Zach DeStefano: The science of cannabis


Sentiment from President Ronald Reagan’s propagandistic campaign against marijuana is still persistent in the U.S. – even in Vermont. It is unsurprising that anti-cannabis advocacy groups continue to use the outdated rhetoric to support unscientific claims.

Clearly, a maturing brain (under the age of 21) should not be exposed to cannabis, the same way it should not be exposed to caffeine – both hinder mental development. Nonetheless, for mature brains, cannabis is in fact less addictive than caffeine. More importantly, cannabis may actually be Vermont’s ticket out of the opioid crisis, as it may really be an anti-gateway drug.

The repression of cannabis has led to a delay in necessary research that could aid the medical industry and its patients. THC has shown to be an excellent analgesic (painkiller), and has the potential to limit dependency on opioids. Not only do cannabinoids (THC, CBD) benefit health, but terpenes, such as limonene, have powerful anxiolytic properties. It also is known to treat MRSA staph infections when synergized with CBD. Another terpene, myrcene, has been proven to reduce inflammation by blocking hepatic carcinogenesis by aflatoxin. Again, there is a long list of attributes for this terpene solo, but when combined with cannabinoids it creates an even wider variety of effects. Studies have shown that the entourage effect, or the properties of myrcene with THC, also contributes to treating sleeping disorders such as insomnia. Ask any anti-cannabis advocate about terpenes and you’ll receive a bewildered look instead of an informed answer.

Additionally, THC has been said to suppress the growth of cancer cells, but due to the lack of political support, research is minimal. However, in a clinical study conducted with animals, THC has been noted to decrease the growth of angiogenesis in many types of tumor xenografts. One test used a silastic infusion catheter to dispense THC to the subject. A solution of THC and saline was applied a few days after the patient underwent surgery. Biopsies of tumor cell parameters were taken both before and after the treatment, then compared. Schematic diagrams showed a significant decrease in the surviving fraction to a complete decease of the cancer.

Unfortunately, until Vermont accepts cannabis, none of this is possible. The research of cannabis is significantly needed, and popular opinion must change in its favor. There is already a vast amount of evidence displaying the benefits of cannabis as a healthy alternative, but the truth lies hidden behind inaccurate beliefs.