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New Study Shows Specific Cannabis Compounds Kill Cancer

cannabis medicine
Written by Sarah Friedman

We talk about cannabis being good for lots of medical issues, like spastic disorders, neurodegenerative diseases, wasting away disorders, anxiety, microbial diseases, sleep disorders, blood pressure and blood sugar regulation, and so on. One of the more interesting points of research is with cancer, with a recent study coming out to show that specific cannabis compounds can kill cancer cells.

Marijuana is a powerful tool, both medically and recreationally. Whether you’re using the right mixture of cannabis compounds to kill cancer, or just taking it easy after a long day at work, having your product of choice is important. For many, using delta-8 THC is preferable to delta-9, since it comes with less psychoactive effect, and less anxiety and couch locking. For those trying to treat a problem, delta-8 is therefore often the primary choice. We support this newer brand of THC, and have a selection of delta-8 THC deals to get you started, whether you’re a medical patient, or just want to kick back.

New research into cannabis and cancer

The idea of cannabis as a medicine to treat cancer has been relevant for quite some time, but the world often moves slow in acceptance. As such, the case for cannabis against cancer has been built over many years, with a recent study showing the ability for specific parts of the cannabis plant to kill cancer cells. Though this doesn’t make it a medical rule just yet, this last study is powerful ammunition in the general debate about cannabis and cancer.

In March, 2021, this study was published: Specific Compositions of Cannabis sativa Compounds Have Cytotoxic Activity and Inhibit Motility and Colony Formation of Human Glioblastoma Cells In Vitro. The study looks at the effects of specific cannabinoid fraction combinations to fight glioblastoma multiforme cells (GBM), a type of brain cancer. While it has been established that certain phytocannabinoids can trigger the death of these cells, finding the exact configuration of cannabinoids for optimal effects, is a bit harder, and thus, being explored now.

The reason the term ‘phytocannabinoids’ is used here, and not ‘cannabinoids’, is that this study is specifically looking at the compounds directly out of non-decarboxylated plant material. Decarboxylation is the chemical process (generally accessed through heat) which makes a compound lose a carboxyl group, and shift to another compound. The version we are most familiar with, is the decarboxylation of THCA to THC. THC is a cannabinoid, THCA is a phytocannabinoid.

brain cancer

In this particular study put out in March, the study investigators identified certain fractions of a cannabis strain that are particularly good at reducing viability and motility of GBM cells in humans. The translation being that they reduce cancer cell ability to survive and move. Not only did the specific cannabinoid fractions inhibit viability and motility, they also decreased the ability for the cancer cells to form colonies in both two- and three-dimensional models.

These colonies are associated with a higher resistance to current available medical treatments, and according to this research, cannabis treatments might be able to inhibit the formation of these GBM neurospheres, thereby making treatment that much more possible. Think of the colonies formed by bacteria like MRSA, and how difficult they are to fight because of biofilms. Well, this is a similar concept, making these cells just as hard to get to.

Apart from what was just gone over, the same compounds were able to kill glioma stem cells taken from tumor specimens, reinforcing the ability of cannabis compounds to kill cancer cells. According to the study investigators: “The effectiveness of the fractions and combinations of cannabis compounds should be examined in GBM pre-clinical studies and clinical trials.” This study highlights the importance of using the correct part of the plant to fight cancer.

Is GBM, like, really bad?

Yeah, it really is. This specific class of cancer, glioblastoma, are the most common form of malignant brain tumors, accounting for 47.7% of cases. Glioblastoma incidences are 3.2 out of every 100,000, and these brain tumors are very aggressive and grow very quickly. While this cancer generally won’t spread to distant organs, it does invade nearby brain tissue. GBM requires immediate attention, as it can kill a person in under six months if left untreated.

These tumors are specifically difficult to treat for the following reasons: localized locations that are difficult to get to, resistance to standard treatments, inability of the brain to adequately repair itself, damage of adjacent brain tissue, tumor leakage which results in fluid around the tumor and intracranial hypertension, the disrupted blood supply on account of the tumor which makes treating it more difficult, seizures induced by the cancer, and neurotoxicity of current treatment options.

These are not easy-to-survive cancers, with an unfortunate death toll associated. Generally, about 40% survive the first year after diagnosis, and only 17% survive the second. The tumors can be diagnosed via different kinds of MRIs, and the cancers are generally treated through a combination of surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. Since the tumor cells infiltrate nearby cells, its nearly impossible to actually remove the whole tumor during surgery, leading to a need for radiation and chemotherapy. The surgery is usually done as a craniotomy, which means opening up the skull, and since doctors need to be sure not to remove parts that can damage the brain further, this is sometimes done with the patient awake.

cannabis kill cancer

When the wound of surgery is healed, the next step of regular treatment is radiation, meant to target whatever tumor cells are still living in the brain. This causes damage to both the cancer cells, the damaged brain cells, and to healthy brain cells too. It should be pointed out that one of the predictive factors for developing a glioblastoma, is prior therapeutic radiation, meaning the treatment for the cancer, can cause the same cancer, and that radiation from other cancer treatments, can cause a glioblastoma. Creates a bit of a quandary when looking at how to deal with it.

