Cancer and Marijuana: Can Weed Really Help Cancer Patients?


You’ve heard that marijuana eases the pain of cancer victims, but how much is true? Is smoking marijuana more dangerous than other forms of ingestion? Should you consider marijuana for pain?

We’re going to take a quick look at how cancer and marijuana are linked and the different ways people take it. Remember to check your state’s laws on marijuana before moving forward.

Cancer and Marijuana

There is information circulating that smoking marijuana doesn’t cause cancer or that it even cures cancer. Take any information about marijuana that you hear from certain people with a grain of salt. Studies are still ongoing and it will be a few years until we understand what we need to know before everyone jumps on the legalization train.

Forms of Ingestion

When people think of marijuana they probably immediately think of someone smoking a blunt or using a bong. These methods aren’t the only ways to get marijuana in your system.

Smoking or vaping gives faster results. Take care that children aren’t around as second-hand smoke can still affect them.

There are pills made of the extracts you can swallow. A liquid form also exists that can be taken orally. You can also have it made into edibles that take longer to activate.

Always make sure your supply is kept away from children, pets, or curious friends. You wouldn’t share your post-surgery morphine, so don’t share your medical marijuana brownies.

Parts of the Plant

There are two primary extracts called cannabinoids from marijuana that doctors are looking into right now. CBD and THC come from the same plant but are treated very differently.

CBD can help with pain, seizures, and inflammation. It is more widely available and less heavily regulated. CBD lacks the ability to get people high but has many medical applications.

THC is the chemical in marijuana that gets people “high”. While more people would choose this for a good time, it does have medical applications. THC famously increases appetite and can help chemo patients regain their ability to eat without nausea.

Medical Marijuana Uses

The primary use of legal marijuana today is medical. Marijuana is used to ease nausea in people going through chemo so they can eat. It also has some potential in helping people with glaucoma.

Most medical marijuana users take it for pain relief. It fills the gap between over the counter pain medication and hospital level opioids. Chronic pain can be lessened or negated by the regular use of medical marijuana.

Many people choose to take medical marijuana, when they can, over opioids. Marijuana is less habit forming that opioids and less addictive. There is a real danger of addiction when using opioids to treat pain since they are in the same family as heroin.

Opioid addiction is a major problem in the US and is growing as more people are exposed to these drugs. And while your grandparents may think weed is addictive, it has nothing compared to opioids like heroin. Even legal opioids like Oxycontin or Vicodin can cause major addiction problems in users.

While marijuana isn’t the strongest pain reliever, it can be a preferable alternative to opioids when possible. Just don’t think you can use marijuana to go through surgery. The best usage in this context is for chronic pain from a disease or accident.

Medical marijuana also has possible uses in sufferers of PTSD, anxiety, and other stress-related disorders. The calming effects from CBD and THC can lessen the negative feelings and help people suffering stress disorders live normal lives.

Connections to Cancer

As stated, medical marijuana can take the edge off of chemotherapy and allow patients to regain appetite and feel well enough to keep food down. But depending on how you consume marijuana it may be a double-edged sword.

Smoking marijuana may have similar risk factors like smoking cigarettes since you’d still be introducing smoke into the lungs. Since there are other ways to ingest marijuana you should reduce the risk of cancer in any way possible.

Smoking is a faster way of getting the THC and CBD into your system but still threatens your lungs with smoke. If you want to cut the risk of lung cancer from smoke, the only thing that should be going into your lungs is air.

Smoking also puts others around you at risk with second-hand smoke. Don’t think that just because it isn’t tobacco that all of the problems are gone. People with asthma can suffer from tobacco and marijuana smoke.

There have been studies that show a possibility that the chemicals in marijuana can help in cancer treatment. In lab studies, it can enhance the effects of radiation treatment. Other tests show a possible ability to slow or shrink certain types of cancer cells.

Due to its effect on pain, marijuana is useful for relieving the chronic pain associated with some cancers. Although if the pain is too severe other treatments should be considered.


While many states are quickly moving towards legalizing medical marijuana, it’s a slow road for recreational use. Only ten states have legalized recreational use compared to the almost two dozen that allow medical. It can be difficult to find a state that allows recreational nearby.

Weed tourism is a growing economy in states like Colorado, California, and Nevada. So if you can’t wait for your state to get on board then consider taking a vacation.

Make Sure It’s Legal

That’s only a fraction of the information on the links between cancer and marijuana. Before you go looking for medical marijuana make sure you can legally use it in your state. With the rise in studies showing the benefits of medical marijuana, you should see it on the ballot at least.

Check out our other articles on marijuana and its potential health benefits.