Most of the evidence concerning cannabis and cancer is in vitro or in vivo (animals). There is virtually none in humans, only human cell lines in petri dishes. There is no evidence of a curative effect. The only clinical trial was purified THC fed directly into glioma brain tumours in nine patients. Eight showed some benefit but all were dead within one year.
The evidence almost certainly will come but it does not yet exist and may require specific extracts, concentrates or other processes to produce reliable, consistent, clinical results.
This is a pre-publication extract from ‘Medicinal Cannabis:The Evidence’, the most comprehensive and up to date review of the evidence on medicinal cannabis, shortly to be published by CLEAR.
Studies And Clinical Trials
The anti cancer properties of THC, CBD, CBG and other cannabinoids are well established. Scientists have been investigating them since the early 1970s and more than 1100 papers on cannabinoids and cancer have been published. (42)
It is also well established that cannabis helps with the side effects of cancer treatments, particularly nausea and lack of appetite. (43,44,45,46)
Cannabis may also help alleviate anxiety, depression, insomnia and mood disorders in cancer patients. However, some patients may find exactly the opposite results (47)
A very large quantity of anecdotal reports detail remarkable results with cannabis oil on many different forms of cancer. (48) One of the most important properties of cannabis as a cancer therapy is that it is non-toxic and even if little therapeutic effect is achieved, it causes little harm.
On balance, while there is good evidence of anti cancer properties in vitro (human cell lines) and in vivo (animal) studies, there is little evidence of actual results in humans except in the treatment of basal cell carcinoma (49). However, few would disagree that the palliative value of cannabis is of great benefit to many cancer patients. (50)
Clinical trials are underway on cancer pain (51) and the treatment of glioma brain cancer (52).
These selected studies indicate the evidence currently available.
Cannabinoids and cancer: potential for colorectal cancer therapy. Biochem Soc Trans. 2005. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16042581 (53)
A pilot clinical study of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol in patients with recurrent glioblastoma multiforme, British Journal of Cancer, 2006 http://www.nature.com/bjc/journal/v95/n2/full/6603236a.html (54)
Cannabinoids for Cancer Treatment: Progress and Promise. Cancer Res. 2008. http://cancerres.aacrjournals.org/content/68/2/339 (55)
Cannabidiol Induces Programmed Cell Death in Breast Cancer Cells by Coordinating the Cross-talk between Apoptosis and Autophagy. Mol Cancer Ther., 2011. http://mct.aacrjournals.org/content/10/7/1161.long (56)
The intersection between cannabis and cancer in the United States. CROH, 2011. http://www.croh-online.com/article/S1040-8428(11)00231-9/fulltext (57)
Cannabinoids: a new hope for breast cancer therapy? Cancer Treat Rev. 2012 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22776349 (58)
Towards the use of cannabinoids as antitumour agents. Nat Rev Cancer. 2012 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22555283 (59)
Cannabis Extract Treatment for Terminal Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia with a Philadelphia Chromosome Mutation. Case Rep Oncol. 2013. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3901602/ (60)
Non-hallucinogenic cannabinoids are effective anti-cancer drugs. Anticancer Research, 2013. http://www.sgul.ac.uk/news/news/study-shows-non-hallucinogenic-cannabinoids-are-effective-anti-cancer-drugs (61)
Cannabidiol as potential anticancer drug. Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2013. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22506672%20 (62)
Cannabis, cannabinoids and cancer – the evidence so far. Cancer Research UK, 2014. http://scienceblog.cancerresearchuk.org/2012/07/25/cannabis-cannabinoids-and-cancer-the-evidence-so-far/ (63)
The Combination of Cannabidiol and Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol Enhances the Anticancer Effects of Radiation in an Orthotopic Murine Glioma Model. Mol.Cancer.Ther. 2014. http://mct.aacrjournals.org/content/13/12/2955 (64)
42. PubMed search term ‘cannabinoid cancer’ http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?term=cannabinoid%20cancer
43. Cannabis and Cannabinoids. National Cancer Institute, 2014 http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/cam/cannabis/healthprofessional/page5
