetite, it also reduced the other beneficial traits of our bodies’ endocannabinoids. The result was widespread depression, anxiety, insomnia, suicide and aggressive impulses at twice the rate of test subjects given a placebo – all the opposite effects of marijuana, exactly as the company anticipated. In one study, five patients committed suicide while taking the drug.
In 2008, Rimonabant was pulled from the marketplace. At some point, details from one study the company had done on the drug caught the attention of doctors and foundations passionately looking for a cure for cancer. Researchers at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Texas reported that mice given Rimonabant had developed cancerous polyps and tumors at a far greater rate than normal. The study confirmed something that was a monumental discovery – that endocannabinoids not only stop mental dysfunctions like depression, anxiety and aggression, they stop physical dysfunctions such as tumors and cancer as well.
Just as the pharmaceutical corporation reversed the effects of marijuana, accidentally increasing the incidents of tumors and cancer cells, the cancer researchers in Texas concluded that our bodies’ endocannabinoids are naturally occurring cancer fighters. And just as marijuana and its cannabinoids all but wipe out depression, anxiety and aggression, so too would marijuana wipe out cancer cells.
Another unrelated but surprising conclusion from their studies is that ‘memory loss’, proven to be one of the few negative side effects of marijuana use, is actually a beneficial trait of marijuana and their naturally occurring counterpart in the body, endocannabinoids. Their argument is that our brain purposely forgets things as a way of protecting our bodies from the damaging effects of stress and anxiety. Marijuana simply enhances that naturally occurring and necessary effect.
How close is a cure?
The documentary goes on to highlight a number of efforts to use marijuana, both in the US and abroad, to rapidly develop cures for a host of diseases, including cancer. Unfortunately for Americans, pharmaceutical companies in the US have been able to blur the perception of marijuana for so long, European drug companies are well ahead of their US counterparts in manufacturing marijuana-based cures.
A report by Associated Press last month detailed the remarkable strides being made by the British pharmaceutical company GW Pharma. Unlike other drug companies, GW Pharma is using the actual marijuana plant and its compounds instead of synthetic replicas. The company is already in late-stage trials to release the world’s first pharmaceutical developed from raw marijuana. The initial claim of GW Pharma is that it should be prescribed to alleviate pain in cancer victims. They are developing the drug to be applied via mouth-spray. The company hopes to have FDA approval by 2013. The drug is already approved in Canada, New Zealand and 8 European countries.
Reacting with confusion regarding the US government and US pharmaceutical companies’ foot-dragging over medical marijuana advances, the AP article quotes Virginia Commonwealth University Professor Aron Lichtman saying, “There is a real disconnect between what the public seems to be demanding and what the states have pushed for and what the market is providing. It seems to me a company with a great deal of vision would say, 'If there is this demand and need, we could develop a drug that will help people and we will make a lot of money.'"
**Update - NIH confirms marijuana kills cancer tumors. Read the Whiteout Press report, 'Marijuana destroys Cancer Tumors says NIH and new Study'.