Medical Marijuana and Cancer

Overview of CancerCancer therapy word cloud

Cancer occurs as the result of the growth of abnormal cells in your body. They say that everyone is born with some cancer cells, but in some individuals, the cells multiply and grow rapidly. When this happens they overtake the healthy cells and develop into masses or tumors that can cause illness and death. Some forms of cancer can be cured with chemotherapy, radiation or removal of the cancerous area if caught early.

There are various types of cancer. While we tend to describe them by the part of the body they effect, such as lung cancer, stomach cancer, brain tumor, etc., they are generally described in the following medical terms:

• Carcinoma – Accounting for 80% to 90% of all cancers, carcinoma is found in the tissues that line our glands, organs or body structures. Carcinoma often affects bodily organs or glands that involve secretions such as breasts.
• Sarcoma – Sarcoma is a malignant tumor stemming from connecting tissues. It’s most commonly found as a bone tumor, typically in young adults.
• Lymphoma – Lymphoma is a cancer originating from the lymph nodes or glands or in specific organs like the breasts or the brain.
• Leukemia – Leukemia, a cancer of the bone marrow, is also known as blood cancer. There are several types of leukemia, such as chronic lymphocytic leukemia, acute myelogenous leukemia, acute lymphocytic leukemia and chronic myelogenous leukemia.
• Myeloma – Myeloma develops in the plasma cells of the bone marrow. The cells may start in a bone and develop into a single tumor.

Symptoms of Cancer

While cancer often seems to come out of nowhere, knowing what symptoms may be problematic and indicative of cancer can help the patient seek early treatment. Although some types of cancer do not have symptoms, here are some symptoms that may be experienced by cancer patients.

• Anemia
• Bruising
• Persistent weakness and/or fatigue
• Pain in bones and joints
• Swollen lymph nodes
• Chest pains
• Breathing difficulties
• Coughs that don’t seem to go away
• Loss of weight
• Loss of appetite

Use of Medical Marijuana/Cannabis as an Alternative Treatment for Cancer

The human body produces endocannabinoids, which play an important role in keeping our bodies healthy. One way they do this is by generating and regenerating our immune systems, which is what prevents us from getting sick. Cannabis contains various cannabinoids; cannabidiol (CBD) is just one of more than 85 cannabinoids that can be found in cannabis. When used with cancer patients, CBD acts as a sedative, while also increasing alertness, unlike common prescription drugs.

Additionally, studies have indicated that CBD reduces the growth in breast cancers and also reduces the cancer’s invasiveness. Cannabis, in general, is known to actually shrink cancerous tumors. In addition to being used as a treatment for cancer, medical marijuana is often used to help some of the symptoms of cancer, such as nausea and pain. One of the major side effects of chemotherapy is vomiting and nausea. Cancer patients on medical marijuana don’t generally experience these side effects.

Benefits of Using Medical Marijuana As Alternatives to Prescription Drugs

We often hear of cancer patients who refuse treatment because they want to feel as normal as possible during their last days rather than feeling drugged, tired, in pain and nauseous. While it may be the cancer causing the pain, it’s generally the prescription drugs that are causing the other discomfort. Prescription drugs used in cancer patients often make the patient drowsy, tired and nauseous. Additionally, the patient is at high risk of becoming addicted to these drugs. Cancer patients can get relief through medical marijuana without experiencing all the unpleasant side effects of prescription drugs.

Cannabinoids kill hospital superbug MRSA

Chemicals found in marijuana called Cannabinoids may prove useful in the fight against the antibiotic-resistant superbug MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), new research suggests.

Results of a study by researchers in Italy and the UK has revealed that the five major cannabinoids in the Cannabis sativa plant are effective against different strains of MRSA. Two of the cannabinoids tested are nonpsychotropic, which means that they do not possess the mood-altering properties associated with marijuana. Furthermore, the researchers found that the cannabinoids kill bacteria in a different way to traditional antibacterial drugs, thus meaning that MRSA may not be able to develop resistance against them.

The authors write: “Although the use of cannabinoids as systemic antibacterial agents awaits rigorous clinical trials and an assessment of the extent of their inactivation by serum, their topical application to reduce skin colonization by MRSA seems promising.”

Clinical Trials, Studies and Publications:

Antibacterial Cannabinoids from Cannabis sativa

The endocannabinoid anandamide has been reported to affect breast cancer growth at multiple levels


Breast cancer is one of the most frequently diagnosed malignancies and a leading cause of cancer death in women. Great advances in the treatment of primary tumors have led to a significant increment in the overall survival rates, however recurrence and metastatic disease, the underlying cause of death, are still a medical challenge. Breast cancer is highly dependent on neovascularization to progress. In the last years several anti-angiogenic drugs have been developed and administered to patients in combination with chemotherapeutic drugs. Collected preclinical evidence has proposed the endocannabinoid system as a potential target in cancer. The endocannabinoid anandamide has been reported to affect breast cancer growth at multiple levels, by inhibiting proliferation, migration and invasiveness in vitro and in vivo and by directly inhibiting angiogenesis.

Clinical Trials, Studies and Publications:

Anandamide inhibits breast tumor-induced angiogenesis

Medical Marijuana Research

“Medical Marijuana Policy’s (MPP’s) model medical marijuana bill allows patients to obtain a medical marijuana card if they have a qualifying medical condition and a licensed physician believes they are likely to receive therapeutic or palliative benefit from the use of medical marijuana. The qualifying medical conditions listed in the bill are as follows (the state department of health can add others):

1.Cancer, glaucoma, positive status for human immuno-deficiency virus, acquired immune deficiency syndrome, hepatitis C, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Crohn’s disease,agitation of Alzheimer’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder, or the treatment of these conditions; and

2. A chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition or its treatment that produces one or more of the following: cachexia or wasting syndrome; severe, debilitating pain; severe nausea; seizures; or severe and persistent muscle spasms, including but not limited to those characteristic of multiple sclerosis. Key medical references addressing marijuana’s ability to alleviate these conditions are below, with related items/subjects grouped together.

Key medical references addressing marijuana’s ability to alleviate these conditions are below, with related items/subjects grouped together.”

Marijuana Policy Project’s Medical Conditions Handout