Recently, Canada legalized the use of recreational marijuana. The move made them the second country to fully decriminalize cannabis, with Uruguay being the first. Before the government made these plans, however, scientists have already dedicated their efforts to study medical marijuana.
For centuries, people used marijuana as herbal medicine. The American Cancer Society noted that medical experts noticed the plant’s biologically active components known as cannabinoids such as the most commonly-studied delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).
However, there are over a hundred cannabinoids in a marijuana plant. These two cannabinoids give the marijuana plant its recreational and medicinal properties respectively. THC provides the feeling of getting high, while CBD, on the other hand, counters the sensation and possess anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective agents.
Most studies on cannabinoids used mice and rats as test subjects. In the research by Dr. Manuel Guzman from the Complutense University of Madrid, it showed that cannabinoids caused cell death and stopped cancer cells from spreading. It also reduced the risk of metastasis by preventing the cells from moving to other tissues.
As for the people, the National Cancer Institute said that cannabinoids suppressed symptoms from chemotherapy such as nausea, pain, anxiety, insomnia, and lack of appetite. However, there are limited studies relating to how cannabinoids directly attack specific cancer types.
Therefore, experts conclude that there is an insufficient study which proves that marijuana could cure cancer. They also advise that not all tumors have the same response to cannabinoids and to proceed with caution regarding the use of cannabis for medical purposes.
Because of the situation, it is not yet safe to say that marijuana shall replace traditional treatment. Doctors would have to continue doing in-depth and advanced investigations on how cannabis could cure cancer itself instead of just the effects.