In honor of breast cancer awareness month, I would like to point out a key problem that the drug war presents; science is shackled in order to promote politics. According to Burton Richter of the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, science is driven by the need to understand. We want to know something that is previously unknown. The cannabis plant, however, is well known. The historical and archeological references illustrate humans have been using this plant continuously over the last 3000 years. Yet we know nothing about the medicinal qualities of this plant. In fact, most of the available research conducted looks at a very narrow and flawed view of this diverse plant. The Schedule 1 classification for cannabis ensures that the only research done on this incredibly common plant supports and maintains a prohibitionist stance. Sure, there were studies conducted in Holland, Portugal, Germany, and Great Britain, but not here in the United States. Until 1999, the same .75 acres of government sanctioned cannabis sativa was shared between every research institution and university in the United States.
The main reason for this stems from a United Nations treaty called the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs (which explicitly excludes hemp production). The treaty led directly to the creation of the Controlled Substances Act. The Controlled Substances Act led to the creation of (through various incarnations) the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). NIDA is the government body that allocates funds to all research related to drug use and abuse. For FY 2011, the NIDA disbursed $1.08 billion to research “drug abuse”. Because all marijuana studies are considered to be drug abuse studies, the only funds available for research go towards studies that portray cannabis as a dangerous drug.
That is, until California authorized funds for the Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research (CMCR) at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) in 1999. Since then, research has uncovered medical uses for a variety of maladies ranging from headaches and backaches to treating multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, glaucoma, and for complications attributed to AIDS and chemotherapy. The endocannabinoid system has been mapped and explained. There is research on preventative abilities of cannabis for PTSD, Alzheimer’s, and cancer.
In 2007, Foxnews.com wrote an article entitled “Marijuana Compound May Stop Breast Cancer from Spreading, Study Says”. The article explained that a protein called Id-1 is “a key regulator of the spread of breast cancer”, according to Dr. Pierre-Yves Desprez, senior author of the study. The study announced “CBD, a non-toxic cannibinoid that lacks psychoactivity, can inhibit Id-1 gene expression in metastic breast cancer cells and consequently their aggressive phenotype.” The study has since expanded to include mice and they expect to release new findings by the end of the year.
The scientific evidence is growing every day, and new reports come out highlighting positive aspects of medical marijuana. In fact, the UCSD Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research issued a statement earlier this year saying that marijuana does not fit the definition for a Schedule 1 drug classification as defined by the Controlled Substances Act. Rather, they noted, “Based on evidence currently available the Schedule 1 classification is not tenable; it is not accurate that cannabis has no medical value or that information on safety is lacking”
When science is hampered, it cannot ask questions and search for the truth. Galileo was put to death for saying the earth revolved around the sun. His ideas were correct, but the power structure did all they could to suppress the truth. Similarly, marijuana as medicine is confirmed and the evidence is growing despite the active repression by our government. If marijuana can indeed cure cancer, then it is the duty of the government to aggressively seek enlightenment on this subject and free all of the incredibly intelligent minds at our research universities and institutes so that they can get results that have been peer-reviewed and verified.