The National Cancer Institute, the nation’s leading cancer research agency, now officially recognizes marijuana’s potential medical applications. In its Cannabis and Cannabinoids page, the NCI lists some studies meriting the drug.
The following are the facts listed on the said NCI page:
- Studies conducted to rats and mice have successfully shown that cannabinoids can stop the growth of tumor by killing cells, blocking their growth, or preventing the development of blood vessels which are needed by these tumors to grow. It was also shown that cannabinoids can potentially kill cancer cells while protecting normal cells.
- The risk of developing colon cancer can be reduced by cannabinoids as shown in mice studies where it successfully shielded the colon from inflammation.
- Delta-9-THC has successfully shown, both in lab and animal studies, that it can damage or kill cancer cells and prevent tumor growth.
- A lab study of cannabidiol or CBD has shown its ability to kill cancer cells while having little effect on normal, healthy (breast) cells.
- Another lab study of cannabidiol also showed that it may aid chemotherapy by increasing cell death while not affecting the normal cells. Animal studies on cannabidiol and delta-9-THC also showed promising results in potentially aiding chemotherapy.
The page also includes a discussion on marijuana’s other medical potentials such as treatment for neuropathy, nausea and anxiety, as well as depression.
Despite these, the page emphasized that the drug is still classified as a schedule 1 controlled substance, the “most dangerous drugs of all the drug schedules with potentially severe psychological or physical dependency.”
To compare, cocaine is only classified as schedule II.
Evidently, the NCI believes the drug has great potential for cancer. Yet, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) maintains its stance of keeping cannabis in its current status as having “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.”
For now, medical marijuana is legal in 29 US states. However, its illegal status in the federal level makes it hard to pursue and further research on its many hypothesized benefits.