Len Richmond’s film What if Cannabis Cured Cancer makes a strong case for the wide range of benefits attributable to marijuana. My initial observation upon watching this informative film, was why has this information been withheld from the American people for so long? Having been around for a while (I’m 58), I knew the answer, political and social forces have been at play to hush up these revelations.
The Introduction gives you some history of cannabis usage, which dates back to primitive man, who may have used pot as an enhancement to produce art and for the creation of tools. The long and short is that the natural herb has been used freely down through history, until we come upon a more rampantly developed industrial age, when big pharmaceutical companies started producing drugs synthetically.
I’m over simplifying this gradual and complicated transformation, but I think this negative development is aptly captured in an image used in the film. It’s of smokestacks in an urban landscape where polluting smoke is emanating into the clean air, poisoning the environment. The political or legal milestone of this transformation (from natural to synthetic) is a federal law that was passed on June 14, 1937, making marijuana illegal.
Chapter Two (The New Frontier) introduces the term endocannabinoids, which are genetic materials already inside us that encourage us to ‘relax, eat, sleep, forget and protect.’ In other words, these endocannabinoids fight off many of the bad forces inside us, such as depression, tension, insomnia or lack of appetite. Cannabis has cannabinoids that can work harmoniously with the endocannabinoids.
As a result of this chemical interaction, the two fit together like a key in a lock, thereby promoting the death of cancer cells (from the back of the DVD). This medication (marijuana) can help to reduce (or even eliminate) brain, breast, prostrate, lung, thyroid, or skin cancer. Since we live in an industrial age so filled with pollution and contaminants, we must use more of the herb to feed the neuro-transmitters in our nervous system to fight off these invading agents.
This is how I understood it. When you eat fast food everyday and breathe in polluted air, your metabolism experiences imbalances that your natural endocannabinoids can’t countermand. Have you ever felt depressed or nervous right after scarfing down some McNuggets in a drive-thru at McDonalds? I have – our culture is anything but natural. This may explain why so many more forms of cancer are infiltrating our lives.
Chapter Three (Pioneers) introduces some of the brave doctors who are speaking out on the beneficial aspects of cannabis. This chapter introduces more technical bio-chemical properties of cannabinoids, that tells you more clearly how they can fight cancer cells. Dr. Jeffrey Hergenrather, MD discusses these four properties, which are: 1. Antiproliferative, 2. Antiangiogenic, 3. Antimetastatic, and 4. Apoptotic.
I’ll just tell you briefly what these four cannibinoid properties do. Antiproliferative is a term that means it prevents cancer cells from reproducing. Antiangiogenic is a property that prevents formation of new blood vessels needed by tumors to grow. Antimetastatic prevents cancer from spreading to other organs. Apoptotic induces cancer cells to seek its own death. With these four properties, all contained in marijuana, cancer cells will likely lose the battle!
The last half of the Pioneers touches on some of the social dimensions of pot, such as it can make you aware of just how unpleasant our corporate culture can be. Len Richmond clips in a little segment on a surfer-type dude who bailed out of his unhappy corporate situation. He looks pretty happy now, just smoking reefer on the beach. One line that comes right after the laid back dude sequence, I couldn’t quite agree with completely.
The narrator (Peter Coyote) says that ‘pot makes the past and future not as important as the present.’ This would be the theme we generally know as the ‘Be Here Now’ philosophy (in the way I’m reading it). This wasn’t the effect that pot ever had on me (I no longer use it).
But the substance has different effects on different individuals. Others may embrace the moment they are in, but for me, it transports me out of this moment and sends me to a New Age of Action. You might recollect Sherman and Peabody on the Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoon from the 1960s. They would go back in a time machine to important moments in history and intervene in such a way as to preserve the integrity of the historical record.
Off on a tangent and I’m not even smoking anything! That’s because Chapter Four (The Chemistry) is difficult for me. Cannabis has 421 chemicals in it and 60 of them contain cannabinoids. Len provides you with lots of nice diagrams to help you to understand the chemistry. Let’s see, there’s THCV, CBD, CBG and CBDV. Did I leave one out? Anyway, the bottom line is these chemicals punch our toxins in the nose, and help to eliminate bad stuff, such as nausea, vomiting, depression, pain, anxiety or loss of appetite.
Chapter Five (The Future) returns to the legal issue of marijuana. How can law enforcement distinguish between where it’s legal (medical marijuana) and where it’s illegal? If it was legalized, these problems would disappear. The federal government persists with this archaic stance of keeping it illegal, but the relentless ‘Border Wars’ are a good argument for making it legal.
We’ve known for some time that marijuana can slow (if not stop) the growth of cancer. In 1974 a study was done by the Medical College of Virginia, that found out cannabis was ‘preventative and curative for three types of cancer, leukemia, breast cancer and lung cancer (Len Richmond).’ Originally, the goal of the study was to prove that cannabis screwed up your immune system, but it ended up coming to just the opposite conclusion.
This major medical study has been covered up for 35 years. The theme of this persuasive and important film, on the positive qualities of marijuana, is that forces (the big pharmaceutical companies and the federal government) in play will not allow these medicinal breakthroughs to be made available for the benefit of people who really need them.
By continuing with the traditional counterproductive dichotomy of an established culture versus the counter-culture (an effect of its illegality), we will only perpetuate the spinning of our wheels in endless stalemate, drug wars and incarceration of the innocent. For the sake of awareness, do yourself a favor, and view Len Richmond’s eye-opening film!
Len Richmond: queen of the jungle
To Listen to an interview with Len Richmond:
Judyth Piazza and Len Richmond Discuss The Documentary Film: What If Cannabis Cured Cancer?