New Study Finds Marijuana Compound Inhibits Breast Cancer Growth

November 19, 2007

San Francisco, CA -- A new study announced today by the California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute (CPMCRI) found that a non-psychoactive, naturally occurring compound in the cannabis plant (marijuana) called cannabidiol (CBD) inhibits the activity of breast cancer cells “in vitro” and in animals.

While previous studies have found that tetrahydrocannabinol, another cannabis compound known as THC, has properties found to inhibit cancer growth, the CPMCRI study is the first time that CBD has been shown to have a similar effect. According to CPMCRI, the study was accepted for publication in October.

“This pre-clinical research clearly demonstrates the therapeutic potential of marijuana’s active compounds,” said CPMCRI cannabinoid researcher Jahan Marcu, who is also on the Medical & Scientific Advisory Board of Americans for Safe Access (ASA). “The availability of a non-toxic substance that has the potential to fight breast cancer and likely other forms of cancer is of tremendous importance.”

Despite mounting evidence verifying the medical efficacy of smoked marijuana and it’s isolated compounds, the federal government continues to obstruct scientific research in this field. In the last 20 years, the FDA has approved only three studies using plant-derived marijuana or its constituent compounds, forcing researchers such as CPMCRI to use synthetic versions. One reason for a lack of U.S. research using naturally derived marijuana is that scientists must obtain it from the National Institute for Drug Abuse (NIDA), which has a stated disinterest in the investigation of marijuana’s therapeutic qualities.

“It’s time for NIDA and the federal government to end the monopoly on research cannabis,” said Caren Woodson, Director of Government Affairs for ASA. “This study should compel our government to do everything in its power to conduct the long-overdue research recommended by the 1999 Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine report.” The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), which works with NIDA to restrict the availability of research cannabis, is currently refusing to license University of Massachusetts Amherst Professor Lyle Craker, despite a ruling earlier this year from Administrative Law Judge Mary Ellen Bittner that stated such research was “in the public interest.”

The CBD compound used by CPMCRI for the study was synthetic due to the complications of obtaining research cannabis. However, compounds extracted from the marijuana plant are far cheaper and would be easier to acquire for the purpose of research if a competitive source of research grade marijuana were available.  Coincidentally, the DEA is recommending that the natural form of THC be rescheduled under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) so that the plant derived compound may be naturally extracted in order to facilitate the research and development of generic, natural THC-based therapeutic drugs.  “This study provides clear evidence which suggests that DEA ought to further consider rescheduling other cannabinoids with clear medical benefit in order to jump-start the research and development of cannabis-based drugs so patients have access to these drugs sooner as opposed to later,” continued Woodson.

Further information:
CPMCRI Study and Researcher Dr. Sean McAllister – http://www.cpmc.org/professionals/research/programs/science/sean.html
Additional cannabis research – http://www.cannabis-med.org/studies/study.php
2007 Ruling by ALJ Bittner, claiming marijuana research is “in the public interest” – http://www.maps.org/ALJfindings.PDF
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