This is worrying. Recently I met with a group of medical cannabis campaigners preparing to make their case directly to the Government.
We spoke at some length about the ever increasing number of medical applications of cannabis. Everyone in the group came across as very sincere and very single minded in their aims and intentions. And then, out of the blue, “it” happened. One of the group leaned forward and earnestly told me that a friend of theirs had been diagnosed with cancer last year and that they’d been given twelve months – at the very most – to live. Their response to this news was to refuse all conventional treatments, so no chemotherapy or radiotherapy (a decision I respect as their personal choice). Their second response was to hit the weed, big time. This, they assured me, had cured their cancer, and now they were on an evangelical mission to spread the word.
Anyhow, there was immediate pressure put on me as to what I thought about the miracle cure. Talk about being put on the spot. This is a very difficult subject and I don’t want to sound heartless, but it really needs to be said that while I’ve absolutely no idea what it was that cured this person’s cancer, I’d need rather more hard proof than the say so of one person to convince me.
Things got more awkward. I tried to be as non-committal as I could, but they weren’t having any of that. I tried to express scepticism in as nice a way as I possibly could, but this was almost impossible to do under the circumstances, and my doubts as to the validity of the claim were quickly picked up on. At which point things went from bad to weird and I was accused of being an apologist for Big Pharma (BP). Seriously, it would be funny if it wasn’t so serious.
At this point, everyone started talking to me as if I was a particularly slow child. Their overarching conspiracy (because, make no mistake, that’s exactly what it is) involves BP running childhood inoculation programs that are actually time release disease causing programs. They – BP – make people ill and then sell them largely useless drugs to fill their bank accounts. I’m under no illusion about what BP gets up to, but I don’t buy this.
I’m aware that there’s an increasing amount of evidence that specific compounds within the cannabis plant do seem to show promise in the treatment of cancer, shrinking tumours and suchlike. However, the science is very much in its infancy and the evidence base just isn’t there yet. And claims (however sincere and well meant) such as the one made to me are absolutely not going to do anyone any big favours, and may inadvertently cause harm. Sure, I know that chemotherapy and radiotherapy can be utterly brutal, and the side effects seem worse than the cancer they’re used to treat, but it’s known beyond a doubt that cannabis can work wonders with these side effects (as opposed to “curing” or even “treating” the cancer itself).
The point of all this is that medical cannabis is “a thing”; it does actually work, and has been irrefutably shown to work. However, there is a long way to go before anyone can start making grandiose claims about how it cures cancer, and characters such as those I met really don’t do anything to improve the image of cannabis users (medical or otherwise) and, it seems to me, might actually do real harm to the credibility of the movement. I’m deeply hesitant to use the word “spurious” here, but I seriously think that’s what this is.
Please don’t get me wrong here, readers. If I’m mistaken and it’s proven that cannabis does indeed “cure” cancer, I’ll happily and publicly eat my words.