Understanding the science of cannabis is integral to appropriate regulation and use
Wednesday, April 04, 2012 by: Raw Michelle
Cannabis is a plant with demonstrable antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, both aspects that point to its potential to be used as an anti-cancer drug. Cannabinoids have been used in tentative studies, demonstrating their ability to greatly reduce tumours, and cure cancer, in mice.
A controlled substance
The medical establishment continues to reinvent their justification for the demonization of marijuana as more and more of the claims made against cannabis are disproven. The justification currently holding the most ground is that cannabis is a plant, and cannot be carefully regulated because of the great chemical variability that is found between individual plants.
Of course, medications have to be carefully monitored when the substance being used is also a poison at a slightly higher dose, as the overwhelming majority of pharmaceuticals are. And while one could understand the desire to maintain the strict regulation standards, the fact is that attempts to fix the purity problem have severely reduced its medical potency, and process has no real benefit. Control doesn’t make the substance any safer because it isn’t dangerous in the first place. Its toxicity is comparable to water. Yes, an individual could make themselves feel very unwell if they surpass their stomach’s physical limits with any substance.
A medicine to save us from medicines
Individuals who have successfully used cannabis as a part of cancer therapy agree that there needs to be more research and more discussion about the actual science behind the plant’s chemistry – not just anecdotal evidence from individual users. Unfortunately, most of the investigation of the medical applications for cannabis are being done illegally and in secret. The controversy, even according to the researchers themselves, is the main barrier to conducting scientific studies of the plant’s properties. As a substance classified as a Schedule I drug, even research on cannabis is an illegal activity. Many sick individuals simply cannot wait for governments to get over their hang-ups, nor can the expectation that they should be justified. Currently, patients are required to exhaust the potential of other anti-nausea medications, many of which are less safe, in order to be prescribed medical marijuana.
Inaugural beginnings of real science
The government has licensed a few manufacturers to produce THC acid extracts from the cannabis plant, as well to artificially synthesize the chemical. The problem is that the tentative separation has only resulted in a THC that has a profoundly diminished efficacy, and leaves behind the other 88 healing cannabinoids.
In a medical context, cannabis is almost exclusively used as a treatment for the symptoms of chemotherapy – the polite name for radiation sickness. It must be remembered that THC is rarely used to treat cancer itself, and that patients are not really tapping into its healing properties. The overwhelming majority of patients are using the plant’s psychoactive properties to mediate the deleterious effects of radiation. The direct effect of THC on ailments themselves is a largely unexplored field. As research moves forward, the artificially manufactured cannabinoids will inevitably increase in quality, eliminating the purity problems, and paving the way for the kind of precise control that will make regulators comfortable distributing the product.