Spend a few minutes surfing Twitter and you’re likely to encounter a startling claim that comes without proof:

Cannabis cures cancer.

The online world is awash with such posts, startling scientists and physicians who are urging marijuana proselytizers to hit the brakes.

“We know that a component in cannabis — CBD — might be useful in treating cancer,” said Dr. Joseph A. Califano III, director of the Head and Neck Cancer Center at the University of California, San Diego. “But we don’t know if marijuana can stop or cure it. In some cases, cannabis might make things worse. It’s going to take time to find out.

“What’s happening right now with marijuana reminds me of tobacco at the end of World War II. There was an explosion in its use, but little science to let people know what we were dealing with.”

The admonition appears to be falling on deaf ears.

Marijuana is increasingly described online as a magical elixir, not only for cancer, but also for virtually every disease. The claims are often unattributed and are rarely tied in a substantive way to mainstream science. And they aren’t likely to fade.

Six months ago, it became legal in California to sell recreational marijuana in licensed shops. Customers have been lining up, and many turn to the store’s “bud tenders” to tell them which strain of weed can alleviate their aches and pains or help them to sleep.

Most bud tenders have no formal training in medicine or science.

Zach Lazarus recognizes the potential for abuse and works to avoid it.

“Our employees are not licensed physicians, nor do they pretend otherwise,” said Lazarus, co-founder of A Green Alternative, a marijuana store in Otay Mesa.

“They just help facilitate the sale of marijuana. The consumer uses his own discretion, and hopefully advice from his physician, if he needs it.”

Even if consumers turn to experts for advice, the matter may be confusing. That’s led to many questions:

–– One of the most shared marijuana claims on Twitter says, “Cannabis cures 7 out of 10 cancer patients.” If that’s untrue, why are people allowed to say it?

The claim is untrue, and there are lots of reasons it gets out there, beginning with the First Amendment. There are few restrictions on what you can say or publish. And when a comment like that is posted online it can be difficult — maybe even impossible — to rein it in. Some such posts are shared by bots, rather than humans, speeding their distribution. Scurrilous posts can go viral in a snap.

It also appears that a lot of people simply want such comments to be true. That’s understandable, to a degree. About 610,000 people will die of cancer in the U.S. this year. People are desperate for good news.

The reality is that good news is hard to come by. There’s a website that says, “There are now 100 scientific studies that prove cannabis cures cancer.” The site links to scientific papers that focus on specific experiments. The papers do not provide clear, replicable evidence that marijuana can cure any form of cancer.


Many of the papers talk about experiments that were done on mice, which are used as a proxy for humans. As NPR noted in a story last year, “Mice aren’t simply furry little people.” Drugs and therapies that work on mice often don’t work on people. That’s why so many drug trials end in failure.


–– Why is little known about whether marijuana is good or bad for your health?

The recreational use of marijuana dates back only about a century in the U.S. For a variety of reasons, the drug became associated with violence. It was soon banned in much of the country and drug laws became progressively tougher, pushing it further into the background.

Lots of people used marijuana during the counterculture movement. But that did not lead to widespread and well-funded studies that examined how cannabis affects human health. In fact, marijuana was classified as a Schedule 1 drug in the early 1970s as part of President Richard Nixon’s so-called War on Drugs.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration says such drugs have “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. Some examples of other Schedule I drugs are heroin, LSD, methaqualone and peyote.”

The classification is opposed by much of the nation’s medical and scientific communities. But it’s still in place, which means it’s hard for science to obtain federally approved marijuana, and funding, to conduct research.

Joy Phillips, a biomedical researcher at San Diego State University, has received federal permission to conduct research on CBDs. But she doesn’t have large grants to pay for it, forcing her to consider online crowdfunding.

–– Does this mean that scientists know basically nothing about the health implications of using marijuana?

No. There is evidence that cannabis can — to differing degrees — be used to treat a variety of medical problems, such as back pain, seizures and the nausea associated with chemotherapy.

But the breadth and depth of the research isn’t wide or deep. That problem was explained by the National Academics of Science, Engineering and Medicine, which released an overview of the health affects of cannabis and cannabinoids in January 2017.

The report noted that there were problems with many of the studies it examined, and that many health issues had been barely addressed. As a result, the report lacked specificity when it talked about such things as using marijuana to treat such conditions as multiple sclerosis, Tourette syndrome and heart disease.

The report’s main decision came down to this: Scientists need more money and reasonable access to federally approved cannabis to rectify the situation.


(Danielle Hernandez and Emma Rooholfada contributed to this report.)


©2018 The San Diego Union-Tribune

Visit The San Diego Union-Tribune at www.sandiegouniontribune.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


PHOTO (for help with images, contact 312-222-4194): MED-MARIJUANA

Copyright 2018 Tribune Content Agency.

(22) comments


It does cure!

