• by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director March 24, 2011

    Scientific trials have for decades documented the anti-cancer properties of cannabis and its constituents. Yet it took until this week for the website of the National Institute of Cancer, a component of the U.S. government’s National Institutes of Health, to finally acknowledged the herb’s therapeutic utility for patients living with disease or suffering from the adverse side-effects of cancer treatment.

    In a newly added section to the website, entitled ‘Cannabis and Cannabinoids,’ the Institute states:

    Cannabinoids may cause antitumor effects by various mechanisms, including induction of cell death, inhibition of cell growth, and inhibition of tumor angiogenesis and metastasis. Cannabinoids appear to kill tumor cells but do not affect their nontransformed counterparts and may even protect them from cell death.”

    …The potential benefits of medicinal cannabis for people living with cancer include antiemetic effects, appetite stimulation, pain relief, and improved sleep. In the practice of integrative oncology, the health care provider may recommend medicinal cannabis not only for symptom management but also for its possible direct antitumor effect.”

    It’s a stunning acknowledgment, given that the NIH is a branch of the very same government that presently maintains that the cannabis plant and all of its naturally-derived components have ‘no accepted medical use.’ Yet it also begs the question: Where has the National Institute of Cancer been all these years?

    After all, the anti-tumor activity of cannabinoids were initially documented in 1975! That’s right; it’s taken 36 years for the Institute to get with the program.

    Hopefully it won’t take them another 36 years to demand that the Feds finally assess whether these preclinical results are replicable in human trials.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director December 1, 2009

    Check out this latest request for applications from the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Institutes on Drug Abuse (NIDA):

    Cannabis-related disorders (CRDs), including cannabis abuse or dependence and cannabis induced disorders … are a major public health issue. … Nearly one million people are seeking treatment for marijuana dependence every year and sufficient research has been carried out to confirm that the use of cannabis can produce serious physical and psychological consequences.

    “Currently, there are no medications approved by the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of CRDs. Given the extent of the use of cannabis in the general population, and the medical and psychological consequences of its use … there is a great public health need to develop safe and effective therapeutic interventions. The need to develop treatments targeting adolescents and young adults is particularly relevant in view of their disproportionate use patterns.”

    In other words, the federal government is spending millions upon millions of your dollars to solicit research to find a supposed ‘cure’ for alleged ‘marijuana addiction‘ — at the same time that it is spending virtually no money on clinical trials to assess the medical value of cannabis itself.

    I try my best to cut through the BS (“One million people are seeking treatment?!” Um, more like 287,933 — and six out of ten of them were referred by the criminal justice system following an arrest.) in my latest Alternet essay, “The Feds Are Addicted to Pot — Even If You Aren’t,” which you can read and comment on here.

    Here’s an excerpt:

    The Feds Are Addicted to Pot — Even If You Aren’t
    via Alternet

    Marijuana’s addiction potential may be no big deal, but it’s certainly big business.

    According to a widely publicized 1999 Institute of Medicine report, fewer than 10 percent of those who try cannabis ever meet the clinical criteria for a diagnosis of “drug dependence” (based on DSM-III-R criteria). By contrast, 32 percent of tobacco users and 15 percent of alcohol users meet the criteria for “drug dependence.”

    Nevertheless, it is pot — not booze or cigarettes — that has the federal government seeing red and clinical investigators seeing green.

    Read the entire article here.