44. Cannabinoids in medicine: A review of their therapeutic potential. JEthPharm, 2006. http://www.ww.ufcw770.org/sites/all/themes/danland/files/CannabinoidsMedMetaAnalysis06.pdf
45. Review on clinical studies with cannabis and cannabinoids 2005-2009. IACM 2010. http://www.cannabis-med.org/data/pdf/en_2010_01_special.pdf
46. Medical marijuana for cancer. CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, 2014. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.3322/caac.21260/abstract
47. Cannabis and Cannabinoids. National Cancer Institute, 2014 http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/cam/cannabis/healthprofessional/page5
48. Cannabis Oil Testimonials. Cure Your Own Cancer, 2014. http://www.cureyourowncancer.org/testimonials.html
49. Physician’s documentation confirms successful treatment of basal cell carcinoma resulted from the application of a topical cannabis extract. Cannabis Science, 2011. http://www.cannabisscience.com/2011/499-cannabis-science-provides-physician-s-documentation-that-confirms-successful-treatment-of-skin-cancer
50. Cannabis in Palliative Medicine: Improving Care and Reducing Opioid-Related Morbidity. AM J HOSP PALLIAT CARE, 2011. http://ajh.sagepub.com/content/28/5/297
51. Third phase III Sativex cancer pain trial commences http://www.gwpharm.com/Third%20phase%20III%20Sativex%20cancer%20pain%20trial%20commences.aspx
52. GW Pharmaceuticals Commences Phase 1b/2a Clinical Trial for the Treatment of Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM) http://is.gd/Wac81a
53. Cannabinoids and cancer: potential for colorectal cancer therapy. Biochem Soc Trans. 2005. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16042581
54. A pilot clinical study of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol in patients with recurrent glioblastoma multiforme, British Journal of Cancer, 2006 http://www.nature.com/bjc/journal/v95/n2/full/6603236a.html
55. Cannabinoids for Cancer Treatment: Progress and Promise. Cancer Res. 2008. http://cancerres.aacrjournals.org/content/68/2/339
56. Cannabidiol Induces Programmed Cell Death in Breast Cancer Cells by Coordinating the Cross-talk between Apoptosis and Autophagy. Mol Cancer Ther., 2011. http://mct.aacrjournals.org/content/10/7/1161.long
57. The intersection between cannabis and cancer in the United States. CROH, 2011. http://www.croh-online.com/article/S1040-8428(11)00231-9/fulltext
58. Cannabinoids: a new hope for breast cancer therapy? Cancer Treat Rev. 2012 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22776349
59. Towards the use of cannabinoids as antitumour agents. Nat Rev Cancer. 2012 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22555283
60. Cannabis Extract Treatment for Terminal Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia with a Philadelphia Chromosome Mutation. Case Rep Oncol. 2013. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3901602/
61. Non-hallucinogenic cannabinoids are effective anti-cancer drugs. Anticancer Research, 2013. http://www.sgul.ac.uk/news/news/study-shows-non-hallucinogenic-cannabinoids-are-effective-anti-cancer-drugs
62. Cannabidiol as potential anticancer drug. Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2013. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22506672%20
63. Cannabis, cannabinoids and cancer – the evidence so far. Cancer Research UK, 2014. http://scienceblog.cancerresearchuk.org/2012/07/25/cannabis-cannabinoids-and-cancer-the-evidence-so-far/
64. The Combination of Cannabidiol and Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol Enhances the Anticancer Effects of Radiation in an Orthotopic Murine Glioma Model. Mol.Cancer.Ther. 2014. http://mct.aacrjournals.org/content/13/12/2955
Some people think the BBC is right wing and others think it’s run by a bunch of commie subversives. Personally I’d say it’s soft left, mumsy, pro-status quo. It supports the establishment and that means it’s always been negative about cannabis. If it isn’t joining in the demonisation of us – the three million psychotic axe murderers that use cannabis regularly in the UK – then it takes a jokey, sarcastic, snide angle.
So the release of a short news video report today ‘Can cannabis oil cure serious diseases like cancer?’ is a big step forward. Even better, it’s fronted by Alastair Leithead, a credible, intelligent journalist, not by some ‘celebrity doctor’ or the ‘addiction expert’ Professor John Marsden, who presented the disgraceful and misleading ‘America’s Stoned Kids’ in 2012, where he tried to pin adolescents with cannabis problems on Colorado’s legalisation even though it hadn’t even come into force at the time.
Mark my words, this is a step change, a seminal moment.