Boogerface Nutter

And one more thing. Years ago, a good friend had back surgery and developed Parkinson's-like symptoms after Hands shook very badly.
One day, at a music festival, he had a cookie that a friend had made, one with marijuana in it. A while later, his wife noticed he was no longer shaking. The only thing they could attribute it to was the cookie. They got a prescription for a dispensary and would get pot there, put it in water and boil it into a dark liquid. A few drops in his coffee a couple times each day and no shaking.
Their doctor, on hearing this, prescribed Marinol, which is a prescription drug supposed to be synthetic marijuana. It had no effect at all.
Results are results.


Really even the most ridiculous claims aren't mucgh different than the claims of many "legitimate" drugs. It's about selling product, which company selling something doesn't make snake oil claims?
The fact of the matter is cannabis has been shown to have some beneficial properties. Comparing the research of it to post WWII tobacco studies is ridiculous too. There has been studies of marijuana, not to the extent of tobacvo, but certainly moreally than tobacco in 1947.
Just because outrageous claims are made, doesn't prove it has no medicinal value, and even if it had zero value to your health, it is far less harmful than tobacco or alcohol. There is virtually NO debate about that.

Boogerface Nutter

Plus, we have an Attorney General who must see black jazz musicians smoking "Reefer" whenever he hears the word marijuana.
The fact that CBD oil is an extract of marijuana and hemp and has no narcotic effects would elude that junior-genius


I read this article hoping for some further education on the subject but found it contained less than I already knew. Can anyone tell me why the U.S. Government took out two patents for using Cannabinoids for medical purposes if there is no documented benefits? US PATENT No. 6630507 Cannabinoids and US PATENT No. 4189491 entitled “Tetrahydrocannabinal in a Method of Treating Glaucoma,” can be found on the U.S. Patent Office web site.

The ban on all Hemp products, THC and non-THC, is so thorough that U.S. Senator Rand Paul from Kentucky has been unable for years to get approval for growing non-THC Hemp for making rope, clothing or other useful products even when tobacco farmers were looking for an alternative crop replacement.

For the record, I have never used any illegal drugs in my entire 70+ years but several friends around the world are praising the use of CBD, Hemp Oil and Marijuana and I have begun my own research. I am not a conspiracy nut but there is a growing suspicion that the pharmaceutical companies are behind the effort to keeping the ban on laboratory research that would financially impact the drug industry.

Boogerface Nutter

My friend in Freeport, CA, developed Parkinson-like symptoms after back surgery. Hands shook very badly. He could no longer play guitar (he's a great guitar player) and holding a glass with liquid was recipe for disaster.
He had a cookie at a friend's camp at a music festival we were attending. A couple hours later, his wife noticed that he was no longer shaking. The only thing he could attribute it to was that the cookie was made with marijuana. After that, they had a prescription and got pot from a dispensary, boiled it down to a dark liquid and a few drops in a cup of coffee a couple times per day solved the shaking. Their doctor prescribed Marinol the pharmaceutical version of marijuana, which did nothing for hit shaking.
Say what you will but this stuff works for some things.


If the Feds would re-classify it as a schedule 2 or 3 drug universities and scientists could actually do research on it and find out. As it stands with it being a class 1 drug it is VERY difficult to get permission to do any research on it at all in the US


I fully agree, the "bud" tenders have no formal education, because none is available. But I will bet the farm these people know more about the different varieties than the author of this article. Came home from the army in 1969 by 1971 I had taken acid. By 1972, I was a pot head. This makes it 46 years I have been smoking pot, I very good guess, puts my daily use at approximately 42 years I have been "stoned" all those years. I was a single dad, she left when the kids were 3-5. I had 2 back operations, I worked my own business to make sure my kids had what they needed, they did not go without anything! ( except a POS mom). I have learned over the years, all about pot. I quit school at 16, enlisted at 17. My 'neighbor" went to college, to avoid the draft. Hid behind political influence. I got my education in life. He got his in a book. Who? is smarter? Who of the two of us has more sense? He may have money, but, I have my humility. This, I have come to see is a result of common sense and my use of weed, that made me CALM. Gave me the ability to think before acting. Where does one go to get education on pot anyway? The same place I went, the school of life, or, experience university. Bill-(not real name) inherited some wealth. He is prejudice, two faced, very unethical, and even showed me one day. You see, I gained a trick, I learned how to manipulate people, and I have success 80% of the time. I play him like a violin, with his $h*t eating grin, that gives it away every time! This my friends believe it or not, is a direct result of 46 years of being a stoner. It gave me sight, that was not there before. At first, it scared me , until I learned control, the right strain of bud, and patience- my ex taught me also with emotional torture and pain. But, you learn, or you flip out. I learned. Don't win them all, but, most I do with self control!! Thank You! Mr MJ!!


So smoking cannabis probably does nothing to fight cancer but there is a guy named Rick Simpson who figured out that a very strong decoction does seem to work. The Canadian RMCP arrested him and tried to stop his good works. He didn't charge anything for the compound yet they were desperate to stop him. Does anyone truly think that the cancer industry that likely makes billions upon billions of dollars a year want a cure for cancer? Duh do the math. Do you think the oil industry wants cars that run for thousands of miles on a tank of gas? Bottom line is that special interests keep cannabis illegal. Propaganda by William Randolph Hurst started it and kept it that way. You cannot claim to cure anything without a stamp of approval by the MDA. An organization that discourages innovation and alternative therapies by their own doctors. Lose your medical license if you step incorrectly. The system is essentially a racket bought and paid for by our elected officials. Hopefully the tide will turn some day. Like the man said...it is impossible to stop an idea whose time has come. Truth is treason in an empire of lies. If you want to know more about Rick Simpson I would suggest looking for a video called "Run from the Cure".


