In February 2000 researchers in Madrid announced they had destroyed incurable brain tumors in rats by injecting them with THC, the active ingredient in cannabis. The study was later published in the journal Nature Cancer Review. Chances are that you have never heard of this study, the same as you likely never heard of a previous similar study. There has been a virtual news blackout as well as a concerted government effort to suppress such stories and studies for over thirty years.
The study by Manuel Guzman of Madrid Spain found that cannabinoids, the active components of marijuana, inhibited tumor growth in laboratory animals by modulating key cell-signaling pathways and thus causing direct growth arrest and death of tumor cells. The study also found that cannabinoids inhibited angiogenesis and that cannabinoids were usually well tolerated and did not produce the generalized toxic effects of conventional chemotherapies.
According to neurologist Dr. Ethan Russo, the Guzman study was very important because cancer cells become immortalized and fail to heed normal signals to turn off growth and die on cue. In addition, the other way that tumors grow is by sending out signals to promote angiogenesis, the growth of new blood vessels. Cannabinoids turn off these signals as well.
Normally, any story that even suggests the possibility of a new treatment for cancer is greeted with headlines about a “cancer cure” – however remote or improbable it might be. However, if marijuana is involved, don’t expect any coverage from mainstream media.
News coverage of the Madrid discovery has been virtually nonexistent in this country. The news broke quietly on Feb. 29, 2000 with a story that ran once on the UPI wire about the Nature Medicine article. The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times all ignored the story, even though its newsworthiness would seem indisputable: a benign substance occurring in nature destroys deadly brain tumors.
The previous study which indicated that marijuana could be effective against cancer was conducted in 1974. In that study, researchers at the Medical College of Virginia, who had been funded by the National Institutes of Health to find evidence that marijuana damages the immune system, found instead that THC slowed the growth of three kinds of cancer in mice – lung and breast cancer, and virus-induced leukemia.
The DEA quickly shut down the Virginia study and all further cannabis/tumor research, according to Jack Herer, who reported on the events in his book, “The Emperor Wears No Clothes”. In 1976, President Gerald Ford ended all public research on cannabis and granted exclusive research rights to major pharmaceutical companies, who unsuccessfully attempted to develop synthetic forms of THC that would deliver the medical benefits without the “high.”
In 1983, the Reagan/Bush Administration attempted to persuade American universities and researchers to destroy all 1966-76 cannabis research work, including compendiums in libraries, reported Herer. He stated, “We know that large amounts of information have since disappeared.”
On March 29, 2001, the San Antonio Current printed a story by Raymond Cushing titled, “POT SHRINKS TUMORS; GOVERNMENT KNEW IN ’74” which detailed government and media suppression of news about marijuana cancer benefits. Cushing noted in his article that it was hard to believe that the knowledge that cannabis can be used to fight cancer has been suppressed for almost thirty years and aptly concluded his article by saying:
“Millions of people have died horrible deaths and in many cases, families exhausted their savings on dangerous, toxic and expensive drugs. Now we are just beginning to realize that while marijuana has never killed anyone, marijuana prohibition has killed millions.”