On November 19, 2007, (technically four years ago tomorrow, but I wanted to get a jump on it!), I posted the following on my first blog, Peaceful Ponderings:
Study after study has been performed on the plant known as cannabis or, more frequently, marijuana. More often than not, only positive results have come out in one way or another and the same has happened with the most recent use that has been tested – as a treatment for cancer. Now, I am not talking about smoking the herb after chemotherapy in order to reinstate appetite; instead, I’m talking about using a cannabis component as a replacement for chemo period. Intrigued? I was when I came upon the story on BBC.com this morning.
“Cannabis compound ‘halts cancer’” reports that cannabidiol – CBD – found in the marijuana plant can likely be used as “a non-toxic alternative to chemotherapy”. For those of us who are vigilant law-abiders, it is helpful to acknowledge the fact that CBD lacks the psychoactive attributes that inhaling marijuana smoke provides. Thus, simply smoking the plant will not have the desired effects for chemo patients. Here’s how it works: “CBD works by blocking the activity of a gene called Id-1 which is believed to be responsible for the aggressive spread of cancer cells away from the original tumour site – a process called metastasis. Past work has shown CBD can block aggressive human brain cancers. The latest work found CBD appeared to have a similar effect on breast cancer cells in the lab.” What does this mean? It could mean the possibility of a treatment without the painful side effects of chemotherapy. For cancer patients, this is terrific news.
As medical research continues with more natural remedies such as this one, it could be said that a move towards more holistic health is really where medicine is moving. To be sure, with cannabis alone we have found a variety of uses that are beneficial to humans, health-wise. Back in February studies came out showing that boosting the brain’s chemicals that are cannabis-like in nature has the potential to improve Parkinson’s treatment. In July 2005 scientists in the UK revealed that “patients with inflammatory bowel disease may benefit from cannabis-based drugs” (“Bowel study backs cannabis drugs”, www.bbc.com, 31 July ’05). In June of the same year the drug was found to help relieve mental illness symptoms for patients struggling with such problems as bipolar disorder – “THC helps give the ‘high’ associated with cannabis use, while CBD has been found to have calming properties. Combined, they could help people with bi-polar disorder avoid the manic highs and depressed lows of their condition” (“‘Cannabis’ may help mentally ill”, www.bbc.com). Honestly, just about any illness that causes pain or nausea can be relieved with cannabis, from multiple sclerosis to AIDS. It is impossible for the Drug Enforcement Administration and Food and Drug Administration to remain undeterred in their stance that cannabis has no medicinal value with the massive amounts of evidence to the contrary.
We already know that the amount of money spent on America’s war on drugs is both absurd and ineffective. So tell me this: why do we continue to spend money indiscriminately on reprimanding offenders who grow and sell marijuana (or shall we say weed, pot, herb, ganja, dope, grass, draw, puff, wacky baccy, hash, tea…) when the medicinal properties are much more helpful as opposed to harmful? As long as we are responsible when taking the drug, there is no reason to continue to have it outlawed. Take it from Canada who saves around $150 million annually since marijuana possession has been decriminalized.
The personal use of cannabis is allowed in such places as Canada, Spain, Portugal, and Holland. What does Amsterdam know that we don’t? Why is it okay to buy marijuana there but not here? In the early 1900s, America saw the first outlawing of the drug. According to Wikipedia.org (I know, I know, not the best site in terms of research reliability), “In the 1980s, mandatory sentencing laws were reinstated for large-scale marijuana distribution, three strikes laws were enacted and applied to marijuana possession, and the death sentence was enabled for marijuana drug kingpins.” This was after the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 was passed, classifying marijuana as being potentially abusive with no medical use. Recently, however, decriminalization and medical use allowances are slowly being seen here in the States.
And I mean slowly.
1996 saw the passage of the Compassionate Use Act in California, regulating consumption, possession, cultivation, and distribution of marijuana for medical purposes. Since then, twelve states have followed, implementing similar laws with lesser charges: Alaska; parts of Arkansas; Colorado; parts of Illinois; Lawrence, Kansas; Maine; Massachusetts; parts of Michigan; parts of Missouri; Mississippi; parts of Montana; Nebraska; Nevada; New York; North Carolina; Ohio; Oregon; parts of Washington; and parts of Wisconsin. There are several more with solely medicinal cannabis laws, Rhode Island and Hawaii being two of them.
On top of the medical uses, the Cannabis sativa plant can also be grown to produce hemp, a strong natural fiber that can be put to many organic, sustainable, GREEN uses, including clothing production, rope, paper, fuel (oil), and more.
With so many helpful utilities, why are we not harnessing this plant in order to do more good? When combined with the growing climate crisis, it is also a wonder why we are not legalizing the plant and its uses. Consider this: one acre of hemp grown in annual rotation for 20 years produces as much pulp for paper as 4.1 acres of trees over the same 20 year period. Talk about going
If anyone has any valid reasons why legalization would be harmful nation-wide, feel free to comment. As long as the components THC and CBD can help those who are suffering from a variety of ailments, however, I see no reason why they should be denied access to the drug. If you believe it has the potential for addiction and abuse, take a look at all of the over-the-counter medications people have access to and abuse every day in the US, and are not being taken off the shelves. There will always be people who will use drugs irresponsibly; but for every one abuser, there are at least 50 more people who can benefit positively.