Larkspur-Corte Madera editor Derek Wilson writes a column called "Tick Tock..Time of My Life" that chronciles his days living with Stage 4 carcinoid cancer. Here's his latest entry.
What If Cannabis Cured Cancer?
After watching the video that posed that very question, my wife and I had one immediate reaction: Dang! We've got the munchies.
Somewhere between Your Highness and The Godfathers of Ganga on the walls of the video store sat What If Cannabis Cured Cancer? I've heard some of the scientific theories behind the question, but the movie sounded more like a group of college students looking for an excuse to get high.
I was wrong. It's more like a group of college teachers looking for an excuse to get high and charge the cost of the pot to the school.
Now, granted, a lot of great films have started at the UCLA Film School, but the foul-mouthed puppet short Kurt Cannabis Meets Connie Cancer isn't one of them, even with the voice talents of Roseanne Barr and Malcolm McDowell.
OK, I'll try to make something clear right now. I don't like the smell of smoke, whether it's from regular tobacco or marijuana, so please try not to smoke around me. Also, I have no strong beliefs one way or another about legalizing marijuana. I do, however, believe that if there are any medical benefits to marijuana, we should seek them out.
This movie might have set back by years any scientific research into the medical benefits of marijuana. It's hard to take a man seriously when he's giggling like an idiot, even if he does have tenure.
The film interviews some of the so-called pioneers of cannabis research. Dr. Jeffrey Hergenrather, MD, claims cannabis is not addictive and with normal use is much more effective than congenital cancer treatments. Dr. David Bearman, MD, seems like a scholarly author as he posits that cannabis "preferentially" kills cancer cells, actually making cancer cells commit suicide. Dr. Robert Melamede, PhD, of the University of Colorado has an impressive title, but comes off looking like a dope.
The movie, narrated by Peter Coyote, suggests that all humans are born with cannabinoids in our bodies, that they're even in mother's milk, so we are actually hard-wired to respond to cannabis. These cannabinoids are supposed to protect nerves, but they're being overwhelmed by modern society's pollution.
I checked with my doctors and they confirmed that, although it can be difficult to understand, the biology is correct. I asked Dr. Jeffrey Norton of Stanford and Dr. Alex Metzger of the Marin Cancer Institute whether they would prescribe marijuana as a cancer cure. They both said they believe in the plant's power to ease the side effects of cancer treatments. Neither was willing to dismiss entirely the possibility that cannabis could cure cancer, but they didn't seem comfortable with the idea of a cancer patient smoking pot rather than taking chemotherapy.
The most interesting part of the film for me were interviews with researchers at California Pacific Medical Center, which backed the idea that cannabis can be medically useful. This is where the science became compelling. I am open to the idea that something in cannabis can fight cancer.
There were way too many irrelevant elements to the movie, though, to take it really seriously. The suggestion that pot was the first harvested crop in history and that cavemen used it to speed up their evolution. The debate over the legalization of marijuana between Stephen Baldwin and Ron Paul — neither of whom is as credible as Coyote, or even Betty Crocker.
Speaking of Betty, I could really go for a brownie right about now.