The National Cancer Institute’s page for Cannabis and Cannabinoids now lists several preclinical trials and studies in which the compounds have shown beneficial medical applications. While these merits come as no surprise for many, the real shocker here is Marijuana still being listed as a Schedule I substance in the eyes of the DEA.
The National Cancer Institute (NCI) is the United State’s primary agency in which cancer research and training is conducted. They are part of a larger umbrella of governmental agencies that comprise the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The NCI is largely responsible for the running the National Cancer Program, providing cancer-related information to the public, as well as developing programs and recommendations for the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of cancer.
Now listed on the the NCI’s Cannabis and Cannabinoids page, which is assumed to be the United State’s official position regarding Marijuana’s potential application in treating cancer, are the following facts:
- Studies in mice and rats have shown that cannabinoids may inhibit tumor growth by causing cell death, blocking cell growth, and blocking the development of blood vessels needed by tumors to grow. Laboratory and animal studies have shown that cannabinoids may be able to kill cancer cells while protecting normal cells.
- A study in mice showed that cannabinoids may protect against inflammation of the colon and may have potential in reducing the risk of colon cancer, and possibly in its treatment.
- A laboratory study of delta-9-THC in hepatocellular carcinoma (liver cancer) cells showed that it damaged or killed the cancer cells. The same study of delta-9-THC in mouse models of liver cancer showed that it had antitumor effects. Delta-9-THC has been shown to cause these effects by acting on molecules that may also be found in non-small cell lung cancer cells and breast cancer cells.
- A laboratory study of cannabidiol (CBD) in estrogen receptor positive and estrogen receptor negative breast cancer cells showed that it caused cancer cell death while having little effect on normal breast cells. Studies in mouse models of metastatic breast cancer showed that cannabinoids may lessen the growth, number, and spread of tumors.
- A laboratory study of cannabidiol (CBD) in human glioma cells showed that when given along with chemotherapy, CBD may make chemotherapy more effective and increase cancer cell death without harming normal cells. Studies in mouse models of cancer showed that CBD together with delta-9-THC may make chemotherapy such as temozolomide more effective.
The page also discusses several other potential medical applications for Cannabis and Cannabinoids such as pain relief, appetite stimulation, as well as it being an effective treatment for nausea, anxiety, and depression.
The page concludes by stating the FDA has not approved Cannabis or any Cannabinoids for the treatment of cancer, but that two Cannabinoids (dronabinal and nabilone) are currently approved for the treatment of chemotherapy-related nausea and vomiting.
The NCI’s page on Cannabinoids and Cannabis as a treatment for cancer gives the impression that the currently schedule I substance, Marijuana, holds tremendous potential for medical applications.
“Cannabinoids may be able to kill cancer cells while protecting normal cells”
The DEA, however, still seems to object to such promising applications as the official stance of that department is that Marijuana is dangerous; “with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. Schedule I drugs are the most dangerous drugs of all the drug schedules with potentially severe psychological or physical dependency.”
It should be noted that Cocaine, is listed as a Schedule II substance; viewed by the DEA has having less potential for harm than Marijuana–which is now viewed by the NCI as being a potential Cancer treatment. Follow that logic; we couldn’t.
The National Cancer Institute’s listing of Cannabis and Cannabinoids as holding tremendous potential for medical applications, particularly as treatments for cancer, clearly contradicts the DEA’s position regarding the Schedule I status of Marijuana. While the Canabis remains an infrequent topic of cancer research, there still seems enough evidence to warrant the impression of probable correlation. It seems that no one can manage to get on the same page regarding Marijuana, leaving many still pulling from impressions of Reefer Madness to form their opinions.
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Photo From Brett Levin
Note: A previous version of this article was titled “US National Cancer Institute Now Lists Cannabis as Cancer Treatment”, which was misleading in that the NCI has never stated Cannabis or Cannabnoids alone as being effective in treating cancer.