In their April 2015 publication, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reported that marijuana can kill certain cancer cells. The National Institute on Drug Abuse is a government funded research institution and their April 2015 publication was revised to say the following:
“Recent animal studies have shown that marijuana can kill certain cancer cells and reduce the size of others. Evidence from one animal study suggests that extracts from whole-plant marijuana can shrink one of the most serious types of brain tumors. Research in mice showed that these extracts, when used with radiation, increased the cancer-killing effects of the radiation.”
Increased support for bipartisan bill submitted in the Senate
This admission comes less than a month after a bipartisan bill was submitted in the Senate by Republican Rand Paul (Ky.), Democrats Cory Booker (N.J.), and Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.). The bill would effectively end the federal ban on medical marijuana and implement a series of reforms. Some of the provisions in the bill include:
- Marijuana would be reclassified as a Schedule II substance under the Drug Enforcement Agency’s five-category drug classification system. Marijuana is currently labeled as a schedule I substance along with heroin, LSD, and ecstasy.
- The proposed legislation would ease restrictions on the interstate transport of CBD medicines so patients will be able to access such medication.
- The bill would make it easier for banks to provide services to the marijuana industry.
- It would broaden access to cannabis for research purposes by revising the NIDA’s policies to permit research into the medical benefits of marijuana.
- Doctors who work for the Department of Veterans Affairs would be allowed to recommend medical marijuana to patients suffering from certain conditions in states where medical marijuana is legal.
United States Surgeon General thinks marijuana can be helpful
This past February, 37-year-old U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy appeared on “CBS This Morning” and said, “We have some preliminary data showing that for certain medical conditions and symptoms, marijuana can be helpful.” The Surgeon General then added, “I think that we have to use that data to drive policymaking.”
The comments made by Surgeon General Murthy should be considered in the debate on the drug’s status under federal law as a Schedule I controlled substance. That category puts marijuana in a class that includes heroin and LSD and is reserved only for drugs that have no accepted medical value.
Dr. Murthy is not the first Surgeon General to debate marijuana’s classification and the overall United States drug policy. In 1993, Joycelyn Elders, the Surgeon General under President Clinton, said the U.S. should seriously consider legalizing drugs. “I do feel we’d markedly reduce our crime rate if drugs were legalized,” she said at the time. Dr. Murthy’s statements, however, have come at a time when medical marijuana is a hot topic in the United States.
President Barack Obama recently stated that the divide between Republicans and Democrats on marijuana politics is narrowing. He went on to say that he is encouraged by recent developments because liberal Democrats are no longer the only supporters of legal marijuana: conservative Republicans have come on board too. He is optimistic that we will soon see marijuana reclassified to a less restrictive Schedule.
This admission by the National Institute on Drug Abuse comes at a crucial time for legal medical marijuana. The institute’s admission, and the opinion of the United States Surgeon General should promote increased support in the Unites States Senate.