It’s important to understand that cannabis like most drugs is not some alien substance that is foreign to the body. Cannabis is made up of different cannabinoids and all humans have cannabinoid receptors, (which cannabinoids bind to) as well as endogenous cannabinoid ligands like anandamide and 2-arachidonoylglycerol in our blood regardless of whether or not we ever consume or smoke cannabis, which is one reason why anti-cannabis hysteria is so silly. Cannabinoids also exist in certain other animals and insects like the fruit fly and they occur naturally in certain foods like chocolate, which contains anandamide. Bovine and human milk also contain 2-arachidonoylglycerol, as do the brains of mice, rats, and dogs. These ligands help to regulate motivation, appetite, the sleep cycle, pain relief, euphoria, and they have medical uses themselves. Anandamide and 2-arachidonoylglycerol, for example, both inhibit the growth of breast cancer cells in vitro. 1
Cannabis itself has a plethora of medical applications, and it has been used as a medicine for thousands of years, so its medical efficacy is worth discussing, especially when so many are locked up just for self-medicating with the plant. The medical efficacy of cannabis would not be contested so much if testing of the drug was legal everywhere and there wasn’t so much corporate state propaganda about cannabis. While smoking cannabis is not completely harmless to lung tissue, (inhaling smoke of any kind can temporarily damage lung tissue) its psychoactive components, cannabinoids, as well as synthetic cannabinoids can be ingested without smoking. These components have many medical uses. For example, cannabis has strong analgesic effects, and it can be used as a much safer, non-lethal alternative to opiates for chronic pain caused by conditions like cancer, AIDS, dysmenorrhea, neuralgia, and others.2
Cannabis can also kill cancer cells and reduce the risk of getting cancer3. This has been well known in parts of the medical community for decades but the information has been suppressed and withheld from the public by the government. In 1974 the Medical College of Virginia discovered the “active chemical agent in marijuana curbs the growth of three kinds of cancer in mice and may also suppress the immunity reaction that causes rejection of organ transplants” as reported in the Washington Post by Victor Cohn on August 18th 1974.4 The study, which was published the following year in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found that “Mice treated for 20 consecutive days with delta-8-THC and CBN had reduced primary tumor size.”5 THC and CBN (cannabinol, another cannabinoid) reduced the size of Lewis lung adenocarcinoma tumors in laboratory mice, and prolonged their lives by as much as 36%. They also inhibited leukemia virus-induced splenomegaly by 71%.6 This was corroborated by Harvard researcher, Anju Preet PhD, in 2007 in another study on the effects of cannabis on mice with lung cancer.7
In 1976 former President Gerald Ford, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, (NIDA) and the DEA prohibited research and federal health programs from researching natural cannabis derivatives for medicine. Reagan continued this prohibition of the study of cannabis, but made an exception for pharmaceutical drug companies that were interested in marketing derivatives. In September 1983 Reagan actually attempted to persuade “all American universities and researchers to destroy all 1966-76 cannabis research work, including compendiums in libraries”8 as the corrupt, inequitous administration didn’t want Americans to know they could grow their own medicine, cure their own cancer, and thus reduce the profits of large American pharmaceutical companies. But the government’s own National Toxicology Program’s two year study on the effects of THC on mice conducted by the Department of Health and Human Services found there was “no evidence of carcinogenic activity” and “the incidences of mammary gland fibroadenomas and uterine stromal polyps were decreased in dosed groups of female rats, as were the incidences of pancreatic adenomas, pituitary gland adenomas, and interstitial cell adenomas of the testis in dosed male rats and liver neoplasms in dosed mice”9
