The human body is born with an innate anti-cancer mechanism, a compound that mimics a widely available herb. But the plant's potential benefits have largely gone unexamined, because it happens to be illegal.
Research finding cancer-fighting benefits from cannabis use is nothing new, says documentary filmmaker Len Richmond. But those few studies have been squelched and kept quiet.
While serious researchers who want to investigate and attempt to quantify the possible medical benefits of cannabis are routinely stymied, Richmond notes that efforts to develop new synthetic imitations are starting to gain momentum.
Just as marijuana growers have assiduously crossbred plants to boost their psychoactive properties, Dr.Hergenrather says they are now being encouraged to develop new strains that emphasize the healing cannibinoids and scale back the THC.
Some health officials who are skeptical of marijuana's medicinal benefits have suggested that smoking it is just as unhealthy as smoking tobacco. Dr. Jeff Hergenrather says two California studies that compared the consequences of both kinds of smoking offer strong evidence to debunk that claim.
What If Cannabis Cured Cancer? will be shown at 7 pm on Saturday, July 23 at the Occidental Center for the Arts. Dr. Hergenrather will be there to lead a discussion after the screening. You can see a trailer for the film below. Other aspects of medical marijuana research are explored in the upcoming PBS film, Clearing the Smoke; the Science of Cannabis, which will be shown on KRCB-TV on Aug.15.