Perhaps, at last, the UK media will start treating medicinal cannabis seriously as has been happening in America and Australia for many years. We’ve already seen some local newspapers publishing intelligent articles and the Daily Mail has jumped on the bandwagon of sensationalist stories about treating childhood epilepsy. All we need now is The Times, The Guardian and the Sundays to give it the attention it deserves. The Daily Telegraph has become the new home of ‘reefer madness’, with appalling distortion of science, more tabloid than a tabloid. But we don’t need it anymore, it’s made itself irrelevant.
So watch this short video. It includes interviews with Kat Arney of Cancer Research UK, a woman who is cancer free after rejecting chemotherapy and only using cannabis oil and a sceptical Professor David Agus, who is entirely correct that there is no credible scientific evidence yet available that cannabis cures cancer.
It’s coming though. CLEAR is about to publish the most comprehensive, up to date paper ‘Medicinal Cannabis:The Evidence’. A leading pharmacologist is about to publish a paper supporting a move of cannabis from schedule one to schedule two and various clinical trials are coming to fruition.
All the more reason to be optimistic that the next Parliament will have no option but to introduce long-overdue reform.
Charles Walker MP, Parliament’s cheerleader for the ‘skunk scaremongerers’ shot himself and his hysterical campaign in the foot yesterday.
He had submitted a parliamentary written question asking:
“…how many people under 18 years of age have been treated in NHS-funded mental health units for cannabis-induced psychosis in each of the last five years?”
The answer from Jane Ellison MP, minister of state at the Department of Health, must have gravely disappointed Mr Walker. She revealed there have been average of just over 28 ‘finished admission episodes’ for each of the past five years. That doesn’t necessarily mean 28 people as it could include the same person being admitted more than once.
Of course, each of these 28 cases is a tragedy for the people involved and nothing must distract from that but it clearly shows that in public health terms, ‘cannabis psychosis’ (which some senior psychiatrists don’t even believe is a genuine diagnosis) is virtually unheard of. So much for the endless newspaper columns, the endlessly repeated ‘studies’ that never reach any conclusion and the endless moralising and deceit from those who make money from this scare story – either from providing ‘therapy’ or by fleecing money from those prepared to fund so-called science that sets out to reach a pre-determined conclusion.
Of course, not only are these cases very, very few in number but they have arisen under the present policy of prohibition when the market is in the hands of criminals. How much could we reduce this number if government took a responsible approach and regulated the market? With proper quality control, age limits, better education and harm reduction surely we could make the cannabis market safer than it is in the hands of the criminal underworld?
“I don’t think it causes mental illness. I have never seen a case of so-called cannabis psychosis.”
Dr Trevor Turner, East London and City University Mental Health NHS Trust
So this is very, very bad news for Charles Walker, for his sponsor, Mary Brett of ‘Cannabis Skunk Sense’, for Peter Hitchens, David Raynes, Sarah Graham, Theresa May and hundreds of rehab clinics, therapists and charlatans who talk up the cannabis psychosis scare story. The Daily Mail and the Daily Telegraph, which systematically misrepresent and distort evidence on the subject are exposed for what they are. Even those on the reform side like Transform, who have chosen the dubious path of talking up cannabis as ‘dangerous’ in order to sell their consultancy services, are disgraced. Their credibility is destroyed. Their argument is false and it always has been.
The husband and wife team of Professor Sir Robin Murray and Dr Marta Di Fiori, have built up a family business in skunk scaremongering. Every year they release another ‘study’ which says almost exactly the same as the last one, never shows any causative effect but is relentlessly exaggerated and regurgitated for those who want to demonise cannabis and cannabis users. Their last point is always ‘more research is needed’. I wonder is there anyone stupid enough out there to continue funding this vendetta against the three million people in the UK that enjoy cannabis or use it as medicine? Similarly in Australia, Professor Wayne Hall and his colleagues at the National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre, have built their careers and made a lot of money pursuing this futile goal of proof that cannabis cause mental illness. The figures prove them all wrong. They are all self-serving propagandists and deceivers, nothing more.
These figures are more than evidence, they are facts and they prove that ‘cannabis psychosis’ is such an infinitesimally small risk, that we really need to stop wasting so much time, energy and money on it. We need to get on, legalise, regulate and start bringing the market under proper control, stop wasting money on futile law enforcement and research and start generating tax revenue and providing therapeutic and financial benefits for the whole community.
What is this ‘hash’ that looks like weed and this ‘skunk’ that isn’t cannabis?
Channel 4’s ‘Drugs Live:Cannabis On Trial‘ played fast and loose with facts, terminology and ethical considerations.
