Does Smoking Cannabis Promote Cancer?

Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t think inhaling smoke from any burning material is a good thing. Heavy cannabis smokers do run the risk of developing bronchitis.

I was reading some comments, the other day, on an article that had appeared in the local fish wrapper. Something about medicinal cannabis, or a bust or recent enacted law or… something about cannabis.

There were all of the expected comments; ‘Legalize it. No one has ever died from a cannabis O.D.. What I put in my body is my business,’ etc — and then the “flat earthers*” —  ‘Lazy potheads. What about the children? Smoking that crap will give you cancer,’ etc. 

Well, as it turns out we can take a look at a thirty-year study on cannabis induced cancers. Donald Tashkin (UCLA) has been funded by NIDA (of all organizations) during this period in an effort to answer that question.

The answer is, no. As a matter of fact, there’s an indication that cannabis users are at less risk than non-smokers for developing head, neck and lung cancers. It isn’t a truly significant indication, but it’s there.

Tashkin, himself, is surprised by the results.

See, cannabis contains many of the same carcinogens as tobacco. Matter of fact, cannabis contains about 50% more of a nasty called Benzo(a)pyrene. Anytime you see anything resembling the word Benzene you know it’s bad news.

So, how the hell can cannabis be full of carcinogens yet not be carcinogenic? Tashkin thinks it’s the THC.

We know several things about THC from clinical and laboratory studies. THC is an antimitogenic (It inhibits cell division). THC is an antiangiogenic (It inhibits new blood vessel growth). THC is proapototic (It encourages cells to die off as programmed, before they can begin to mutate). By these means, THC is an antitumoral agent.

The next time you hear, or read, a flat earther claim cannabis causes cancer tell them to put the Tashkin in their pipe and smoke it (yeah, I guess that was kinda goofy. Oh well…). Again, I don’t want to sound like I’m promoting an unhealthy activity (remember the bronchitis), but smoking cannabis will not give you cancer. Period. We have the clinical results.

Tashkin’s speculation (the THC part is speculation) mentions only THC. I know CBD has been studied as an antitumorigenic as well. I can’t help but wonder if it isn’t a player here, too.

Speaking of cannabidiol, you know it counteracts the psychoactive properties of THC, right? What I’m getting at — the more I study this plant the more I see the balance in it. A yin-yang sort of thing. Here we have a plant that is chocked full of carcinogens, yet a cannabinoid (or so) prevent it from producing cancer. A plant that can get a person rocked out of their socks, yet contains a cannabinoid, that in the proper proportion, will block the CB1 reactive sites.

What a trippy, marvelously enigmatic plant!

*an idiom, of sorts, meaning an individual whom prefers emotional rhetoric over scientific research.


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