Numerous studies have shown cannabis can even kill brain cancer. For example, a 1998 study led by Dr. Manuel Guzman of the Complutense University’s School of Biology in Madrid, Spain found that ”delta9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the major active component of marijuana, induced apoptosis in C6.9 glioma cells, as determined by DNA fragmentation and loss of plasma membrane asymmetry.”10 (A glioma is a cancerous tumor that grows in the brain and spinal cord and is generally incurable.) In 2000 their findings were published in the journal Nature Medicine, stating that THC destroyed gliomas in 1/3 of the rats tested and prolonged the lives of another third. This was corroborated by a study by the University of Milan entitled “Antitumor Effects of Cannabidiol, a Nonpsychoactive Cannabinoid, on Human Glioma Cell Lines” published in 2003 that found “The addition of CBD to the culture medium led to a dramatic drop of mitochondrial oxidative metabolism [3-(4,5-dimethyl-2-thiazolyl)-2,5-diphenyl-2H tetrazolium bromide test] and viability in glioma cells, in a concentration-dependent manner that was already evident 24 hours after CBD exposure, with an apparent IC(50) of 25 microM….We also show, for the first time, that the antiproliferative effect of CBD was correlated to induction of apoptosis, as determined by cytofluorimetric analysis and single-strand DNA staining, which was not reverted by cannabinoid antagonists. Finally, CBD, administered s.c. to mice at the dose of 0.5 mg/mouse, significantly inhibited the growth of subcutaneously implanted U87 human glioma cells. In conclusion, the nonpsychoactive CBD was able to produce a significant antitumor activity both in vitro and in vivo, thus suggesting a possible application of CBD as an antineoplastic agent.”11
The SETH Group (Scientists Exploring Truth in Healing) has also shown cannabis compounds can stop the growth of human glioblastoma multiforma (GBM) brain cancer cells. The Group stated “No chemotherapy can match this nontoxic anti-cancer action.” Further, in 2012 Pierre-Yves Desprez Ph.D and Sean McAllister Ph.D. of the California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute found that CBD stopped breast and brain cancer invasion and metastasis by downregulating expression of the Id-1 gene.12
Cannabis can also prevent the development of neurodegenerative diseases. Intracellular beta amyloid (Aβ) increases with age and can be a contributing factor to nerve cell death and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease (AD), Parkinson’s, and Huntington’s diseases. According to a study published in the journal Aging and Mechanisms of Disease “Cannabinoids such as tetrahydrocannabinol stimulate the removal of intraneuronal Aβ, block the inflammatory response, and are protective,” thus preventing nerve cell death and the development of neurodegenerative diseases. They do this by binding to the peripheral anionic site of the enzyme acetylcholinesterase that produces beta amyloid, thereby inhibiting it according to another study conducted by the American Chemical Society.
Cannabis has also been shown to prevent the replication of the herpes virus in vitro by the University of Florida. Their study “Delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) inhibits lytic replication of gamma oncogenic herpes viruses in vitro” found that “Micromolar concentrations of THC inhibit KSHV [Kaposi’s Sarcoma Associated Herpes virus] and EBV [Epstein-Barr virus] reactivation in virus infected/immortalized B cells. THC also strongly inhibits lytic replication of MHV 68 [murine gamma herpes virus 68]and HVS in vitro.”13
Cannabis is an anti-emetic as well, which makes it especially useful for cancer treatment because chemotherapy can induce nausea (although cannabis makes chemotherapy unnecessary). Cannabis is also an appetite stimulant, which makes it useful in the treatment of any disorder or disease that reduces appetite or causes cachexia, the “wasting syndrome,” like anorexia, AIDS, cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), congestive heart failure, hormone deficiencies, and tuberculosis.
