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U.S. Government to Fund Cannabis Research for Cancer

Ed Knight

By Ed Knight

May 10, 2022

Gloved hands are holding a medical device at the National Cancer Institute

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The nation’s leading biomedical research agency

last week potential funding for studies that examine the role of cannabis treatment for

In a

issued on Thursday, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) said that it is promoting “research in understanding the mechanisms by which cannabis and cannabinoids affect cancer biology, cancer interception, cancer treatment and resistance, and management of cancer symptoms.”

The NIH highlighted the recent surge of cannabis consumption in the U.S. as a catalyst for this decision. “The use of cannabis and cannabinoids for medical and recreational purposes has increased dramatically over the past decade. A 2019 survey estimated that 48 million United States (US) individuals aged 12 years or older had used cannabis in the past year, an increase of 87% from a 2002 survey,” the agency

in the notice.

“Within the U.S., many states have permitted the use of cannabis products, but state policies vary widely regarding the types of products allowed and for what purpose they may be used. Concurrently, the delivery methods of cannabis have diversified and now include edibles, oils, tinctures, topicals and inhaled forms,” the NIH stated.

The agency

how the influx of cannabis use and access could potentially harm cancer patients if reliable data isn’t available. “Cancer patients use cannabis and cannabinoids to manage symptoms of cancer and cancer treatment including anorexia, nausea, and pain. Recent survey evidence suggests that a quarter of cancer patients have used cannabis for symptom management. Despite the increase in cannabis and cannabinoid use, research about their health effects, including potential harms and benefits, remain limited.”

The symbolism of the United States’ top medical research agency promoting research that looks into the potential medicinal value of cannabis is significant, given the federal government’s long standing prohibition on pot. 

A patient relieves cancer treatment at the National Cancer Institute
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Democrats in Congress have signaled their intentions to pass a cannabis legalization bill in the current session. In April, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, which would remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act. 

Democrats in the Senate have said they intend to produce their own cannabis legalization bill at some point before the Congressional recess in August. 

Future of Federal Cannabis Research for Cancer

That federal ban has led to a dearth of credible research on cannabis. In the notice issued on Thursday, the NIH said that “epidemiological studies of cannabis use and cancer risk have yielded limited and inconsistent results.

“While cannabis smoke generates many of the same carcinogens as tobacco, studies to date have not shown a link between cannabis smoking and lung cancer risk. There is some evidence suggesting a link of cannabis smoking to increased risk of testicular cancer. However, studies of other cancer types have shown no or inconsistent association with cannabis use, but these data are limited,” the notice said.

The agency explained that the purpose of the notice was to “[invite] research applications that examine the mechanistic actions of cannabis and cannabinoids in cancer biology, cancer interception, cancer treatment and resistance, and management of cancer symptoms,” adding that the “relevant forms of cannabinoids for study include both exogenous cannabis, cannabis-derived products or extracts, purified or synthetic cannabinoids, and endogenous cannabinoids.”

, the areas of interest for research are vast. Some examples of what the agency is looking to uncover include, “Understanding how exogenous cannabis and cannabinoids affect cancer development (preneoplasia through malignancy) and biology, including the tumor microenvironment; Understanding how endogenous cannabinoid pathways influence cancer development and biology; Defining the effects of cannabis and cannabinoids on cancer treatment (particularly targeted treatments and immunotherapy) and the development of treatment resistance.” Check out the notice to read all the areas of research interest.

Ed Knight

About The Author

Ed Knight

HIGH THERE MISSION

WE’RE A CREATIVE COMMUNITY — EXPLORING THE SCIENCE, CRAFT, AND CULTURE OF CANNABIS.
WE BELIEVE THAT WE HAVE A COLLECTIVE RESPONSIBILITY TOWARDS ERADICATING THE STIGMA, MISINFORMATION, AND INEQUITIES SURROUNDING THIS PLANT, SO WE CAN UNLOCK ITS TRUE POTENTIAL FOR ALL.