Under federal law, it is illegal to possess marijuana in the U.S., unless it is used in approved research environments. However, a number of states have passed laws to legalize marijuana.
Marijuana contains cannabinoids which cause drug-like effects in the body, including to the central nervous system and the immune system.
The main psychoactive cannabinoid in Cannabis is delta-9-THC, while another active cannabinoid, cannabidiol or as many people know it, CBD, may alleviate pain and lower inflammation without causing the ‘high’ feeling of delta-9-THC.
The website of The National Cancer Institute, which is part of the US Department of Health, says that ‘cannabinoids may be useful in treating the side effects of cancer and cancer treatment’.
The website also mentions that no ongoing studies of marijuana as a specific treatment for cancer have been found in the CAM on PubMed database. Small studies have been carried out, but the results either have not been published or need a larger study.
Cannabis and cannabinoids have been studied in the past, as ways to manage side effects of cancer and cancer treatment side effects including pain, nausea, appetite loss, as well as anxiety, and pain.
The National Cancer Institute suggests that laboratory and animal studies have shown that cannabinoids may be able to kill cancer cells while protecting normal cells. They may inhibit tumor growth by causing cell death, inhibiting cell growth, and blocking the development of blood vessels needed by tumors to grow.
However, researchers did add that there is lack of evidence that advocates for patients to ingest marijuana as a treatment for cancer symptoms or side effects of chemotherapy.
Cannabis has been used commonly by patients diseased with some type of cancer as a way to alleviate pain in many US states where it is legal for medicinal use.