Cannabidol or CBD may be the most medically useful cannabinoid in cannabis. CBD is an anticonvulsant14 and an antipsychotic15, which can make it useful in the treatment of epilepsy and a variety of mental disorders. Cannabis can have euphoric and anxiolytic effects too, which can make it useful for the treatment of anxiety disorders and depression in certain cases. Cannabis strains that are high in CBD are most useful. THC is also bronchodilator like an inhaler, so CBD can treat suffers of asthma and COPD.16
Cannabis can also treat glaucoma and age related macular degeneration.17 Glaucoma increases intraocular pressure and impairs vision as a result, and it is the leading cause of blindness. Cannabis reduces intraocular pressure, thus reducing the symptoms of glaucoma, and it can delay the onset of blindness for years caused by the disease. Cannabis has also been shown to relieve spasticity caused by neurological and motor disorders like multiple sclerosis (MS) and spinal cord injury.18
Although cannabis has numerous medical applications, it should not be smoked while pregnant because it may cause DNA mutations in vitro like many other drugs. It has been shown to increase the risk of low birth weight when pregnant.19 People with very unstable heart conditions like angina pectoris should probably avoid cannabis or consult their doctor before using it because THC increases heart rate. However, cannabis generally has the opposite effect on blood pressure, which could make it useful in the treatment of hypertension.
Another reason that cannabis has been less accepted as a medicine aside from the hearsay, politics, puritanism, and propaganda is that THC can cause mild psychosis (usually auditory or visual hallucinations) at high doses. CBD, however, is an anti-psychotic as stated. These opposing effects often provide balance.
The role cannabis plays in mental disorders is complex because different strains of marijuana have different quantities of THC and CBD and often consumers are not able to measure these molecules, so a patient may unknowingly receive a strain that is inappropriate for their condition. Cannabis can be useful for patients with mental disorders, but since THC can cause psychosis, strains high in THC may be contraindicated for those with psychotic disorders. However, cannabis that is high in CBD or CBD alone may help those with psychotic disorders. More research needs to be done on this to reach more concrete conclusions.
It is worth mentioning that psychosis is not always a negative condition. Psychosis is a natural part of life and it does not always need to be treated. (I will discuss this in more detail later on in the book.) Psychosis is the inability to distinguish external and internal stimuli. In other words, it is a state in which an individual becomes unaware of what is real and what is a creation of their minds. It can manifest itself as vivid hallucinations, which can affect any of the five senses. It can also result in a sense of detachment from reality (or dissociation). Menstruation20, childbirth, sensory deprivation, and many other natural processes can cause mild psychosis. Cannabis-induced psychosis only occurs when very high doses of THC are consumed, and novice users are more likely to experience it.
Because some individuals with mental disorders like to use cannabis, some talking heads in the corporate media with dubious intentions claim cannabis causes these disorders. But as with most drug propaganda, they are wrongly conflating correlation with causation. There is no relationship between cannabis and schizophrenia, (except in the sense that it can be used to treat schizophrenia). About half of all people with schizophrenia use illicit drugs and many have addictions. Long-term use of drugs can like meth and crack can result in settled psychosis and symptoms of schizophrenia, so it is possible schizophrenia itself is just settled psychosis since so many diagnosed with it are former addicts, victims of trauma, or both.
There is no universally accepted biological etiology for schizophrenia, only theories. Dopamine dysfunction is thought by some medical scientists to cause schizophrenia and cannabis has almost no effect on the dopaminergic system. Cannabinoids as stated bind to cannabinoid receptors, and they have minimal effects on other neurotransmitters. Some individuals with schizophrenia likely use cannabis to cope with the devastating, symptoms of their disorder and previous trauma. Most diagnosed with schizophrenia also smoke cigarettes, which have a greater effect on dopamine. But no scientist or doctor has ever made the claim that tobacco leads to schizophrenia because it has never been shown. (Many of those diagnosed actually find tobacco helps their symptoms, despite the many potential, grave health risks.)
Too many misguided politicians and pundits try to draw a link between cannabis and schizophrenia to reduce its use because of their personal beliefs. But their beliefs are not rooted in careful consideration or hard science. Cannabis can increase the disorganization of thoughts, which is a cognitive symptom of schizophrenia, but this is the only way I have found it is related. Harvard Professor and psychiatrist, Dr. Lester Grinspoon, who has treated schizophrenic patients for 40 years, has said the supposed link between schizophrenia and cannabis is absurd:
“If you just take the fact that…the frequency of schizophrenia is about 1% world-round, you would expect with a drug used as often as it is that there would be a little [increase] but it doesn’t change a bit. It hasn’t changed. In fact, you can find as much information showing that marijuana is useful for schizophrenia than you can [claiming] it is harmful.” – Dr. Lester Grinspoon PhD.
