Many cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy use cannabis to stimulate their appetite and relieve their nausea. It’s probably the medical use of the plant that has the most support from doctors.
It’s also true that some studies, most of them performed on animals, have shown that CBD and perhaps other cannabinoids are “anticancer agents,” i.e. kill cancer cells.
Some day there may be cancer-fighting drugs derived from cannabinoids. That isn’t the same thing as saying ‘weed cures cancer,’ though too often people in the cannabis community suggest it is. But a pioneering new study could begin to shed light on the largely unstudied relationship between cannabis and the disease.
In the U.K., cancer charities and the National Health Service are partnering on a first of its kind experiment to see whether the cannabis-derived drug Sativex helps chemotherapy to fight a recurring, aggressive brain tumor called glioblastoma.
- Sativex was developed by GW Pharmaceuticals, the same U.K. company which developed Epidiolex, the CBD drug which has won FDA approval to treat severe pediatric epilepsy disorders.
- Containing equal amounts of CBD and THC, Sativex has been approved in several countries, including the U.K., as a treatment for MS-related spasticity. It has not been approved in the U.S.
- The drug is typically administered via an oral spray.
- Earlier this year, Jazz Pharmaceuticals acquired GW for $7.2B.
Financial backer The Brain Tumour Charity will recruit 232 patients for the three-year study.
- Success will largely be measured by whether the treatment helps patients live longer and enjoy better quality of life.
Whatever happens, the implications of weed curing any form of cancer are fun to contemplate.