Adding momentum to a growing movement, the federal government and the National Institute of Health have announced new breakthroughs in medical marijuana research that indicate the plant could take a much larger role in the struggle against cancer.
While Colorado and a few other states were successfully able to legalize marijuana, the rest of the country continues to be cautious, or at least set on perpetuating the conservative mindset that pot use is dangerous and leads to addiction. Thanks to a recent revelation by the Department of Health, those arguments are getting a lot harder to make.
Recently, the U.S. Government’s Department of Health has admitted that marijuana can actually kill cancer – news that may be terrifying for the highly profitable medical/pharmaceutical industry. In recent studies, the federal government and National Institutes of Health (NIH) confirmed that cannabis was highly effective in killing cancer cells – and might be a better option than expensive treatments such as radiation and chemotherapy because cannabis kept healthy cells intact. This is pretty unwelcome news for conservatives, as it obliterates over four decades of Reefer Madness-style propaganda and misinformation from the right.
The Department of Health’s National Cancer Institute, having previously insisted that marijuana had no benefit to people, has even changed their tune to say “cannabis and cannabinoids may have benefits in treating the symptoms of cancer or the side effects of cancer therapies” and “cannabis has been shown to kill cancer cells in the laboratory.” Now the organization is “advising that cannabinoids are useful in treating cancer and its side effects by smoking, eating it in a baked product, drinking herbal teas, or even spraying it under the tongue.” Other beneficial uses of pot listed by the U.S. Department of Health include: “reducing anti-inflammatory activity, blocking cancerous cell growth, relieving muscle spasms in multiple sclerosis sufferers, as an effective anti-viral agent, an anti-bacterial and preventing the growth of blood vessels that supply tumors.” New research from Tel Aviv University and Hebrew University show that cannabis may also be able to heal broken bones.
The cancers that cannabis has been proven to be an effective treatment for are brain, colon, liver, lung and breast cancer. Marijuana, when used with chemotherapy, can even boost the effectiveness of treatment and help with unpleasant side effects such as pain, anxiety, loss of appetite and nausea.
Nearly every American knows or has lost someone to cancer, yet only a few states have legalized the highly effective use of medical marijuana. Perhaps this new release of information about the benefits of medical marijuana will lead us to a better, more effective and pleasant way of treating cancer. It may not be a cure-all, but it could at the very least ease the suffering of cancer patients, and that’s something worth legalizing for every American.
Colin Taylor is the editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.