What Scientific Studies Say About Marijuana: PART 6

In part five of our series concerning scientific studies conducted on marijuana, we discussed the Shafer Report and its conclusions, which flew in the face of everything public thought about marijuana users — and everything the government was used to saying about users as well. Needless to say, President Nixon — who was responsible for hand-picking the members of that commission — denied the veracity of its reports, and responded by creating the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) a year later. Great job, Mr. President.

The DEA is responsible for thousands upon thousands of arrests, many of which disproportionately target African Americans and members of other minorities. In addition, many of the charges filed led to long stints in jail or federal prison — which were, again, disproportionately laid at the feet of minorities. For more information on that, visit website here.

A 1974 study found that cannabis has cancer-fighting properties. The study was conducted with a different hypothesis, though: to show how dangerous the plant is to the immune system. Researchers working out of the Medical College of Virginia used mice to conduct a series of experiments. They were implanted with tumors before being “treated for 10 consecutive days with delta-9-THC, beginning the day after rumor implantation.”

The researchers believed the THC would make the tumors grow faster. Instead, it showed that the tumors had actually gotten smaller. This research was subsequently published in The Journal of the National Cancer Institute — and after that, the scientists found that their funding quickly evaporated. Somehow, only a single newspaper covered the ridiculously good news.

No one conducted similar research until the year 2000, when Dr. Manuel Guzman published his own version of the study in Nature Magazine that March. He found that THC (and cannabinoids in general) had the ability to reduce cancer size without harming other tissue. He had injected cannabinoids into the brains of 45 rats.

The study explained: “All the rats left untreated uniformly died 12 – 18 days after glioma (brain cancer) cell inoculation … Cannabinoid (THC)-treated rats survived significantly longer than the control rats. THC administration was ineffective in three rats, which died by days 16 – 18. Nine of the THC-treated rats surpassed the time of death of untreated rats, and survived up to 19 – 35 days. Moreover, the tumor was completely eradicated in three of the treated rats.”

When asked whether or not he knew of the existence of the Virginia study in 1974, Guzman said, “I am aware of the existence of that research. In fact I have attempted many times to obtain the journal article on the original investigation by these people, but it has proven impossible.” 

President Gerald Ford ended all marijuana-related research in 1976, but allowed pharmaceutical companies to make an ultimately unsuccessful attempt to develop synthetic THC to reap the same benefits. Because they failed, the public was never given access to the medical benefits of marijuana. 

In 1983, the Reagan Administration provided an initiative to “purge” many of the studies related to THC and marijuana, and many were indeed lost.