Getting Healthy, Not High: Using Cannabis to Fight Cancer
Speak to the average person about cannabis and they may feel inclined to lower their voice. Perhaps briefly recall memories of wild nights in their college dorm, or never partook, but had friends who did. Some may have particularly strong views on it, based on general beliefs or personal experience.
Wherever you stand on the plant that’s discredited by many and revered by few, pretty soon you’ll be adjusting your stance. People are no longer using cannabis just to get high at parties or chill out on the beach; they’re using it to get healthy. And with the latest collaboration announced between Israel and the U.S, cannabinoid compounds could soon be fighting cancer.
A turbulent past.
Humans have been aware of the healing properties of cannabis for some eight thousand years. This multipurpose, nigh-miraculous plant was praised by the Chinese, Hindus and even Western society before becoming associated with drug use and the Mexican immigrant population after the revolution of 1910.
Since then, people have had a hard time shift perspective on cannabis to shake off negative connotations of drug abuse and foreign cartels. But in recent years the public has begun to see the medicinal value of marijuana. California’s Proposition 215, put in place in 1996, allowed use of marijuana as a pain killer for both AIDS and cancer, with notable results.
Cannabis is becoming more widely accepted every day, with even pharmaceutical giants waking up to the medical possibilities. And it’s about time. The cannabis sector in the U.S. is estimated to reach over $23 billion by 2020.
Cure Pharmaceuticals, along with its partner, the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, will be researching cannabinoid compounds in the treatment leukemia and prostate cancer. Accumulating evidence suggests that cannabinoids possess certain anti-tumor qualities. Various studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of cannabinoids for regressing different cancer types.
There are also numerous cases of cannabis helping children suffering from rare seizure disorders. The American Academy of Pediatrics has not yet endorsed the use of cannabinoid, due to concerns over brain development.
The National Cancer Institute is also not yet singing the praises of cannabis but it is recognizing that potential benefits exist for people who live with cancer, including pain relief, stimulated appetite and improved sleep. Physicians caring for cancer patients in the United States have begun prescribing cannabis predominantly for symptom management, not as a cancer treatment.
Cannabis and the law.
Medical marijuana is now legal in 29 states, each with varying stipulations about the quantity allowed for possession and the conditions it’s permitted to be prescribed. The number of states reached a tipping point midway through last year, with more and more getting on board.
Cannabis is finding a new markets in interesting places, such as among Florida retirees. Could it be a throwback to the 70s? Or more of a need to ease the aches and pains of stiff joints and the onset of age-related diseases?
It’s still a gray area with a potentially uncertain future, vulnerable to political measures, (both presidents Reagan and Bush were able to set back its advancement by years). Yet the growing body of evidence is finally tipping the scales in favor of medical marijuana.
The global wellness industry.
Greater awareness about the importance of our health and lifestyle has led to a rise in demand for health products, and the global wellness industry is now valued at $3.7 trillion. This covers a wide spectrum of areas, from workplace wellness to supplements, public health, and preventative and personalized medicine. There’s money to be made here for companies that get it right.
A plethora of cannabis related startups have appeared on the scene, offering different products, from body lotions to supplements and CBD oil. Many young companies brave enough to venture into this sector are finding their investment is paying off. Medical marijuana is one of the fastest growing segments of the pharmaceutical industry.
Pursuing FDA testing
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not recognized or approved the marijuana plant as medicine yet. This is because the FDA requires meticulously conducted clinical trials in thousands of humans before they can accurately assess the risks and benefits of a medication. When it comes to medical marijuana, there is not yet enough evidence to receive the FDA seal of approval.
However, various studies on cannabinoids have earned the FDA stamp for medications containing the cannabinoid chemical in a capsule form. The hope and expectation of Cure Pharmaceuticals and the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology is that through their research, more medications will be approved, specifically for treatment of cancer.
Cure Pharmaceuticals is one of the first bold companies to pursue FDA testing of cannabinoids. And it's aiming high -- testing how well certain cannabinoids can kill leukemia and prostate cancer cells.
"This research partnership with Technion, which has one of the leading cannabis laboratories in the world, is a crucial step in our goal," said Cure CEO Rob Davidson.
Cure aims to bring new cannabinoid molecules to the market through the formal FDA approval process. This will allow them to target needs unmet by traditional pharmaceutical companies, and potentially cause some industry disruption. Whatever their research uncovers, medical marijuana can no longer be ignored. The future may hold hope for cancer patients as the industry evolves.