Cannabis in Cancer Care

“Cannabis has been used in medicine for thousands of years prior to achieving its current illicit substance status. Cannabinoids, the active components of Cannabis sativa, mimic the effects of the endogenous cannabinoids (endocannabinoids), activating specific cannabinoid receptors, particularly CB1 found predominantly in the central nervous system and CB2 found predominatly in cells involved with immune function. Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, the main bio-active cannabinoid in the plant, has been available as a prescription medication approved for treatment of cancer chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting and anorexia associated with the AIDS wasting syndrome. Cannabinoids may be of benefit in the treatment of cancer-related pain, possibly synergistic with opioid analgesics. Cannabinoids have been shown to be of benefit in the treatment of HIV-related peripheral neuropathy, suggesting that they may be worthy of study in patients with other neuropathic symptoms. Cannabinoids have a favorable drug safety profile, but their medical use is predominantly limited by their psychoactive effects and their limited bioavailability.”

“Unfortunately, most physicians currently practicing medicine…have little or no knowledge of the biological actions of (endo)cannabinoids and the medicinal qualities of cannabis. Much of the discussion is dominated by addiction medicine specialists who have a skewed view of the health consequences of cannabis use by virtue of their specialty. Certainly a practicing oncologist is likely to have a much different perception of the risk:benefits of cannabis compared to the addiction medicine specialist. (http://ww.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/cam/cannabis/healthprofessional/).”

Clinical Trials, Studies and Publications:

Cannabis in Cancer Care

 

Medical Cannabis Laws and Opioid Analgesic Overdose Mortality in the United States, 1999-2010

Since the late 1990s, the number of people dying from opioid painkiller overdoses has steadily risen — with more than 16,000 deaths reported in 2013. And one study in JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) Psychiatry found opioid painkiller use has contributed to the rising use of heroin, another opioid, which is even deadlier and more addictive than painkillers.

As of July 2014, a total of 23 states have enacted laws establishing medical cannabis programs and chronic or severe pain is the primary indication in most states. Medical cannabis laws are associated with increased cannabis use among adults. This increased access to medical cannabis may reduce opioid analgesic use by patients with chronic pain, and therefore reduce opioid analgesic overdoses.

Clinical Trials, Studies and Publications:

Medical Cannabis Laws and Opioid Mortality