To be fair, I greatly enjoyed the programme (well I would wouldn’t I) and there was some fascinating science. Particularly about how the brain responds to music when you’re high and about how CBD protects the ‘salience network’, the key to motivation. This gives weight to the theory of an ‘amotivational syndrome’.
In a week’s time though, all that most of the public will remember is Jon Snow saying that using ‘skunk’ was more terrifying than being in a war zone and his distorted reporting of the recent study by which he implied that 25% of people who use ‘skunk’ will become psychotic.
So I am left with very mixed feelings. The pre-publicity was a disgrace: inaccurate, misleading, unethical – words I have already published and I stand by them.
The brazen misuse of the terms ‘skunk’ and ‘hash’ is an appalling error of judgement by Channel 4, Renegade Pictures and yes, sadly, by two scientists for whom I have the greatest of respect: Professors Val Curran and David Nutt.
Why would you choose to use the same word as the gutter press chooses to demonise cannabis? ‘Skunk’ is a scary word and what it really means is a sativa dominant strain with a modest THC content of 8% and only traces of CBD.
As for hash, it also has a specific meaning: the compressed resin, derived from the plant by sieving or by hand rubbing. By definition a more concentrated form of cannabis, yet the programme claimed exactly the opposite.
A far better, more accurate, more scientific and informative shorthand would have been to describe the cannabis as low CBD, high CBD and placebo.
Surely, whether we agree or disagree with their evidence, we are entitled to expect precision and accuracy from scientists?
The fundamental problem with this programme was that there were no cannabis experts present, only detached academics and scientists or cannabis users who were hardly well informed or articulate. I did of course volunteer but for some reason the producers saw fit to exclude anyone from the cannabis campaign or anyone who has both in depth knowledge and real experience.
Unfortunately, this programme will go the same way as all those other earnest endeavours, ‘The Union’, ‘The Culture High’, ‘In Pot We Trust’, etc – all very enjoyable, self-affirming and satisfying but all preaching to the choir. I’ll be interested to see what the viewing figures were for last night’s programme.
The best bit was David Nutt’s final conclusion. On his scale of harms, even low CBD cannabis (the demon ‘SKUNK’) is less harmful than alcohol, heroin, crack, meth, cocaine, tobacco and speed. After the study he concludes that high CBD cannabis is the least harmful drug of all.
Fight back against Channel 4’s war on cannabis.
‘Drugs Live:Cannabis‘ is a massive fraud perpetrated on the British people by a broadcaster that places cheap and dishonest scaremongering above its duty for truth and balance.
I expect the programme itself to be balanced and probably reach the correct conclusion on the evidence but the pre-publicity has been misleading and irresponsible. Most people reached by the pre-publicity won’t watch the programme.
The pre-publicity for next week’s programme ‘Drugs Live: Cannabis on Trial’ has been nothing but a repeat of 1930s ‘Reefer Madness’. See ‘Jon Snow gets the inside dope on skunk’ for his commentary and a video.
It is tragic that respected journalists, Jon Snow and Matthew Paris, both of whom have been intelligent opponents of the disastrous drugs war, have been duped and manipulated into being used as sensationalist propaganda by an unscrupulous production company, Renegade Pictures. After Channel 4’s prejudicial and hate-mongering programme, Benefits Street, one would have hoped that its editors would have learned lessons and resolved to take a more responsible approach.
I have been in correspondence with Renegade Pictures, with UCL, which is responsible for ethical approval of the study and with Jon Snow. Today I have written to the Chief Executive of Channel 4.
124, Horseferry Road
Dear Mr Abraham,
Drugs Live: Cannabis on Trial. Due for broadcast 3rd March 2015
There are compelling reasons why you should halt the broadcast of this programme in its present form. It is grossly irresponsible, deeply unethical and highly misleading.
I write as the elected leader of more than 320,000 supporters of cannabis law reform. CLEAR represents more people than all other UK drugs policy groups combined. I have made repeated attempts to engage with the producers of this programme, Renegade Pictures, but apart from one acknowledgement my correspondence has been ignored. This is an open letter which will be published on the CLEAR website.
A comprehensive complaint will be made to OFCOM if the programme is broadcast in its present form and I am already in touch with UCL on the question of ethics. At this stage I want to draw to your attention to conclusive evidence of the unethical basis of this programme.
