Researchers are getting the opportunity to study the benefits and risks of cannabis for cancer patients by the U.S. federal government funding. A post by the National Insitutes of Health (NIH) on Thursday said that 1 in about 4 cancer patients have been using cannabis products to manage their symptoms; such as nausea, pain, and anorexia. Unforunately research on it’s effectiveness, good and bad, has been limited.

The NIH agency stated it’s purpose for the post is to “promote research in understanding the mechanisms by which cannabis and cannabinoids affect cancer biology, cancer interception, cancer treatment and resistance, and managment of cancer symptoms.” NIH also explains the reasoning behind this effort is due to the growing number of cancer patients seeking relief with medical cannabis, but that there are not enough studies to verify its effectiveness.

Here’s a list of research topics that NIH is seeking studies on with various funding opportunities: 

    • Understanding how exogenous cannabis and cannabinoids affect cancer development (preneoplasia through malignancy) and biology, including the tumor microenvironment;
    • Understanding how endogenous cannabinoid pathways influence cancer development and biology;
    • Defining the effects of cannabis and cannabinoids on cancer treatment (particularly targeted treatments and immunotherapy) and the development of treatment resistance;
    • Understanding the use of cannabis and cannabinoids in cancer interception and delineating how endocannabinoid signaling pathways may inhibit early cancers;
    • Defining the mechanisms of cannabis and cannabinoid action in alleviating symptoms of cancer and cancer treatment (such as pain, nausea and neuropathy);
    • Understanding the combinatorial effects of cannabis and cannabinoids in conjunction with other factors (such as tobacco constituents, alcohol, microbiome or diet) on cancer biology, treatment and symptom management;
    • Identifying biological mechanisms underlying disparities in sex or ethnicity in cannabis and cannabinoid action in cancer biology, treatment or symptom management; and
    • Developing or validating new and human-relevant model systems to understand cannabis and cannabinoid action in cancer biology, treatment or symptom management.

NIH does say the list is just a guidline and researchers are welcome to propose other topics, as long as they are within the basic framework.

Several federal health agencies have worked to bolster cannabis science as the legalization movement spreads. As the percentage of cannabis users rise in the US, it is even more important that studies and research are funded.

How do you feel about the federal government funding cannabis research? Do you think it is good, bad or indifferent?