The best you can do is an article 11/2 years old that casts doubt on CBD. C'mon who is paying you? The drug industry? The medical industry? Trumps minions? Add CBD to Focused Ultra Sound and you can bet the medical industry will do all they can through useful idiots like trump to keep it away from the public.


Whether or not it has health benefits is irrelevant. McDonald's french fries don't have health benefits, but that doesn't justify making french fries illegal and criminalizing anyone who eats them. Science has proven that alcohol is far more dangerous than marijuana. It makes zero sense to continue wasting $ & resources on enforcing laws against it. It makes lots of sense to legalize it, regulate it and tax it. It has been immensely successful in the states that have legalized it. Once the old generation of reefer madness, superstition & anti-science loses their stronghold on legislation, common sense will eventually prevail.


Funny how the article wants to bash that there isn't a ton of science to it yet. If the Federal government wanted to have any credibility with the everyday person, marijuana would not be a schedule 1 narcotic. Really, do you think we are dumb enough to believe it is addictive and as dangerous as heroin, methamphetamine, FENTANYL? really? We've been spoon fed lies and propaganda for decades about how dangerous dope is but yet alcohol is still legal and breaks up more families in a multitude of ways than pot could ever. END THE ILLEGALITY OF POT SO ITS BENEFITS CAN ACTUALLY BE RESEARCHED.


Fear mongering by a news org pumping the .gov lines of bull....we've had enough of the lies and bs, jailing citizens for decades and violent over the top policing. END the war on drugs.


The amount of naivete' on this page about CBD oil is unbelievable. This article is just another way to keep the public in the Medical Industry loop. No way but organized Western medicine that keeps everyone ball and chained to their toxic meds.

Boogerface Nutter

Well, here's something. My nephew in Bakersfield has a particularly aggressive brain tumor. He spent months in the hospital and had several surgeries to get as much as possible. When released to go home and be cared for there, he could not swallow or walk. The tumor affected motor functions.
The doctor, on his release, said he had weeks, not months to live.
A friend had brought some CBD hemp oil (not marijuana oil) and we were giving him a dose twice per day. I stayed with my sister for 6 weeks, helping with his care (he was being fed through a tube every four hours). His condition got better and better. His strength returned. After a few weeks, he took a swallow test and was able to eat real food again.
I'd done research on CBD oil use in rats and understood that, while it didn't cure tumors, it seems to cause the blood vessels that feed them to contract, starving the tumors of blood.
Doctors to whom i took my nephew were amazed at his progress and MRI showed the tumor was not growing. He has been able to get back on his feet and back to work.
Now, you may say what you will about the efficacy of the CBD oil and it may not help everyone but I only know what I experienced personally. To deny a product that has no downside and possibly great upsides, whether derived from marijuana or hemp is just plain ludicrous.
Reggie Kenner


For the past fifty years, I have managed to survive without ever having tried marijuana. It my locale, mere posession is considered a criminal act and those who indulge are generally referred to as potheads. The medical issue defense against smoking this drug is absurd. Whatever medical benefits, if any, can be administered as a pill or in some other way. I don’t relish the thought of wading through hordes of dope-crazed zombies in what used to be a stand-up nation.


Is this the only publication you read? Pity.


Gyser - I have survived without ever getting drunk, but that doesn't give me the right to impose on someone else what they are allowed to eat and drink in the privacy of your own home. If you have ever consumed alcohol, then you have consumed something that is far more dangerous to your health and behavior than marijuana. I know plenty of people who consume marijuana who are not "dope-crazed" zombies, much like I know many people who drink wine who are not raging drunks. It sounds like you have been sheltered


I find it totally amazing that there are actually sane people who believe that smoking dope and ;clouding your brain in a fog of bliss and numbness is a way to live your life. If your life is so bad and wanting that you must smoke drugs to inspire or motivate yourself to accomplish anything you are beyond the reach and help of normal people.Not only will smoking dope destroy your bran cells and cloud you mind the smoke that you suck down your lungs will give you more forms and types of cancer and lung disease than a regular cigarette, and who want to die of lung cancer even though you are high. And the second hand smoke is worse fir you that the real stuff, just think of all these cool parents smoking their dope around their kids and messing them up, really stupid. If you cannot live or exist without the use of drugs to alter your mind and change your view of reality, you are already dead.


Interesting. You're the one who has been so easily distracted. I smoked for 30+ years and not once did I have those problems. Please expand your horizons, you feel better.


Bulldurham48 I find it totally amazing that there are sane people who would allow themselves to get obese by indulging in fried food and candy bars, but that doesn't give me the right to tell someone what they can eat or drink in the privacy of their own homes.


Legalize it. Don't criticize it. [thumbup]

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