A 1974 study, infamously known as “The Virginia Study,” was funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to reportedly, investigate the dangers of cannabis use. Instead, researchers saw cannabis shrink the cancerous tumors of rat subjects. What happened next?
Cannabis killed cancer cells in a petri dish.
Cannabis killed many sorts of cancer within the rodent study model.
But, did it kill cancer cells in humans? Science doesn’t have that answer largely because of prohibition that followed.
To understand the issue, we need to first understand that the CB1 receptors of rodents are over 95% similar to that of humans.
NOTE: We are not attempting to make medical claims, we are sharing a story about a medical study.
One of the first documented studies of cannabis’s anti-tumoral effects that we could find was in the early 1970s at the Medical College of Virginia.
“Lewis lung adenocarcinoma growth was retarded” and further went on to state “administered daily for 10 days significantly inhibited Friend leukemia virus-induced splenomegaly by 71%”.
This rat study was largely buried until a decade or so later, when activists and scientists rediscovered the study.
It’s become a thing of legend within the cannabis community.
How can this be true? Did the federal government truly conspire to hide this information from the public, or is this just another myth, among many myths, perpetuated by otherwise well-meaning weed advocates?
The Virginia study took place in 1974; the results were published in 1975. This date is roughly three or four years after the U.S. government placed cannabis into Schedule I.
Schedule 1 (CLASS I) drugs are illegal because they have high abuse potential, no medical use, and severe safety concerns.
The Virginia researchers worked with tumor-implanted mice. They found that delta-8-THC, delta-9-THC, and CBN reduce tumor size and extended the lifespans of the mice.
As most cannabis-centered studies are, this was funded by the Federal Agency known as the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Normally, with these kinds of positive results you would think that there would be motivation for further research. Instead, the NIH supposedly terminated the project.
In 1980, The Washington Post published an article with the headline “Cancer Victims to Get Marijuana Ingredient”. It further discusses Pharmaceutical Industry involvement with a THC cancer treatment (that research would later lead to the development of dronabinol a.k.a. Marinol).
In 1985, Jack Herer published the book The Emperor Wears No Clothes. He discusses information about the Cannabis plant and its numerous uses, including as hemp and as a drug. Although some of the research was questionable and largely disputed, a $100,000 bounty was issued to anyone who can disprove the claims that was never collected.
Attempts to track down the actual researchers behind the Virginia study did not pan out. Unfortunately, they’ve all retired and moved on or passed on, as the study took place nearly half a century ago.
Employees from that era at the National Institutes of Health have also been impossible to locate.
This may be one chapter of cannabis history that is lost to us.
What we do know is that as of February 2018, the federal government has continued to be quite stubborn about cannabis research that could prove beneficial to us.
Things may be changing as NIDA and the DEA claim they’re lightening up about cannabis research. Both agencies are even allowing the import of Canadian Marijuana for research purposes.
The United States FDA recently approved a Pharmaceutical Industry Giant, GW Pharmaceuticals and their CBD based drug derived from cannabis, for use in seizure patients called “Epidiolex”.
In December 2018, the Farm Bill passed that removed Hemp as a controlled substance.
In short, we’ve come a long way since 1974. But we still have a long way to go, too.
Do your own due diligence and research regarding your health and choices.