Following last week’s column on CannaBoss Rick Simpson and his belief that he has “rediscovered the cure for cancer,” we are going to travel back to the medical side of things and take a more in-depth look at what he is specifically referring to, some of the current research of and applications for the use of cannabis in the fight against cancer, and where the future research and use could be headed.
Simpson, a Canadian citizen, has given his testimony – in person and by use of electronic media, to practically anybody who will listen – about his claim that he used cannabis oil developed from strong indica strains to cure basal cell carcinoma, a skin cancer that manifested itself in the form of patches on his face and neck. He believed that his discovery would be heralded by the medical community and the organizations responsible for fundraising and educating the public on issues related to cancer eradication. When he was met with closed minds and police persecution, he left his home and native land to advocate from a much more cannabis-friendly location, Amsterdam.
Here in the U.S., as a result of the inclusion of cannabis among Schedule I drugs (high potential for abuse, no currently accepted medical use – a situation that the DEA and FDA had the opportunity to remedy this year but did not), medical research of cannabis is severely hamstrung.
Twenty-five states and the District of Columbia have substantial medical marijuana programs (in addition to 16 others that allow only CBD) but doctors in this country are not allowed to write prescriptions for cannabis or cannabis products; they may only write recommendations. To further confuse the issue, since 2003 the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has held patent number 6630507 for “Cannabanoids as antioxidants and neuroprotectants” and Marinol, a synthetic version of THC, has been approved FDA since 1985. Doctors are able to recommend cannabis to mitigate the side effects of cancer (and cancer treatments), for which it performs remarkably well, but due to its scheduling outside of the normal healthcare system, it can be difficult and expensive (no insurance coverage) for patients to obtain.
The National Cancer Institute recently broke the prohibition within the American medical establishment on reporting cannabanoids as cancer fighters with the following admission: “Cannabis has been shown to kill cancer cells in the laboratory.”
Much of the best medical and scientific research on cannabis over the past several decades has taken place in Israel. It was in Israel that Simpson’s fellow CannaBoss, Dr. Raphael Mechoulam (backed by the U.S. National Institutes of Health), discovered THC in 1964 and his success in the lab along with continued funding by our government has been the impetus for decades of study there. Several studies led by Dr. David Meiri at Isreal’s Institute of Technology in Haifa have shown great promise using cannabanoids to “inhibit cancer cell growth and cause cancer cell death.”
So, where does this leave us? As Americans, caught in the same blind alley that was created a generation ago when Nixon ignored the advice and research presented to him by his experts when he decided to place cannabis in Schedule I; as world citizens, on the sidelines cheering for foreign scientists to continue the great work they’re doing; as advocates and lovers of this wonderful plant, content in our hearts that the medicine heralded by Rick Simpson is indeed effective in combating this health scourge.
Christopher Gallagher lives with his wife and their four dogs and two horses. Life is pretty darn good. Contact him at [email protected]