ByRyan Callahan

May 29, 2014

Look, I’m a hip guy. I get that smoking a doobie before going to a Grateful Dead concert can be far out. I understand that a cat might want to unwind with a jazz cigarette after a long day. I know that the old wacky weed can make uncomfortable social situations somewhat bearable. I’ve been around the block, okay. I’m not a prude, guys. But I tend to have little tolerance for discussions about the health benefits of marijuana. “But Ryan, pot cures glaucoma.” No, it just makes you not care about it. “But Ryan, marijuana settles my stomach.” Right, so you can eat Cool Ranch Doritos and peanut butter cups. “But Ryan, when I smoke marijuana watching TV becomes a mind-altering journey into the subconscious of the gods.” Okay, you might have a point there.

And that’s pretty much the only point. I’m for the legalization of marijuana. It should be legal and available everywhere. It’s no worse than booze and not nearly as bad as cigarettes. (Trust me, I’ve done some extensive personal research.) But marijuana is a drug. People take it because it gets them high. All the arguments I have ever heard for marijuana, even all the medical arguments, boil down to that one point: Folks want to get high. That’s why they want marijuana to be legal. I’m cool with that. Just don’t pretend it’s anything else.

So that’s my line of thinking on this subject. So when one of editors told me to research a story about the cannabis curing cancer, I was obviously already biased. But I did the research. I looked around and read a few stories and heard a few personal anecdotes, and I have to admit I am intrigued. There might be something to the medicinal properties of marijuana that I never knew about.

You see, there have been a couple of studies that show a link between ingestion of concentrated THC and the reduction or elimination of tumors in lab rats. One of these studies was conducted in Madrid in 2000 and another, very similar study, was conducted by the Medical School of Virginia in 1974. The Virginia study was quickly swept under the rug by the US Government and led to the privatization of THC pharmaceutical studies.

Both of these studies present compelling evidence that high doses of concentrated THC ingested or injected into the body could be a cure for cancer. We’re not talking about smoking pot or eating a bunch of brownies. This doesn’t seem to be about getting high. This seems to be something more. I’m going to have to climb down off my high horse. Damn it. Why did I make it so tall? Who was I trying to impress?

The Madrid and Virginia studies have inspired many people on the Internet to investigate the cancer-curing properties of THC. The most popular, and according to the believers the most successful, method is to eat cannabis oil, which is extracted from the plant and filtered through grain alcohol. Thousands of people claim to be cancer-free thanks to cannabis oil.

Sure, this could be part of a massive conspiracy by the cookie dough lobby to legalize and popularize marijuana, but isn’t it worth further investigation? Right now, if you have cancer in this country, your choices are poison (chemo and radiation), mutilation (surgery) or death (death). We’re due for more options.

If cannabis oil can save at least one person, if it can help at least one person, don’t we owe to ourselves to pursue it? As long as marijuana is criminalized in this country, and treated like an evil weed that will ruin our kids, we can never have an intelligent discussion on its benefits. We spend so much time and money on dumb studies; can’t we set aside a little bit to see if cannabis oil can cure cancer? What is the downside? Who would get hurt? Only the pharmaceutical companies.

Oh, now I see why it won’t happen.

By Ryan Callahan

Ryan Callahan is a writer, director, and sandwich enthusiast. Ryan believes that taking care of the environment is important because that’s where the animals live. Animals make the best parts of the sandwich.