As stated cannabis is the most popular drug in the world. In 2011 there were an estimated 220 million users,21 but not nearly as many people were diagnosed with schizophrenia that year. Even fewer reported symptoms of schizophrenia. The rate of reports has also been relatively stable over recent years.
It is important to note that cannabis smoke is not completely harmless to the lungs as stated. Deliberately inhaling smoke of any kind is harmful to the lungs. (Even using a lighter is harmful because byproducts created by the combustion of fuel are inhaled.) “Street cannabis” can also be sprayed or modified in other ways that make it heavier and potentially more harmful. This is all the more reason to legalize and regulate cannabis, so that such modified cannabis can be removed from the market.
It is also sometimes claimed there is more “tar” in cannabis than there is in tobacco. This has not been scientifically proven, but regardless of the validity of the claim it a dubious comparison because not all tar is the same. Cigarette tar paralyzes the lungs cilia and can kill them. But cannabis smoke produces a different “tar” with different effects on the lungs. While there is no data or research that proves cannabis smoking can cause cancer, it can cause bronchial DNA cell changes, and these can potentially increase the risk of getting cancer. But again, no one has ever proven that anyone has developed cancer solely from cannabis use. Cannabis smoking also does not cause major immune dysfunction or increase susceptibility of infectious diseases (as tobacco does) shown by many studies that have measured no changes in smokers’ T-lymphocytes, macrophages, B-lymphocytes, and immunoglobulin levels, even with heavy usage.22
Heavy smoking of cannabis can inflame the lung’s bronchial tubes (especially the larger ones) and make them produce more mucus, resulting in bronchitis, which increases airflow obstruction, and results in coughing, wheezing, and similar symptoms. These are generally mild, but they can be irritating. Heavy smoking can also slightly reduce lung density and vital capacity.23 (Vital capacity is the greatest amount of air a person can expel after maximum respiration.) But this can be easily avoided by ingesting cannabis in alternative ways.
Tobacco smoke more severely irritates the smaller pathways, which makes it a common cause of chronic bronchitis, emphysema, and cancer. Heavy smoking of cannabis may be loosely connected to emphysema, but in the same 2007 study just cited, it was noted that only one out of the 75 participants who only smoked cannabis had macroscopic emphysema, as opposed to the tobacco smoking only participants, of whom 19 out of 91 had macroscopic emphysema. All in all, however, the medical benefits of cannabis far outweigh its potential dangers, even when smoked.
The most common reason cannabis is rejected as a medicine by a small minority of doctors is that they believe it has to be smoked, but this is not the case as stated. Cannabis can be consumed with a vaporizer, which vaporizes the psychoactive elements of the plant (the cannabinoids), turning them into a gas without burning the carbonous plant material that would otherwise irritate the lung pathways. Cannabis can also be prepared to be eaten, taken by pill, or consumed in liquid form. Pure synthetic cannabinoids can also be consumed without irritating the lungs. Smoking or cooking with hash is also a healthier alternative to smoking cannabis. All of these alternatives allow for cannabis to be used as a medicine without any increased risk of cancer, bronchitis, emphysema, or any other disease and even reduce the risk and cure some of these ailments and more.
Certain synthetic cannabinoids that have been formulated have increased the efficacy of natural cannabinoids thousands of times over. Synthetic and isolated, natural cannabinoids are arguably most useful as medicine and much more research should be done on them. They should be used widely in clinical trials to improve our understanding of one of the most (if not the most) important medicines that exists.
