The therapeutic use of marijuana has always been quite a controversial topic. In the absence of acceptance of results with clinical trials in real patients with different types of cancer whose experience with the use of cannabis has been scientifically proven, talking about marijuana and cancer is, in many cases, like talking about faith and religion. But fundamentally it is talking about many prejudices.
Marijuana for palliative treatments
Until relatively recently, the effects of medical marijuana were only studied in relation to chronic pain. When talking about a variety of marijuana with a high content of CBD (one of the cannabinoids that the plant contains), it was normally recommended for application in situations of insomnia, for migraines or for muscle-type pain.
Since the last decade and in view of the evidence that marijuana, not only as a recreational plant but also as a medicinal drug, has great potential, interest in its application in one of the most deadly diseases for humans begins to emerge. : cancer.
In this sense, it would be necessary to speak of two lines of research. A much more complex first line is the one that attempts to scientifically determine the scope of cannabis as an antitumor agent. In this field, studies and clinical results are still very limited today to be able to make a statement as blunt as that certain varieties of cannabis act as inhibitors of certain types of cancer.
On the other hand, and with much more optimistic results, is the field of application of marijuana in palliative treatments. In this area, it has been shown that high levels of cannabinoids act as a powerful natural analgesic when it comes to controlling some of the side effects derived from the most aggressive cancer treatments (chemotherapy and radiotherapy).
Cannabinoids (THC and CBD) are two of the most important and abundant chemical components of cannabis and when they work together, that is, when their levels are very balanced, it is said that the use of marijuana does not have a recreational use, since that does not produce a high psychoactive, but therapeutic. Technically, these compounds work by activating the receptors that are distributed throughout the cells of the body and sending them the order that do something.
In this case, the order is very simple: to produce certain pharmacological effects that mainly affect the central nervous system and that result in that pleasant sedative effect that makes pain, anxiety or nausea disappear. It is a very simplified way of explaining how the chemical responses of these connections are triggered, but the idea you should stay with is that it has been shown that cannabinoids interact with certain receptors and that thanks to them they can channel their effects, whether they are psychoactive or medicinal, depending on the degree of CBD concentration.
In Spain and in many European countries these treatments are not legal.
In recent years the Old Continent has been experiencing a certain openness in relation to the use of marijuana as a therapeutic treatment, including cannabis to relieve cancer pain. However, Europe is still quite far from reaching the level of flexibility that is becoming more and more widespread in places like Canada or the United States (if Donald Trump does not modify these lines) where in many states cannabis is already part of medicine. natural in pain treatments.
In Spain, around 50,000 cancer patients use cannabis illegally to alleviate the effects of his illness. And it is that although it has not been possible to clinically demonstrate that cannabis is an antitumor drug capable of stopping the advance of cancer or preventing its appearance, there is empirical evidence that facing the negative consequences caused by chemotherapy cycles with cannabinoid help is much more bearable.
The PP deputy who smokes marijuana
His name is Eduardo Van den Eynde and he is the spokesman for the PP in the Parliament of Cantabria. A few months ago he became very popular by claiming in an open letter titled Therapeutic cannabis now! the legalization of marijuana for medicinal purposes. As Van den Eynde confessed in this petition in a personal capacity, due to his illness (a cancer that he surpassed five years ago and from which he is now suffering his ninth relapse, for which he has once again been treated with chemotherapy) «cannabis helps and in a very remarkable way to alleviate what are perhaps the most pernicious effects of these treatments: nausea, fatigue and mood.
Following the request of the PP spokesman, Cantabria has become the fifth Spanish Autonomous Community to start the progress towards the regularization of marijuana for therapeutic use, in the same way that Valencia, the Basque Country, Catalonia, Navarra and the Balearic Islands had previously done. Another step forward that, despite the many obstacles that the central government continues to put up, represents an important milestone in the change that sooner or later everyone predicts.
The importance of developing clinical studies
The true potential of cannabis as an antitumor treatment in humans can only be discovered and assessed through research. Clinical trials in animals have opened the door to some hypotheses that could point towards the inhibition (even if only anecdotally) of certain cancer cells.
No matter how we are lovers of marijuana, it is important not to demagogue with these types of issues because the results of the research do not yet seem to be revealing enough to be accepted by the scientific community. We are far from being able to affirm that cannabis and substances such as cannabinoids are capable of cure cancer or preventing its advance.
But from the discoveries that have already been made, medicine is capable of taking on new challenges and in this advance it is of vital importance that the research carried out in laboratories be extrapolated to real patients to determine the scope of marijuana as a drug effective against different types of cancer.