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Open Letter on
Marijuana and Cancer

To the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP)

By Punkerslut
Image: By Punkerslut,
Made with Graphics by Ganjabro,
Released under Creative Commons
"Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported" License

          Office of National Drug Control Policy Homepage

Date: Monday, August 9, 2010

Punkerslut to the Office of National Drug Control Policy...


     There were some comments in your Marijuana section that I thought deserved some review. For instance, there is the claim that cancer is associated with smoking Marijuana. This is largely based on the principle that the smoke of Marijuana contains the same carcinogens as Tobacco smoke -- which is already well-proven in its cancerous effects.

     According to your "Marijuana Facts & Figures" page, "Cancer of the respiratory tract and lungs may also be promoted by marijuana smoke. Marijuana has the potential to promote cancer of the lungs and other parts of the respiratory tract because marijuana smoke contains 50 percent to 70 percent more carcinogenic hydrocarbons than does tobacco smoke.12" The citation given is "National Institute on Drug Abuse, Research Report Series—Marijuana Abuse, October 2005." When I followed this link, there was no information about hydrocarbons or the chemicals in Marijuana smoke versus Tobacco smoke. But, I'll give you that as a taken, that burning any type of organic material typically produces carcinogenic chemicals in its smoke.

     My problem is not with these findings, but rather, with the interpretation that is given to their meaning. It is automatically assumed that ingesting the same chemicals produced by another cancer-causing substance will, of course, cause cancer. This lacks in credibility. If we are going to prove that Marijuana causes cancer, it will be through the same method that proved it for Tobacco. That is to say, scientific and clinical trials of individuals who use the substance. It is not enough to say that it similarly resembles another chemical well enough.

     The most well-known of any of these studies is the one by Donald Tashkin, who reported out of 2,000 subjects, "We hypothesized that there would be a positive association between marijuana use and lung cancer, and that the association would be more positive with heavier use. What we found instead was no association at all, and even a suggestion of some protective effect." (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/05/25/AR2006052501729.html) This was published in the Washington Post, as well as many other journals, so it should not be simply disregarded.

     There are other studies that are more interesting, though. In one study in 2009, "We found that moderate marijuana use was significantly associated with reduced risk HNSCC [head and neck squamous cell carcinoma]. The association was consistent across different measures of marijuana use (marijuana use status, duration, and frequency of use)." (http://www.alternet.org/health/142121)

     In the latest study, published only three days ago in Madrid, scientists were able to use THC and THC-analogues to treat metastatic breast cancer. (http://www.enewspf.com/index.php/latest-news/health-and-fitness/18029-marijuana-compound-halts-breast-cancer-tumor-growth-) In another Madrid study in 2004, scientists found that Marijuana could treat brain tumors. (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/3561686.stm) In a 2007 study at Harvard University, lung cancer was cut in half for those who used Marijuana. (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/04/070417193338.htm) In a 2008 study from Germany, researchers declared "treatment with cannabinoids, one of the active ingredients of the medicinal side of marijuana, has been shown to reduce the invasiveness of cancer cells." (http://www.salem-news.com/articles/january112008/cancer_treatment_11008.php)

     You have only one study to support your claim that Marijuana can cause cancer. And it does not even involve any Marijuana users. Rather, it involves scientists in a laboratory setting things on fire. That doesn't prove anything. The studies of actual Marijuana users themselves are far more meaningful and useful.

     You need to publish this information -- make it known that scientists have demonstrated over and over that Marijuana can cause recession of cancers. If you're not going to make it available as medicine, at least tell people the truth.

     Thank you. I patiently await a response...

Andy Carloff

By Punkerslut
Image: From the Office of National Drug Control Policy,
Edited by Punkerslut

Date: Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Office of National Drug Control Policy to Punkerslut...

Dear Mr. Carloff,

Thank you for contacting ONDCP.

We appreciate you taking the time to share your comments with us.
Your comments have been noted.

Please let us know if you have any questions.

Thank you,

Content Specialist
ONDCP Clearinghouse

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