Prop. 19 Offers Major Potential for Some Cancer Patients

Ten years ago I wrote – and AlterNet published – the very first bylined news story about the active ingredients in marijuana destroying cancerous tumors. The article was entitled, “Pot Shrinks Tumors; Government Knew in ’74.”

Much to its credit, AlterNet has archived the story for a decade and the link still gets picked up and reposted to websites around the world. You can read it here.

After I wrote the story, and won a 2000 Project Censored award for doing so, my frustration at not seeing the facts in the article reported and discussed in the mainstream media eventually led to my giving up a 20-year journalism career in disgust.

Now, with California voters on the eve of deciding whether the Golden State will legalize adult cannabis use, I feel the need to point out some important facts that are getting short shrift in the debate over Proposition 19, the “tax and regulate” cannabis initiative.

If California legalizes marijuana, it will be fitting, since California was the very first state in the Union to make cannabis possession and cultivation illegal nearly 100 years ago, back in 1913. Prior to that, cannabis was the active ingredient in many common medicines, for everything from migraines to arthritis to colic.

That’s right: during the 1800s my great-grandparents' generation used to give cannabis extract to their babies to soothe them.

These days, of course, if a person dares to give cannabis in any form to their own child, for whatever reason, they face jail time and having their kids taken away. But that’s a subject for another article.

What begs discussion on the occasion of California’s historic vote, which the whole world is watching, is that cannabis has been shown in hundreds of laboratory studies over the past ten years not only to be physiologically harmless, but also to be the most potent anti-cancer agent found in nature. No other natural substance holds the cancer-stopping power of cannabis and that's a proven fact.

In addition, cannabinoids, the active ingredients in marijuana, shrink and prevent the spread of tumors far more effectively than synthetic chemotherapy agents, for the simple reason that they destroy cancer cells without damaging healthy cells, a feat that widely prescribed chemotherapy cocktails can't duplicate.

Two unlikely journalists have led the way in publicizing research on the cancer-fighting powers of cannabis, filling a ten-year void left by the mainstream media. One is Paul Armentano, a frequent contributor to AlterNet and spokesman for NORML, the nation’s oldest pot legalization organization. Paul’s diligent coverage of every type of cannabis research is exemplified by this article about the potential of cannabis as a cancer treatment and this story about the huge number of laboratory studies already done on marijuana.

The other pioneering cannabis scribe is Granny Storm Crow, the pseudonym of a retired teacher's aide in her '60s who every year publishes a compendium of cannabis research as it applies to a vast range of illnesses, both mental and physical. This year her list of thousands of cannabis studies runs to 420 pages, with research specifically addressing cancer appearing on pages 70-97. You can find it here.

California voters need to know that the plant they are voting on is not just something people like to smoke while watching their favorite YouTube videos. Tens of thousands of sick people throughout California find relief from scores of ailments by using cannabis because this plant has so many healing qualities, in addition to its relatively mild psychoactive properties.

In fact, many medical marijuana users ingest cannabis in forms that do not get them “high” at all, such as skin creams, oils, suppositories and many edible forms of the plant.

Proposition 19 is not just about “smoking weed to get high.” It’s about opening the door to a full, uncensored discussion of the many benefits of marijuana and its botanical cousin, industrial hemp, which were freely cultivated for 400 years in America prior to their ill-conceived federal prohibition in 1937. As Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in a 2005 U.S. Supreme Court opinion, “In the early days of the Republic, it would have been unthinkable that Congress could prohibit the local cultivation, possession and consumption of marijuana.”

If cannabinoids are the most potent of all anti-cancer agents, as over ten years of laboratory studies document, then the citizens of California need to think about that before they vote on Proposition 19. Californians who choose to support cannabis prohibition, notably Sen. Dianne Feinstein, chair of the “No on Prop. 19” effort, must also be willing to accept responsibility for restricting their fellow citizens’ access to a harmless substance you can grow in your garden that is proven to destroy, and prevent, deadly cancers.

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