Marijuana a Schedule I drug according to the Drug Enforcement Agency. It is an illegal substance by Federal law but several states, territories, and the District of Columbia have enacted laws to legalize medical and/or recreational use of the drug. The drug has several health benefits but like all drugs it can have different effects on the body. The effects can be viewed as negative by some, positive by others, all about perception. People however need to remember perception is not always reality.
What is reality is the fact that, marijuana can benefit those with cancer in various ways. Inhaled marijuana can help treat the pain caused by damaged nerves. Smoked marijuana can also help a patient going through chemotherapy by easing the nausea and vomiting side effects of the procedure. Patients of chemotherapy often find it hard to have an appetite because the food they eat will most likely make them regurgitate later on. Marijuana gives the user an appetite, which not only helps chemo patients in eating but also helps improve food intake in HIV patients. Marijuana also helps patients sleep and elevates their mood, which isn’t easy when you know you have a life threatening disease. Scientists have reported that the chemicals Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD) found in marijuana can slow the growth and/or cause death in certain types of cancer cells growing in laboratory dishes. These studies show that marijuana can help in treating cancer but it cannot control nor cure the disease, and relying on marijuana alone as treatment for cancer can have serious health consequences.
While marijuana is illegal there are chemically pure drugs based on its compounds that are approved for medical use. Dronabinol (Marinol®) is a capsule that treats nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy and it helps with weight loss and poor appetite in patients with AIDS. The capsule contains the THC compound found in Marijuana. Another drug approved for medical use is Nabilone (Cesamet®) it is a synthetic cannabinoid that is like THC. When other drugs have not worked Nabilone can be taken by mouth to treat nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy.
The American Cancer Society supports the need for more scientific research on marijuana for cancer patients and understands that there needs to be more effective and better treatments that can battle the side effects of cancer and cancer treatments like chemotherapy. The fact that Marijuana is a Schedule I drug restricts the research needed to find out if it can truly help in cancer and cancer treatments. People who claim marijuana is a gateway drug and it should not be used medically in any way are very mistaken. Marijuana being a Schedule I drug and called a gateway drug to stronger drugs makes no sense. If Marijuana is a Schedule I substance determined by the Drug Enforcement Agency then how can using it lead the user to want to use a stronger drug, as far as I know there isn’t any Schedule 0 drugs that are actually stronger than marijuana.