Doctors weigh in on effectiveness of medipot

January 14, 2006

Penne Usher, Auburn Journal (CA)

Medical marijuana activist Steve Kubby contends if he is returned to the United States and not allowed to smoke marijuana daily he will die, but doctors differ on whether all the pot Kubby smokes is really good for his health.

Kubby's Canadian doctor said the one-time California gubernatorial candidate smokes cannabis to alleviate symptoms of his adrenal cancer.

"(Kubby's) kind of cancer, metastatic pheochromocytoma, releases adrenaline into the blood and these drugs speed up your heart making your body run faster," said Dr. Joe Connors, a medical oncologist for British Columbia Cancer Agency in a telephone interview Thursday. "His tumors make excessive amounts of these substances."

Connors said that too much adrenaline keeps Kubby's body in a constant state of "flight or fight."

"He found that smoking marijuana (helps)," Connors said. "(Without it) the stress to his cardiovascular system could result in stroke, a heart attack or even death."

Dr. Fred Meyers, professor and chair of the Department of Internal Medicine for UC Davis Medical Center, said Thursday that metastatic pheochromocytoma is a "very rare" type of cancer.

He said that the cancer is usually associated with benign tumors and rarely becomes cancerous. Additionally, there are no effective anti-cancer drugs. Metastatic pheochromocytoma is in many situations considered incurable, he said.

Meyers said there is no medical proof that smoking marijuana cures or alleviates the symptoms of the adrenal cancer that Kubby is said to have.

"I haven't examined him, but I don't believe marijuana blocks the effects of the cancer," Meyers said. "People do die of cancer. (Kubby) could die if either the cancer spreads or the epinephrine (similar to adrenaline) will be made is such large amount that he'll die."

In an ironic twist, Kubby was once roommates with one of the 1970s pop culture marijuana icons, Cheech Marin.

Decades ago, Kubby said he was pretty straight and hanging out with Marin while the two attended Cal State Northridge.

"Cheech came to visit me when I learned I had as little as six months to live," Kubby said. "I smoked pot with him and to my complete astonishment my symptoms were gone for a day or two. It brought my blood pressure down. It was unbelievable to me."

Dr. Meyers disagrees with the medical marijuana miracle.

"Marijuana does not keep the blood pressure down," he said.

As the Kubby family fights to stay in Canada, Kubby said he will continue to grow and smoke the marijuana he contends he needs to stay alive.

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