Marijuana has long been used to treat cancer cells and when Ms Patsy (not her real name) was diagnosed with inoperable cervical cancer she decided to take some advice and treat the cancer with marijuana.
After buying a few ounces of the herb, Patsy soaked the marijuana buds in alcohol and boiled it for 20 minutes in a rice cooker. Daily doses, she believes caused her cancer to go into remission.
In an interview yesterday a senior pharmacologist said because marijuana is still illegal, many people who use the herb for medicinal purposes successfully do so secretly without advertising it.
She said research has shown that marijuana extracts kills cancer cells.
"It can also be used to treat a range of illnesses including Parkingson disease, multiple sclerosis, arthritis, epilepsy, glaucoma, HIV, chronic pain and Alzheimer's disease but there is a stigma to it," the source said, adding that a statement by Health Minister Dr Terrence Deyalsingh not to endorse medicinal marijuana was "close-minded."
"Marijuana could help so much people. Apart from stemming the growth of tumours, it can also fight pain-causing inflammation."
Pharmacist at Valini's Drugmart Sarah Balkaran said she supported a call by Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar to have a referendum on the legalization of medicinal marijuana.
"People who suffer with chronic ailments can use it. Lots of research has been done about it and it is something that we could explore," Balkaran said.
However, she said there was a risk of marijuana abuse if it is legalized.
"I am concerned that doctors will be able to prescribe it to anyone and people could easily misuse it for other reasons apart from medicinal purposes," Balkaran added.
Nazma Muller who has been petitioning for the legalization of marijuana through her group T&T advocacy group the Caribbean Collective for Justice (CCJ) said a referendum made no sense as the laws existed allowing the Minister to issue licenses for the sale and distribution of cannabis.
"The Minister says he is not endorsing it. Has he done his research? Just Google cannabis and you will find articles on the therapeutic benefits. The Cannabis regulates all kinds of disease. Dr. Raphael Mechoulam is the world's foremost cannabis researcher and he says there is a strain of cannabis that can cure any disease known to mankind. The World Health Organisation has looked to change the categorization of cannabis. Research is going on right now at the UWI about the health benefits of cannabis," Muller said.
She said that there was a reluctance to legalize marijuana because multinational corporations which rake in billions on man-made drugs will lose if medicinal marijuana was legalized.
Deyalsingh said under the Dangerous Drugs Act or Food and Drug Act, anybody can make any application to bring in any drug. It is then adjudicated upon by the Drug Advisory Committee, who then advises the Minister of Health.
What the law says
Under Section 4 of the Dangerous Drugs Act the Health Minister may, subject to regulations made under Section 57, "issue licenses for the import, export, diversion, sale, manufacture, production or distribution, at a stated place, of any dangerous drug" or "issue licenses for the cultivation, gathering or production, at a stated place, of opium poppy, marijuana, or coca plant".
Under Section 57 (b) of the Act the Health Minister may make regulations “for the use, purchase, sale or possession of any dangerous drugs for medicinal or scientific purposes”.
More on marijuana
Marijuana has over 100 cannabinoids. Currently, the two main cannabinoids from the marijuana plant that are of medical interest which are marijuana chemical cannabidiol (CBD) and Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), marijuana’s main mind-altering ingredient that makes people "high."
Spanish microbiologist Dr Christine Sanchez discovered the antitumor effects of marijuana. She wrote, "Cannabidiol, or CBD, which does not have a psychoactive effect, has long been known as a potent anti-cancer agent because of its ability to interfere with cellular communication in tumors as well as in its ability to instigate apoptosis (programmed cancer cell death).
Studies have also been conducted on the combined effect of CBD and THC on lung, prostate, colon, pancreatic, liver, bladder, cervical, blood-based, brain, and other forms of cancer. These studies lend increasing evidence to the fact that cannabinoids are not only antioxidant phytonutrients but powerful “herbal chemo” agents."
Source: www.guardian.co.tt (Radhica De Silva)