But a drug company from the U.K. is looking to challenge that. GW Pharmaceuticals just unveiled preliminary data from an early trial of its cannabis-derived therapy.
The company claims that its substance—which combines cannabidiol and THC, the element that produces the “high” in marijuana—boosts brain cancer patients’ median survival rates by about six months, compared to a non-cannabis placebo.
The type of brain cancer targeted is glioblastoma multiforme, a particularly nasty and fatal form of the disease. Those who get it have only a 30 percent chance of living past two years, and they suffer significant brain damage along the way.
The substance seems to work by boosting a process that regulates cell self-degradation more effectively, slowing tumor growth and progression. It also acts on an intercellular pathway that tends to be overactive in many cancers.
When THC and cannabinoids are put together, they work together to reduce the viability of cancer cells, the recent study suggests.
Can you achieve the same effect by “self-medicating,” shall we say? Probably not. The GW drug uses concentrated marijuana derivatives in very specific doses that are being clinically tested, so it’s not like smoking weed, according to Fortune.