The study being conducted by Professors Curran and Nutt is important science. However, it is not original and the outcome is a foregone conclusion. It is well established in other research and widely understood that CBD moderates the psychoactive effects of THC.
The cannabis used in the programme is not ‘skunk’ as claimed, it is a ‘haze’ variety produced by Bedrocan BV, the Netherlands government official producer of medicinal cannabis. It is prescribed as medicine by doctors in Holland, Belgium, Italy, Germany and Canada.
I would refer you to the Netherlands Office for Medicinal Cannabis, which regulates Bedrocan products. It publishes guidelines for medical professionals which can be seen here: BEDROCAN GUIDELINES
On using a vapouriser these state:
“Inhale a few times until the desired effect is reached or until psychological side-effects occur. Wait 5-15 minutes after the first inhalation and wait between inhalations.”
If you now observe the ludicrous overdose that Jon Snow and Matthew Paris were subjected to, you will understand how gravely irresponsible is the conduct of the programme’s producers.
Aside from the impact on the individuals concerned, this programme will present a highly misleading and false impression of the use of cannabis which millions of British people participate in every day.
I urge you to take prompt action and stop the broadcast of this programme in its present form.
Join The Campaign For Medicinal Cannabis On A Doctor’s Prescription.
Despite overwhelming evidence, the UK government insists that cannabis has “no medicinal value”. Present policy is deeply cruel and means that at least one million people in Britain are forced to become criminals in order to deal with their pain, suffering or disability.
We must change this dreadful and unjust policy. It’s time to help rather than persecute people who genuinely need cannabis to improve their health. DONATE HERE.
The AdVan Campaign.
CLEAR is the UK’s leading drugs policy reform group with more than 270,000 followers. We will run an AdVan for one week in central London during the busy pre-Christmas period. This will deliver the simple, direct message that you see above and it will be backed by a supporting PR campaign, lobbying of government ministers and MPs as well as further information on the CLEAR website.
Please donate whatever you can. Every pound makes a difference. We need to raise £3500 to run the AdVan for one week. If we raise more we will run it for longer. DONATE HERE.
Please Donate Now!
Our Simple And Reasonable Request To UK Government.
In 1998, GW Pharmaceuticals was granted a licence to grow cannabis and its cannabis oil medicine, Sativex, is now approved but doctors are prevented from prescribing it because it is so fantastically expensive.
The Dutch government approves a cannabis medicine called Bedrocan which provides exactly the same as Sativex at a tiny fraction of the price. Sativex costs between £375 – £560 per month. Bedrocan costs £35 – £95 per month.
All we ask is that if a doctor prescribes Bedrocan, the Home Office should issue an import licence. This is a narrow, tightly defined reform that will not encourage illicit use but will provide enormous help to some very poorly people. DONATE HERE.
Every year, thousands of medicinal cannabis users are prosecuted for possessing or growing cannabis. Often it is the only medicine that helps them with chronic pain, fibromyalgia, MS, Crohn’s disease, epilepsy, depression or many of the conditions related to aging. It is also used to mitigate the side effects of chemotherapy and HIV/Aids treatments.
In November 2014, the Liberal Democrat MP Norman Baker resigned as a government minister because of the Conservatives’ refusal even to consider drugs policy reform. In July 2014 he met with members of CLEAR and publicly called for cannabis to be legalised for medicinal use. Other ministers are more concerned with stopping people getting high (which they are going to do anyway) than in helping those with severe medical conditions. DONATE HERE.
The madness of Queen Theresa is killing the British people.
She presides over a government that has succeeded in making alcohol stronger and more easily available, leading to the highest rate of liver disease in the world.
She sides with King Canute’s advisors in believing she can hold back the tide of demand for cannabis and ecstasy, drugs that are safely consumed by millions. Her deranged efforts to ‘ban them, ban them, ban them’ have led to the rise in ‘legal highs‘, far more dangerous, untested, unpredictable, sold at enormous profit without any control at all.
Now she’s desperately trying to shut the stable door that she opened . According to her bible, The Daily Mail, “More than 20 UK music festivals have banned the sale of ‘legal highs’ at their events this summer”.
The only sensible advice if you’re going to a festival this year is beer and wine in moderation but stick to the safe stuff. Cannabis has never killed anyone, neither has LSD. About 25 deaths have been attributed to ‘E’ but that’s with about 500,000 doses taken every weekend for 30 years.
So roll a spliff (tobacco free), maybe pop a pill or two. Stay safe.