1 Luciano De Petrocellis, et. al: The endogenous cannabinoid anandamide inhibits human breast cancer cell proliferation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, July 7 1998. <<https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC20983/>>
2 Dr. Grinspoon, Lester and Dr. Bakalar, James B: “Marihuana: The Forbidden Medicine.” 2007. Various pages. Print.
3 Velasco G, Sánchez C, Guzmán M: Towards the use of cannabinoids as antitumour agents. Nat Rev Cancer 12 (6): 436-44, 2012. <<http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22555283?dopt=Abstract.>>
6Munson, A.E., et. al: Article Navigation Antineoplastic Activity of Cannabinoids. Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Volume 55, Issue 3, 1 September 1975, Pages 597–602. <<https://academic.oup.com/jnci/article-abstract/55/3/597/912322/Antineoplastic-Activity-of-Cannabinoids2?redirectedFrom=fulltext>>
7 Preet, Anju, et. al: Delta9-Tetrahydrocannabinol inhibits epithelial growth factor-induced lung cancer cell migration in vitro as well as its growth and metastasis in vivo. January 2008. Oncogene. <<https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17621270>>
9 TOXICOLOGY AND CARCINOGENESIS STUDIES OF 1-TRANS-DELTA TETRAHYDROCANNABINOL IN F344/N RATS AND B6C3F, MICE. Department of Health and Human Services, November 1996. <<https://ntp.niehs.nih.gov/ntp/htdocs/lt_rpts/tr446.pdf>>
11Antitumor Effects of Cannabidiol, a Nonpsychoactive Cannabinoid, on Human Glioma Cell Lines, University of Milan, 2003. <<https://www.researchgate.net/publication/9008349_Antitumor_Effects_of_Cannabidiol_a_No npsychoactive_Cannabinoid_on_Human_Glioma_Cell_Lines>>
12Soroceanu, Liliana, et. al: Id-1 Is a Key Transcriptional Regulator of Glioblastoma Aggressiveness and a Novel Therapeutic Target. American Association for Cancer Research, Volume 73 Issue 5. March, 2013. <<http://cancerres.aacrjournals.org/content/73/5/1559.short>>
13Maria M. Medvecky: “Delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) inhibits lytic replication of gamma oncogenic herpes viruses in vitro,” University of Florida. September 15, 2004. <<https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC521080/>>
14 Cillo, Maria Roberta, et. al: The Case for Assessing Cannabidol in Epilepsy, Epelepsia, Volume 55, issue 6, June 2014. Page 787-790. <<http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/epi.12635/full>>
15 Levin, R, et. al: Antipsychotic profile of cannabidiol and rimonabant in an animal model of emotional context processing in schizophrenia.Departamento de Farmacologia, Universidade Federal de Sao Paul. 2012. <<https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22716146>>
16J.P.R. HARTLEY, et. al: BRONCHODILATOR EFFECT OF Delta1-TETRAHYDROCANNABINOL. British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, June 1978.<<https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1429361/pdf/brjclinpharm00292-0050.pdf>>
17 I Tomida, et. Al: Cannabinoids and Glaucoma. British Journal of Ophthalmology. May 2004. <<https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1772142/#r5>>
18 Consroe P, et al: “Reported Marijuana Effects in Patients with Spinal Cord Injury.” 1998 Symposium on Cannabinoids. International Cannabinoid Research Society. Pg. 34. 1998. Print.
19 Fergusson DM., et al. Maternal use of Cannabis and Pregnancy Outcomes. NCBI. Online. <<www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11843371>>
20 Brockington, Ian: Menstrual Psychosis and the Catamenial Process. University of Birmingham. Eyry Press, 2008. Print.
21 UNODC: World Drug Report, 2011. New York. Print.
22 Sarah Aldington et al. “Effects of Cannabis on Pulmonary Structure, Function and Symptoms.” Thorax: An International Journal of Respiratory Medicine. NCBI, December 2007, Volume 62. Journal.
23 See previous citation.