“I see signs of a revolution everywhere.” – Dr. Sanjay Gupta
In the past twenty months, more progress has been achieved in medicinal cannabis reform than ever before. Much of this can be attributed to Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s documentary Weed, which premiered August 11, 2013. It was the first mainstream documentary to show a truly exceptional application of medicinal cannabis – reducing seizures in intractable epileptic disorders. Suddenly, cannabis wasn’t just something that made people eat more or got them so high they forgot they were in pain. It was having a powerful medical effect on something not even the most powerful pharmaceuticals had a chance against. Charlotte Figi, who went from 300 seizures a week to less than three a month, was the poster child for what cannabis could do for epilepsy.
After Weed aired, parents from around the country who had children suffering from Dravet syndrome and other intractable epileptic conditions realized that cannabis could be their hope. They started traveling to Colorado in record numbers to treat their children with cannabis oil. And it’s been working. In fact, the most recent observational results obtained with GW Pharmaceutical’s high-cannabidiol product Epidiolex are extremely promising, with a 51% reduction in seizure frequency among Dravet syndrome patients and a 52% reduction in seizure frequency among Lennox-Gastaut syndrome patients. These are incredible results given that Epidiolex is 98% CBD, and many patients are finding that increased levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) or tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA) are critical for more complete seizure control. Most families who have fled to Colorado have either used high-CBD oils like Charlotte’s Web or Hayley’s Hope, and only a relatively few number of patients have had access to Epidiolex.
In an April 16, 2015 article, Dr. Sanjay Gupta discussed the revolutionary nature of medicinal cannabis reform. He even used the word “revolution” 15 times in his article, including the title. Indeed, the changes that have come are amazing. Most have taken place after the release of Dr. Gupta’s follow-up documentary Weed 2, which aired March 11, 2014. In April, May, and July of 2014, Maryland, Minnesota, and New York became the respective next three states to legalize medicinal cannabis. 14 other states, including highly conservative ones like Alabama, Mississippi, and Iowa, have passed “CBD-only” laws. All of this has happened in a remarkably short amount of time.
When people are in pain and a state of desperation, they do not wait. Numerous high-profile doctors and scientists cautioned parents against using cannabis oil because it was unproven and we do not know the risks. But those people are not in the position of parents, who have to watch their children suffer every day. Any second, their children could have a seizure that kills them. They cannot afford to wait years for research, when all around them they see other parents having success. So they connected the dots between the scientific and anecdotal evidence, and made the decision to treat their children with cannabis oil. While it has not worked for everyone, most parents are seeing some kind of benefit, especially when they take the time to find what cannabinoid formulation functions best.
This is Only the Beginning
Most people are not directly affected by epilepsy, so the focus on cannabis for epilepsy has not garnered mass outrage from the country, although it should have. However, cannabis for cancer very well could be the issue that creates a true revolution.
We have now seen the semi-revolutionary effects that using cannabis for epilepsy has created – medical refugees in Colorado and California, extraordinarily rapid legislative reform, and a storm of news articles. If a comparable Weed-like documentary comes out focusing on cannabis for cancer or a clinical trial formally proves efficacy in humans, things will explode. Hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of people from around the world will demand access to cannabis extracts as their last hope. Desperation will drive their unwavering commitment to finding cannabis medicine.
As with epilepsy, experts will say that trying to treat cancer with cannabis is too premature, and patients should powerlessly wait for more trials. But again, as with epilepsy, patients cannot and will not wait. They will see the overwhelming scientific and anecdotal data, and make their decisions regardless of what disconnected higher-ups say. The size of this demand will be immense compared to what exists now, and will drive a worldwide revolution.
I believe that when we truly hit the tipping point, medicinal cannabis will become legal throughout the entire world within a matter of weeks. This sounds fast, but the power of desperation should not be underestimated. Thanks to the Internet, any groundbreaking knowledge can be made available throughout the world in a day. When there is legitimate mainstream news about cannabis killing cancer in humans, it will spark action and outrage in large groups in every country in the world. The surge in cannabis demand and intensity of protests will force governments to take action. It will probably take time to enact formal regulation and distribution schemes, but at the very least, governments will need to decriminalize medical cannabis for the treatment of serious disorders. Not doing so means taking away all hope of survival from terminal cancer patients and individuals with other terminal conditions.
The resurgence of medicinal cannabis is a revolution in so many respects – social, political, legal, medical, industrial, and even spiritual. The existence of cannabis has indirectly led to the discovery of the endocannabinoid system, the largest neurotransmitter network in the body that is somehow implicated in the pathology of virtually all major diseases. Therefore, it is no surprise that cannabis-based medicines are proving to be effective in reversing these diseases, including cancer. It is only a matter of time before people realize what cannabis can really do, and when that happens, we will all experience a bona fide revolution.