Masamitsu Yamamoto has cancer. He’s also undergoing criminal prosecution for possession of cannabis in a Japanese law court. The 58-year old has liver cancer and says he’s using cannabis as a medicine of last resort –and seeing positive progress. His story will be of interest to those investigating cannabis oil and cancer, and he hopes his case will make Japan’s legislators think twice about their current prohibition of medical marijuana, the Japan Times reports.
Article in law expressly forbids use of cannabis as a medicine
Unlike many other countries, where legislation has been softened to allow for the use of medical cannabis, Japan expressly forbids it. There’s even a law that says sick people who use medical cannabis can get a jail term of up to five years. Yamamoto says that this law infringes on people’s right to life.
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Yamamoto tried everything before resorting to cannabis
After his 2010 diagnosis, Yamamoto underwent chemotherapy, but the cancer continued to spread. He then tried a wide variety of alternative therapies at great expense but without success. He says that in total, he has spent around ¥7 million trying to treat his cancer without success.
When he heard about medical marijuana being used as a cancer treatment, he made enquiries, but found there was no way he could obtain it legally. Since he did not want to support drug dealers, he began growing his own cannabis at home. He has never given any of this produce away or sold it, he says.
Tumor markers fell to one twentieth of former levels
According to Yamamoto, using cannabis not only made him feel better and eased his depression, but reduced his tumor markers to one twentieth of their earlier levels. Since his arrest and the seizure of his cannabis, however, his condition has worsened once again.
Dr. Kazunori Fukuda of the National Cancer Research Institute in Japan says that progress made elsewhere in the world has shown that cannabis can benefit the terminally ill, if only through reducing pain, nausea and depression while stimulating appetite. In his opinion, they should be allowed to use medical cannabis, even if it does nothing but lift their mood.
Japanese lawmakers remain adamant
Despite calls from various organizations to allow “compassionate use” of marijuana, a Japanese official approached by Japan Times said that legislation prohibiting all cannabis use should remain as it is. His concerns are similar to those heard in debates around the US: allowing medical cannabis use may lead to widespread abuse of the drug, have a gateway effect leading to harder drugs, have long-term effects that are as yet unclear, and that scientific evidence in favour of cannabis oil for cancer remains incomplete.
The World Health Organization says that several studies have shown that cannabis has therapeutic effects and that it may help those with diseases such as cancer and AIDS, but says that there are gaps in current knowledge that must be addressed.
Meanwhile, Yamamoto hopes that his criminal case will draw attention to the need for compassionate cannabis and cannabis research in Japan.
Have your say
Cannabis oil and cancer are currently receiving a lot of attention. Do you think Yamamoto should be allowed compassionate access? Does cannabis really cure cancer, and if not, should patients be allowed a ‘mood lift’ through cannabis oil?