The United States government finally admitted what scientists have known for years — Marijuana contains compounds that can help to cure cancer. A recent post on the government-run website Cancer.gov cited a recent study that the government funded showing the anti-cancer benefits of cannabis.

The Cancer.gov Blog Post

The post cited a study that read in part, “Studies in mice and rats have shown that cannabinoids may inhibit tumor growth by causing cell death, blocking cell growth, and blocking the development of blood vessels needed by tumors to grow. Laboratory and animal studies have shown that cannabinoids may be able to kill cancer cells while protecting normal cells.”

“A study in mice showed that cannabinoids may protect against inflammation of the colon and may have potential in reducing the risk of colon cancer, and possibly in its treatment.” The report goes on to say that, “A laboratory study of delta-9-THC in hepatocellular carcinoma (liver cancer) cells showed that it damaged or killed the cancer cells. The same study of delta-9-THC in mouse models of liver cancer showed that it had antitumor effects.”

Anti-Cancer Properties of CBD & THC

The key ingredients in marijuana that fight cancer — CBD and THC — have been shown to inhibit liver, breast, brain, and lung cancers in official studies ranging back to the 1970’s. The compounds weaken cancer cells and make chemotherapy more effective, according to research. They also have the key benefit of not affecting normal cell growth, allowing cancer patients to bounce back even faster than they would if other drugs were used.

The Cancer.gov post is the first time that any branch of the US government has admitted to the validity of these studies. Although cannabis is still a Schedule I narcotic in the United States, and is illegal across much of the world, the government has pursued a policy of non-interference with medicinal vendors, by and large.

Schedule I Status in Question

In order for a drug to be classified as a Schedule I narcotic in the United States, it needs to have no current medical use. With the latest acknowledgement of the government, that can no longer be officially said about cannabis. The question over whether marijuana will be rescheduled is an open one, but the facts seem to be on the side of medical advocates.

Medical Marijuana Legal in 23 States

Over the past few years, progress has been made by patient advocate groups and other pro-marijuana entities. Medical marijuana is now legal in 23 states and the District of Colombia. It has been legalized entirely, or at least decriminalized, in a handful of other places. The push for medical marijuana dates back to the 1980’s and in some states even earlier than that.

Other Cannabis Trials in Progress

The healing power of cannabis isn’t just limited to cancer. Right now clinical studies are underway and gathering information about whether or not cannabis can be used to treat Alzheimer’s, type I diabetes, and epilepsy, among other illnesses. More than 20 clinical studies about the benefits of medical marijuana are currently ongoing worldwide.

Currently Approved Medications

Although the FDA has yet to recognize the anti-cancer benefits of medical marijuana, they have approved a few marijuana-based drugs for the treatment of some of the side-effects of cancer treatment. Marinol and Nabilone, which are isolated forms of THC, are available to treat nausea from chemotherapy. Although, as of yet, nobody has gotten a marijuana-based drug approved for the direct treatment of cancer.

The Future of Cancer Treatment

As the studies continue to roll in over the next few years, one thing is all but certain: Marijuana is likely the future for cancer treatment, or at least a big part of it. Cannabis contains so many active compounds which ease nausea, attack cancer cells, and relieve pain that it’s only a matter of time before new drugs hit the market in order to take advantage of those facts.  marijuana could be a huge jumping off point for the future of medicine, and experts agree that cannabis compounds are potent and effective.

The stimulation of endocannabinoid receptors is still relatively new science. It’s not known what role that these receptors play in the brain. Although scientists know that endocannabinoid receptors play some role in appetite and satiety, as well as the immune system. Drugs that are tailor made from cannabis to stimulate the endocannabinoid system could be a large part of the future of next-generation medical treatments.