So What If Pot Can Cure Cancer; That's No Reason For You To Use It

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Now this really is a mixed blessing.

On the one hand, I’m thrilled to see that a study documenting the anti-cancer properties of cannabinoids is finally receiving some mainstream media attention.

On the other hand, I’m disappointed that its coverage is limited to a British tabloid that is better known for running anti-pot propaganda like this:

Cannabis killer knifed neighbour 100 times via Metro.co.uk

A mentally ill man driven to violent frenzies by cannabis was sentenced to life yesterday for stabbing a man 100 times.

… Kashmiri, 50, of Tooting, south London, sexually assaulted the woman at her south London home in June, 2006, and returned five nights later to attack her.

… Kashmiri, whose violent episodes are triggered by cannabis, denied murder but admitted manslaughter due to diminished responsibility.

Of course, I’m accustomed to reading “Reefer Madness” in the British press.

But I’m less accustomed to reading “Reefer Madness” when it comes from the mouth of an established medi-pot researcher like Dr. Wai Man Liu.

Cannabis may help the war on cancer via Metro.co.uk

Cannabis could be used to treat many forms of cancer, new research suggests.

The drug contains an ingredient which slows tumour growth and prevents the reproduction of cancer cells, doctors say.

Its effects are seen in all cancers but particularly in those of the lung and brain, and leukaemia, it is claimed.

But scientists warned against smoking the drug, saying the only safe version was that created in the lab.

Researcher Dr Wai Man Liu said: ‘I’m in no way encouraging people to take up smoking the ganja — there would be more harm than good.’

Previous research has shown cannabis-based medicines can help cancer patients as a painkiller, appetite stimulant and in reducing nausea.

The drug has also long been used by multiple sclerosis and arthritis sufferers to reduce pain.

Its medicinal benefits come from the main active ingredient, THC. The latest research, by St George’s University of London, shows that THC can weaken cancer cells to make traditional chemotherapy more effective.

Dr Liu said: ‘It’s another weapon against the armour of cancer. We are quite close but need to jump through certain hoops. I believe it could be used in two to three years.’

Dr Joanna Owens, from Cancer Research UK, said the latest studies were encouraging but needed to be followed up with more trials. She added: ‘Making cancer cells more vulnerable to chemotherapy or radiotherapy is a great concept but it is still early days.’

Having recently lost friends and family members to cancer, including one to leukemia, I can inform Dr. Liu that such a diagnosis — even when treated with standard radiation and chemotherapy — is a death sentence. For Dr. Liu to advise, with a straight face no less, that these patients would do “more harm than good” by smoking cannabis is a disgrace. Not only can cannabis alleviate cancer patients’ nausea and pain, elevate their mood, and increase their appetite, but also — as Dr. Liu’s own data demonstrates — it may help to alleviate the very disease that’s ravaging their bodies. Nevertheless, I suppose that Dr. Liu would rather have these patients shut up and die than expose the political hypocrisy surrounding criminalizing a plant.

Finally, as for Dr. Liu’s idyllic estimate that his pharmaceutically-approved pot-based anti-cancer drugs will be available in “two to three years,” don’t hold your breath (or, if you already have cancer, try not to die in the interim). I’m sure that these investigators made similar proclamations when they documented pot’s anti-cancer properties — in 1975!

Yet here we are 33 years later and the only u201Cprogressu201D we’ve made on this issue is in the wrong direction — having moved from investigating the plant’s anti-cancer potential in animals to cells in vitro in a petri dish! Thank you Dr. Liu; now kindly get out of my sight.

Paul Armentano [send him mail] is the senior policy analyst for NORML and the NORML Foundation in Washington, DC. He is the author of "Emerging Clinical Applications for Cannabis and Cannabinoids: A Review of the Scientific Literature" (2007, NORML Foundation).

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