The National Institute on Drug Abuse, a research institution run by the federal government, has grudgingly admitted that marijuana is capable of killing certain cancer cells.
A publication from NIDA, revised as of April 2015, states that “recent animal studies have shown that marijuana can kill certain cancer cells and reduce the size of others. Evidence from one animal study suggests that extracts from whole-plant marijuana can shrink one of the most serious types of brain tumors. Research in mice showed that these extracts, when used with radiation, increased the cancer-killing effects of the radiation.”
In effect, this constitutes an admission from the federal government that marijuana has medicinal value. This admission comes at a time when steam is building in the Senate for the Compassionate Access, Research Expansion and Respect States Act (CARERS). Democratic Sen. Cory Booker from New Jersey introduced the bill in early March. It quickly picked up support from GOP Sens. Rand Paul and Dean Heller, as well as Democratic Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand and Barbara Boxer.
The bill proposes moving cannabis from Schedule I to Schedule II, which recognizes on the federal level that marijuana has some medicinal value. While the bill doesn’t legalize marijuana in any state, it permits states to set their own policies, free and clear of federal raids. Additionally, it would allow Department of Veterans Affairs doctors to treat patients with the drug.
“It couldn’t be any clearer that marijuana has medical value,” Tom Angell, chairman of the Marijuana Majority, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “When even NIDA and the surgeon general are acknowledging that marijuana can help people who are suffering, it is time for the Obama administration to reschedule the drug. The attorney general can initiate that process today, and there’s no reason for him not to, especially when polling shows that such a huge majority of Americans supports medical marijuana.”
Earlier in February, 37-year-old U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy stated, “We have some preliminary data showing that for certain medical conditions and symptoms, that marijuana can be helpful. I think that we have to use that data to drive policymaking.”
Murthy was confirmed as Surgeon General in December 2014 by a 51-43 vote.
CARERS is continuing to gain bipartisan support in the Senate, although there are still some naysayers. GOP Sen. John Barrasso thinks the costs of medical marijuana, borne on the individual and community level, far outweigh any potential benefits. Republican Sen. Mike Enzi of Wyoming urged caution, arguing that “Approval of medical marijuana use at this time is premature until the research is more conclusive about benefits and risk.”