29 Mar Cannabis and Cancer

Not entirely unexpectedly, feathers flew on the CLEAR Facebook page this week when an extract from the forthcoming CLEAR document ‘Medicinal Cannabis: The Evidence’ was published. You can read the article that caused such outrage for yourself – There Is No Scientific Evidence That Cannabis Cures Cancer In Humans – Yet.

It was as if CLEAR had published a great sacrilegious heresy. Comments included

This is a lie, everyone that has tried cannabis knows it can stop cancer

and

Extremely disappointed clear. Thank you for showing everybody your hand

Along with many, many more in a similar (and often less polite) vein.

cannabis as medicine

Cannabis As Medicine

What we actually published was a summary of the scientific studies which have been carried out into the effectiveness of cannabis in treating actual cases of cancer in humans and it is true, there is very little such evidence to draw on. As we stated right at the start of the article most of the studies which do exist have been “in vitro” or “in vivo” – lab based or animal studies.

Because we accept this situation for what it is and said so, apparently CLEAR is ‘anti-cannabis’, in the pocket of the prohibition supporting pharmaceutical industry and much worse besides. Actually, it’s fair to say that we’re not the first to receive this outpouring of anger from people who believe – almost faith-like – in the cancer-curing properties of cannabis and in truth we expected it.

What caused this outrage is the huge mass of anecdotal evidence from people who had cancer and claim to have been cured by using cannabis. There are indeed many thousands of such testimonies out there. But as someone also wrote to the comments on Facebook

The plural of ‘anecdote’ is not ‘evidence’

And like it or not, that is the hard truth.

The question which few asked is why haven’t the real-life tests been carried out? That is the question which really needs to be asked. Of course, in large part it’s quite easy to answer; cannabis is prohibited, in schedule 1, meaning it has no medicinal value. This has clearly meant proper human testing has been difficult if not impossible over the years. It also seems to be true that governments, especially the American government, has been, let us say, “reluctant” to publish results which show cannabis as anything less than a highly addictive drug of abuse for degenerates.

However the suspicion that being a plant there is no commercial incentive to produce a product which couldn’t be patented are not true, as SATIVEX has demonstrated. Perhaps because of this things are starting to change, studies are happening and it will be very interesting to see what they come up with.

So what’s the history to this outrage from the readers? Why is there this faith like devotion to the idea that cannabis is the great suppressed cure for cancer?

In no small part this is due to the work of Rick Simpson. Rick has been in the forefront of promoting cannabis oil as a cancer cure for some time now. His website Phoenix Tears has the full story and is well worth a look if you haven’t seen it.

Also worth a watch is the documentary “Run from the cure”

Run From The Cure

Rick promotes treatment using “Rick Simpson Oil” which he defines as pretty much pure THC

extremely potent and sedative purified decarboxylated cannabis resin with 95-98% THC

Something like this of course was bound to attract people out to make a fast buck and Rick himself has tried to warn people of these imposters.

… impostors who have put many Facebook pages also a lot of fake websites with my name…

Rick’s official Facebook page is here. He is clearly a dedicated, honest campaigner for something he believes passionately about and he has a large number of people who are willing to stand up and tell the world of his cure which, it would seem, many have experienced for themselves.

Rick is an honest campaigner, but he is no scientist. His methods simply do not stand up to critical scientific scrutiny and they are actually very easy to criticise.

For example, he advises people to simply swallow blobs of his oil. Now what has to happen in order for the THC to do its work on the cancer is it has to be ingested, in other words absorbed into the blood stream. The problem is oil is not water soluble, so instead of being absorbed into the bloodstream most of the blob will go into the gut where it will be digested. Digestion breaks the THC down into metabolites, which are no use in treating the cancer. This report on BBC’s Newsnight recently claims around 20% of the THC will be ingested, ie 80% wasted. Actually this will vary from person to person, as Rick himself admits, yet he is quite specific about claiming a certain dose regime for curing cancer.

BBC Newsnight 25 Mar 2015

If you’re going to employ such a hit and miss method of taking the drug then it’s just too easy to dismiss the claims he makes. That is a huge pity because it opens up a very easy route for those opposed to cannabis as a medicine to rubbish everything, it’s setting the whole thing up to fail and that simply must not happen. Cancer treatment apart, cannabis has huge medicinal value and there is solid evidence to support these applications.

This is why we need properly conducted tests to establish the truth. Having this attitude doesn’t mean we support prohibition or even that we don’t think there is a huge amount of anecdotal evidence out there. We just accept the need for properly conducted tests, tests which are long overdue and which we suspect will yield spectacular results.

But the CLEAR medicinal campaign has to be built on evidence, not what we believe but what we can prove. We’re not there yet with cannabis and cancer, that’s just how it is.

Derek Williams