The debate in several countries over the legalization of marijuana only serves to cloud a much more important debate: is cannabis a powerful natural plant capable of acting as a health agent that could prevent cancer? There is bountiful evidence that supports its preventative effectiveness.
Legalization of possession and use of marijuana will arrive in the near future to virtually every country that passes laws based on common sense. That, of course, will leave Canada far removed from the avant-garde as Canadians inexplicably continue to elect a Neanderthal-style government bent on passing new laws that play to the public’s irrational fears that crime is increasing and harsher penalties are the answer. But legalization is only the first step in what is really required– full-scale, properly funded, research into the use of the cannabis plant as a preventative agent against developing cancer.
Canada will no doubt be the last to grasp its own stupidity. The majority of Canadians elected the present federal government with its ‘get tough on crime agenda’; an agenda that includes minimum mandatory jail sentences for possession of cannabis. The Canadian electorate is hopelessly out of touch with the reality that crime in Canada has been decreasing for more then 23 years and more than half their fellow citizens use or have used marijuana. The get tough on crime legislation includes the senseless incarceration of Canadians for possession, sale or production of cannabis through minimum mandatory jail sentences.
Canadians appear mystifyingly unaware that the downward incidence of crime began long before the present government’s primitive notion that harsher sentences lead to less crime. Canadians are spectacularly out of touch by their support for minimum mandatory jail terms for possession of cannabis. Instead of enhancing its once admired reputation as a benevolent, tolerant society, the vast majority of Canadians have adopted the barbarous notion of becoming an increasingly intolerant society. And, as soon as the United States of America rectifies its failed policies in the same direction, as promised last week by that country’s attorney general, Canada will stand alone at the pinnacle of repression.
Until a few weeks ago the United States of America was the standard-bearer of intolerance toward its citizens. With millions of its citizens incarcerated for long prison terms on convictions for non-violent crimes such as possession of marijuana, the US has recently admitted the error of its own get tough on crime legislation that held no connection to reality. Their failed approach also cost the US billions of dollars housing non-violent US citizens. US Attorney General Eric Holder said in a speech to the American Bar Association on August 12, 2013 that:
- “too many Americans go to too many prisons for far too long and for no good law enforcement reason”
- “we cannot simply prosecute or incarcerate our way to becoming a safer nation”
- “with less than 5% of the world’s population, the United States has almost 1/4 of the world’s prisoners, approximately 2,000,000 inmates, with the rate of incarceration that’s about 6 times higher than China and a correctional tab that’s approximately $80 billion a year”
In effect, Holder was admitting that the US’s get tough on crime legislation, referred to affectionately for years as “the war on drugs”, was an abysmal failure. Holder promised that the US would abandon harsh mandatory sentences for drug offenders and that it would eschew prosecutions for non-violent, low-level criminals whose offenses previously mandated minimum jail terms.
One can only hope that Canadians will not require 20 years of a crime initiative destined to fail before throwing the ideologically-driven miscreants who have authored this right-wing initiative out of office. Legalizing marijuana is a very small step in the right direction. Statistically, far more than a mere majority of Canadians are in favor of legalization. But legalization doesn’t go nearly far enough. It only makes possible the ability to study and perfect ways to make the cannabis plant available for prevention of cancer. As long as cannabis remains a part of some misguided war on drugs it can never be seriously considered medicinally.
Some will say that our courts’ recognition of its usefulness in lessening pain for terminally ill cancer patients is a sign that Canadians are somewhat enlightened. Wrong. Allowing a few Canadians, after navigating their way through a labyrinth of useless regulations, to smoke marijuana cigarettes to ease their pain and anxiety before cancer claims their life, is not the answer. It does not even scratch the surface of what could probably be accomplished by the proper medicinal use of the cannabis plant. Serious and properly funded study of the healing properties of the cannabis plant is needed.
Because the plant grows naturally, it will not enjoy the enormous resources of the big pharmaceutical companies. In fact, whatever Big Pharma cannot patent they work sedulously to oppose. The proper study of the preventative possibilities of cannabis will be no different. Look to the pharmaceutical lobbyists to purposefully attempt to scuttle any serious effort in that direction. They are not interested in curing cancer–to do so would eliminate the need for their expensive drugs. Big Pharma has infiltrated the medical community and carefully guided it down a failed course of “treatment” that defies logic. Powerful destructive drugs classified as “chemotherapy” have proved to be a thundering disappointment. The medical community now accepts that we do not cure cancer, but instead, manage it. Big Pharma makes billions in its management.
Real change will only come when the people demand it. Politicians are unlikely to lead the charge for change as long as the pharmaceutical companies continue to control them through political donations and influential lobbyists. And, the medical community has likewise fallen into lock-step with Big Pharma, pumping out doctors who mindlessly cling to the status quo of cancer treatment despite over 4 decades of dismal failure by treating cancer by burning, cutting and poisoning. The few that dare to challenge the status quo are quickly labeled as quacks. They are ridiculed out of existence. It was approximately 42 years ago that Richard Nixon declared war on cancer. Our lack of success in treating cancer then remains the same today. Small wonder we now humbly claim only to manage, not cure.
We are not speaking here of “smoking” anything. Instead, we’re speaking of wringing from the cannabis plant what many have discovered as its apparent ability to prevent cancer. Obviously, preventing cancer is better than curing it. All of us have cancer cells. Currently, our medical community spends virtually all of its time and money on treating cancer patients and very little of its resources on prevention of cancer. For at least 4 decades the archaic approach of our medical community to “treating” cancer has been to cut burn and poison. Big Pharma is the only beneficiary of our failed attempts to treat cancer. It is in their interest, and their interest alone, to keep patients alive long enough to use their expensive but ineffective drugs. Chemotherapy kills. It does not cure.
Our medical community needs to balance its approach to cancer if it ever hopes to have any meaningful impact. The cannabis plant may hold the answer. Michael Ducharme writes:
Every cell (including cancer cells) have a cannabinoid receptor (there are two types, called CB1 or CB2). The receptor is similar to a lock that waits for a specific key. In this case the keys are cannabinoids, which are found most abundantly in the cannabis plant, and are also produced in very small numbers by the human body itself and in the cacao plant.
When these locks receive their special key, all 212 cell types are regulated. This means that if the cell is cancerous, it either becomes noncancerous or dies. the noncancerous cells are also improved, not harmed. For example, an overactive immune system (which attacks healthy cells and causes diseases including arthritis and many more) will reduce its activity to a healthy level.
Permitting consumption of cannabis is, we hope, a very small step in the direction of funding scientific research on the medical benefits that might be derived from the cannabis plant. Dr. J. Michael Bostwick has suggested:
…federal policy has failed to keep pace with recent scientific advances” including the recently-discovered endocannabinoid system, which (in an article published by the Mayo Clinic) he called “a finely tuned physiologic modulator. Michael Ducharme also writes that Dr. Bostwick noted that cannabis may have “analgesic, appetite-modulatory, immunosuppressant, antiemetic, neuroleptic, or antineoplastic effects, among other possibilities.
Consequently, what is needed is for governments everywhere to get out of the way of much-needed research on the potential preventative properties that cannabis may afford. The debate over legalization is interesting, but far less important than clearing the way to properly funded research. Until that happens governments standing in the way of research in relation to the cannabis plant will be like the crayfish, crawling backwards into the future.