Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Writing On The Wall

Just last week the National Institute on Drug Abuse (i.e., the federal government) published an RFP. That’s a “request for proposals” to you and me. Nothing unusual about that, as the government is always soliciting proposals for grants and government contracts. But what is unusual is the nature of this particular contract. Perhaps the title of the RFP will give you an idea of what I mean: Production, Analysis, & Distribution of Cannabis & Marijuana Cigarettes. Yes, that’s right. The federal government is looking for someone to grow marijuana for them.

But what, you might ask, about the University of Mississippi? Haven’t they been the sole supplier of all legal medical and research marijuana in this country for the past 40 years? And wasn’t it just a few short months ago that this very same federal government, after a protracted legal battle, declined a legitimate application from the University of Massachusetts to produce marijuana and other Schedule I drugs for research? And wasn’t it the DEA who, in spite of support from a number of Congressmen and a favorable ruling from their very own DEA Administrative Law Judge, ruled that ending the government’s sole-source monopoly on marijuana would lead to increased illicit use? And besides, claimed the DEA, the University of Mississippi provides all the (low-grade) marijuana that researchers in this country could ever want.

So what’s happened in the past 7 months to change things? Well, for starters, just a few days after the DEA’s decision was handed down, a new president was sworn in. But neither he nor his new attorney general reversed or overruled the DEA’s decision. I think it’s something bigger than just a new administration, although that certainly has a lot to do with it.

I think the people in our government are finally starting to see the writing on the wall. In the past few years a number of legitimate scientific papers have been published on the medical benefits of the various compounds found in marijuana. The science is getting pretty hard to deny, even for hard-core drug warriors. But helping cancer patients alleviate their nausea or stimulate their appetites is not enough to change these people’s minds. Not when there are plenty of other expensive alternatives provided by the pharmaceutical industry. What is starting to get their attention is the research focused on cannabis compounds as a cure for cancer. That’s right, a cure for cancer.

You see, I believe that within the next 5-10 years a real cure for cancer will be found. By “real” I mean one that doesn’t practically kill the patient to rid them of cancer. And I believe that cure will be based on compounds derived from marijuana. More importantly, that cure will come from somewhere other than the good ol’ U.S. of A. How embarrassed will we be when the world learns that we had a cure for cancer right under our very noses all this time while we did our best to prevent anyone from discovering it. Boy, will our government’s face be red. What are they going to say? Sorry? Our bad?

It’s true you know, CBD and other cannabinoids (the active compounds in marijuana) have been shown to kill cancer cells while leaving healthy cells unharmed. Unlike current chemotherapy alternatives, which kill all cells indiscriminately, the only side effect of CBD treatment is a relaxed feeling. And here’s the kicker: almost all of this research is being done somewhere else. It’s yet one more area where our country is falling behind the rest of the world, medicine. How embarrassing indeed.

So I believe that not wanting to look stupid in the eyes of the world just may be responsible for the changing attitude of our government with respect to medical marijuana research. Not that looking stupid has ever stopped us before. But this is different. In most cases, like wars, right or wrong can be pretty subjective. But when it comes to suppressing research that might lead to a cure for cancer, there’s no two ways about it. That’s a bad thing. Oh well, at least it will give all those government propagandists something to do—spin it so it looks like our war on drugs really was a good thing, and show how smart we were by putting an end to it.

FYI, here are a few studies that have come out in the past few years that show promising results with respect to using cannabinoid compounds to treat cancer. Notice where most of this research has been done?

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