Cannabis shows so much potential as medicine it’s ridiculous. It reduces nausea in cancer patients, it helps ease the pains of PTSD, and it reduces seizures in epileptics. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
But one area shows special promise. Scientists are so excited about the future of marijuana and brain cancer that they’ve started a crowdfunding effort to pay for research. The ultimate hope is that weed may slow, diminish, or even kill off certain brain tumors.
If it does, the implications for a wide range of cancer treatments and research efforts would be profound, to say the least. The problem, as usual, is that there isn’t an awful lot of science on the subject.
Reduces tumors in rats
Early studies suggest marijuana fights tumors in rats, but it’s a big leap from rats to humans. More research is needed to determine whether the drug has the same effect on people. And that’s where the scientists at Walacea come in.
Walacea is a crowdfunding platform dedicated to grassroots scientific research projects. Earlier this year the British group raised enough money to pay for an important LSD brain imaging study. They need more than $90,000 for the cannabis project, but the success of the last campaign suggests it shouldn’t be terribly difficult.
Crowdfunding is becoming increasingly critical for marijuana science. Most studies are funded at least in part by federal research grants, and the U.S. government is notoriously stingy when it comes to paying for studies involving cannabis or other drugs listed under schedule 1 of the Controlled Substances Act.
“Donating to cannabis medical research is essential to highlight the potential of cannabinoids to treat a range of conditions,” said Jorge Cervantes, a horticulturalist and medical cannabis advocate involved with the project.
Effect of cannabinoids on cancer cells
Specifically, the study will examine whether the diverse chemicals found in weed, known as cannabinoids, have the ability to kill brain cancer cells. These cannabinoids include THC and CBD, both important to medical and recreational users. But there are many other, lesser-known cannabinoids that could hold the key to cancer treatment.
Better science matters, not just to researchers and bureaucrats but to doctors and their patients. Medical marijuana users are often at a loss for useful, reliable data about the effectiveness of cannabis in treating their health problems. The Controlled Substances Act stands in their way.
“The law is there to protect people,” said Natalie Jonk, founder of Walacea. “Yet by making cannabis a Schedule 1 drug, it makes people who wish to benefit from its medicinal properties criminals.”
The Walacea project could ultimately change the way not only patients and physicians but also political leaders view marijuana. It’s badly needed science, if only because weed holds the potential to make life better for so many people.