Some patients undergo chemotherapy as well, in the form of the drug temozolomide. This medication is given during radiation treatment, and for six cycles after treatment, with each cycle lasting 28 days. To give an idea of how extreme this medication is, the drug is only actually given for the first five days of a cycle, followed by 23 days to rest.

Should we expect cannabis to kill cancer?

Some of the most important medical findings involving cannabis, relate to its ability to help with cancer, and this can be done in different ways. Killing cancer cells is one thing, another is to help with the wasting associated with cancer treatments (as well as HIV and other disorders or treatments that effect a person’s appetite and ability to eat). It can help with the nausea and vomiting that come along with cancer or the treatment of it, plus, it’s also associated with helping ease the pain caused by different kinds of cancer or their treatments. Lastly, it can help the body deal with, and heal from, the damage of these illnesses and treatments.

Obviously, the most important of these is the sheer ability to safely, and with less damage, actually kill the cancer cells. And when looking at cannabis and cancer in general, we have reason to believe that cannabis can be good at killing many different kinds of cancer cells. Take GBM for example, these are aggressive brain tumors that now show a good response to a specific cannabinoid concoction. But we already have evidence of other cancers where cannabis might be useful. In fact, there is plenty of reason to believe that nearly any cancer could be responsive to the right cannabis treatment, and this has been shown in the cited research.

Specific areas of cancer and cannabis study involve skin cancer, where it has been shown to be effective for specific kinds, as well as the pain associated with these cancers. Brain cancer, in both children and adults, for which millions of dollars have now been earmarked for research given the growing body of research to support the effectiveness. It has also been shown effective with melanoma patients, leading the company Cannabics Pharmaceuticals to develop specific anti-tumor treatments for melanoma patients.

Cannabics has gone further than this though, also announcing this year the release of study results for the RCC-33 drug, which the company developed as a treatment for colorectal cancer. To give an idea of how much Cannabics believes cannabis can be used to fight different cancers, the company recently filed patent applications for exclusive treatments for several different kinds of cancer.

medical cannabis

While I could write about 10 articles just on the research into cannabis and cancer, I’ll end this section with a pull to the heartstrings, that exemplifies the necessity of these medications. Back a few years ago, it was reported that Dr. William Courtney, of the Cannabis International Foundation, helped a father cure his eight-month-old’s cancer via CBD oil on the pacifier. Courtney commented on it, “this child…is not going to have the long-term side effects that would come from a very high dose of chemotherapy or radiation.”


While we don’t often make statements in the medical community, I feel like the statement ‘cannabis helps with cancer’, is one that can be said more freely at this point. Regardless of how long it takes for this to become common knowledge, the amount of time it takes, does nothing to detract from the abilities of the plant when it comes to cancer. Let’s hope acceptance starts moving faster, since there are a lot of people who could use this help.

Research into the topic is very much gaining, and with more and more patients seeing positive results from cannabis medicines, it’s hoped that with just a little more R&D, they might soon be the first medicines offered to cancer patients. Maybe medical statements can’t be made, but it sure does seem like cannabis can kill cancer.

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DisclaimerHi, I’m a researcher and writer. I’m not a doctor, lawyer, or businessperson. All information in my articles is sourced and referenced, and all opinions stated are mine. I am not giving anyone advise, and though I am more than happy to discuss topics, should someone have a further question or concern, they should seek guidance from a relevant professional.

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1 Comment

  • Dear Ms. Friedman –

    In May 2021, my 46-year-old son, Christopher, was diagnosed with Grade 4, inoperable Glioblastoma (inoperable because of location). A shunt was immediately inserted to relieve the swelling and Chris’ symptoms of malaise and headaches. Afterward, Chris underwent the usual course radiation and chemotherapy treatment, and he now wears a helmet (Optune) that, in layman terms, creates an electromagnetic field to destroy the cancer cells. Although it seems unbelievable, the size of Chris’ tumor has decreased by 50%.

    Needless to say, I continue to search for new research, treatments, etc. to help improve the quality and extend the length of my son’s life. As a result, it was with great interest that I read your article regarding a new study that shows how some cannabis kills cancer. Chris lives in the State of Arizona where marijuana is legal. As such, I am writing to ask if you would be so kind as to provide me with information associated with the study, such as the strain involved and to explain the importance of non-carbon.

    Should you have any questions or require additional information, please do not hesitate to contact me.

    I would greatly appreciate any guidance or assistance that you can offer regarding my request. In the interim, please accept my sincere thanks for your kind attention and consideration.

About the author

Sarah Friedman

I look stuff up and and write stuff down, in order to make sense of the world around. And I travel a lot too.