Doctors of Natural Medicine

Medical Marijuana For Cancer

On this page, we will go over all the reasons to try Medical Marijuana as a supplemental treatment for Cancer. At the end you will know the history and research behind it; the science behind why medical marijuana may help; what symptoms are alleviated; and some side effects worth considering.



The American Cancer Society supports, and has supported, the need for more research on cannabinoids. They mention that  they, “recognize[s] the need for better and more effective therapies that can overcome the often debilitating side effects of cancer and its treatment.” Medical Marijuana was first legalized in California in 1996 and it is up to each state to decide when they can legalize.

At this time, medical marijuana for cancer is listed as a Schedule 1 controlled substance. Although the DEA doesn’t allow legal prescription of marijuana, the use of it is legal to treat certain medical conditions under certain state laws.

Medical marijuana was legalized in Colorado in the year 2000 and can be used with certain qualifying conditions, including as a supplemental and alternative cancer treatment option in Colorado. Read about the most up-to-date qualifying conditions for MMJ in Colorado


The issue with marijuana being listed as a Schedule 1 controlled substance is that it has made it difficult for researchers to conduct studies. Since federal law imposes numerous conditions on researchers, the DEA  has slowed the scientific study of cannabinoids.  Aside from anecdotal reports, there is very little medical evidence available to prove the effectiveness for medical marijuana for cancer. However, the American Cancer Society encourages patients to speak with his or her doctor about pain and symptom management and see if medical marijuana can be a good idea to try.

Medical Marijuana compounds

Medical Marijuana has a compound called delta-9-terahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD). These cannabinoids can cause drug-like effects on the body.  

THC in regard to medical marijuana for cancer

THC is a chemical  well-known to give you the sensation of being “high”.  THC provides this feeling of being high and most users describe it to be a pleasant sensation. In addition to feeling this high, THC helps reduce nausea, pain, and inflammation. Furthermore, THC can act as an antioxidant!


 Furthermore, according to the American Cancer Society, “Cannabidiol (CBD) can help treat seizure, can reduce anxiety and paranoia, and can counteract the high that is caused by THC.

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Alleviated cancer Symptoms with Medical Marijuana

Nause and Vomiting

A few small studies have shown that medicinal marijuana for cancer can alternatively treat and ease the side effects of chemotherapy. There have actually been two, pure man-made cannabinoids created to treat these symptoms when other medication does not! These are called dronabinol and nabilone. They are approved by the FDA. If you prefer man made medicine, this should be your go-to.


Some studies have illuminated that inhaled marijuana can treat neuropathic pain. Neuropathic pain is the type of pain caused by damaged nerves. This type of weakness, numbness or pain can result from chemotherapy or other cancer treatments. It is said that smoked medical marijuana for cancer binds cannabinoid receptors in the brain and body. 


As mentioned above, CBD has shown the decrease levels of inflammation.  


Medicinal marijuana has shown to improve appetite in HIV patients. Although this has not been tested for cancer patients, it does seem that it helps patients with food intake. 

Can Cannabinoids Kill Cancer Cells?

There isn’t much evidence that medical marijuana can help fight off cancer, ruling it out as a strictly alternative cancer treatment for Colorado residents. There have been studies that highlight that cannabinoids can be safe in treating cancer, but cannabinoids from medical marijuana for cancer have not proved to cure or help control the disease. According the American Cancer Society, “scientists reported that THC and […] CBD slow growth and/or cause death in certain types of cancer cells growing in lab dishes.” They have conducted some tests with animals which suggest certain cannabinoids may slow the cancer as well.

All in all, relying on marijuana alone is not a good option. The consensus seems that medical marijuana can help with cancer treatment symptoms but should not be replaced by conventional medicine

What are the side effects?

When using medical marijuana for cancer, just like any other medicine, there are side effects. Using medical marijuana, however, has boasted to give less side effects than medications due to its natural nature. As mentioned before, there are few studies done on medical marijuana as an alternative cancer treatment option, and most evidence is anecdotal. 

Side Effects of Medicinal Marijuana

When it comes to using medicinal marijuana, the side effects aren’t too extreme. They are:

  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Low blood pressure
  • Fast heart rate

The feeling of being high when using THC products can cause:

  •  Confusion
  • Less bodily control
  • Can trigger anxiety
  • Paranoia

Side effects of Cannabinoid Drugs

According to the American Cancer Society, dronabinol and nabilone, man-made drugs modeled after cannabis chemical structure of medical marijuana for cancer, can cause side effects. These side effects are:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Decreased blood pressure
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Fainting
  • Drowsiness
  • Mood Changes
  • A feeling of being “high,” which some report can feel uncomfortable.
  • They can worsen depression, mania, or other mental illness.
  • Nabilone studies report some hallucinations.
  • Poor coordination
  • Dry mouth
  • Trouble with recent memory
Consider these side effects when considering using cannabinoid man made drugs.


Medical marijuana seems like a viable choice when dealing with cancer treatment symptoms. Although studies are ongoing, consult with your doctor if medical marijuana for cancer can help with treatment today! Especially if you are looking for alternative cancer treatment options in Colorado, in addition to chemotherapy and other traditional methods, sign up for a medical card appointment time with one of our professionals to evaluate you for medical marijuana use.