Although members of the cannabis community are sometimes quick to criticize the inner workings of the major pharmaceutical companies, the pill pushing industry is on the verge of showing the federal government that marijuana is an effective treatment for cancer.
Earlier this week, British drug company GW Pharmaceuticals announced that an experimental cannabis-based medication they have been testing for the past few years has been shown effective in diminishing the mortality rate of people suffering from a brain cancer. This type of cancer (glioblastoma multiforme), which has symptoms ranging from headaches to personality changes, typically kills its victims in about two years. But GW Pharma says their drug has given test subjects more life.
"We believe that the signals of efficacy demonstrated in this study further reinforce the potential role of cannabinoids in the field of oncology and provide GW with the prospect of a new and distinct cannabinoid product candidate in the treatment of glioma," GW Pharma CEO Justin Gover said in a statement.
However, the results of this particular study cannot be solely attributed to the introduction of cannabinoids quite yet. During the most recent trial phase, patients were given GW’s concoction of THC and CBD, the two primary compounds of the cannabis plant, in conjunction with an oral chemotherapy drug called Temozolomide.
But those patients who received this treatment cocktail displayed an 83 percent one-year survival rate, as opposed to the 53 percent experienced in patients given the placebo.
At a time when research over the medicinal benefits of marijuana has been greatly hindered by the DEA’s Schedule I classification, you could say Big Pharma is on track to bringing the scientific evidence surrounding the efficacy of cannabis treatments to the mainstream.
In addition to this cancer-fighting drug, GW is also about to release a first-of-a-kind cannabis spray (Epidiolex) for people suffering from epilepsy.
Once these medications are brought to market, patients will have the opportunity access “prescription” cannabis, which would likely be covered under most health insurance plans, rather than leaning on their state medical marijuana program – if that is even an option.
But many marijuana purists say they would rather have raw flower than any product manufactured by the pharmaceutical trade.
Still, the main takeaway in this report is that cannabis is being shown effective in the treatment of cancer and epilepsy. Hopefully, the results of these trials will eventually prompt our national lawmakers to unchain the herb from the restrictions of federal law.