For years cancer patients have insisted on their right to use medical marijuana as the plant eases their pain, increases their appetites and relieves vomiting and nausea.  New studies from the School of Biology at Complutense University, Madrid, Spain suggests THC not only helps cancer patients to cope with the disease, it can actually kill cancerous cells.

The findings were reported in the April issue of The Journal of Clinical Investigation.  Co-author, Guilermo Velasco explained that the introduction of THC into the brain triggers a cellular self-ingestion process known as “autophaghy”.  He claims his team of scientists isolated pathway by which this process unfolds and noted that it “appears to kill the cancer cells, while it does not affect normal cells.”

Cautionary Tale 

Opponents to the use of medical marijuana are quick to point out that there are many cancer patients who still died of cancer, or whose cancer had not yet gone into remission.  Dr. Paul Graham Fisher, the director Neuro-Oncology at Standford University observes, “In fact, 40 percent of brain tumor patients in the U.S. are already using alternative treatments, ranging from herbals to vitamins to marijuana… Many brain cancer patients are already rolling a joint to treat themselves, but we’re not seeing brain tumors suddenly going away as a result”.

Medical Marijuana Needs a New Design

The complexities involving the properties of marijuana are so great, that not only do different strains contain their own mixed properties, even rotating crops can show varying levels of THC and cannibidiol (CBD).  The right balance of CBD reduces the negative side effects associated with THC.  The binding of the two properties are what serve as an anti-inflammatory, while large levels of THC alone may increase inflammation.  Other side effects associated with THC, are also counter-balanced by CBD, such as anxiety, disorientation and memory loss.

The American Cancer Society states that scientists have recently reported that THC and other cannibinoids such as CBD slow growth and/or cause death in certain types of cancer cells growing in laboratory dishes.  Some animal studies also suggest certain cannibinoids may slow growth and reduce the spread of cancer.  However, these substances have not been tested on humans to find out if they lower cancer risk.

Open Research

Attempts to objectively study the various properties of marijuana have been hampered by misinformation and personal biases.  Medical marijuana has been proven to aid cancer patients, relieving pain, increasing appetite and minimizing vomiting and nausea.  Research has indicated that the proper dosage of CBD’s and THC can actually kill cancer cells.  For cancer patients, it isn’t enough to be told, “we haven’t completed our studies”.  They want answers now and many are willing to become part of a case study and try medical marijuana.