Medical marijuana patient Kirk Anderson smokes marijuana during a protest outside of the State of California building on July 18, 2011 in San Francisco,
Credit: Justin Sullivan

A group of researchers from the California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco has found that a compound derived from marijuana may help to slow the growth in many kinds of aggressive cancers. 

Pierre Desprez, one of the scientists behind the discovery, told The Huffington Post, "It took us about 20 years of research to figure this out, but we are very excited. We want to get started with trials as soon as possible."

Desprerz was initially studying  ID-1, the gene that causes cancer to spread, when he partnered with researcher Sean McAllister who was studying the effects of Cannabidiol, or CBD, a non-toxic, non-psychoactive chemical compound found in the cannabis plant, according to the Huffington Post. The pair combined CBD and cells containing high levels of ID-1 in a petri dish to come to the conclusion that CBD inhibits cancer growth. 

According to Digital Journal, High levels of ID-1 have been found in brain, ovarian, breast, prostate, cervical, liver and endometrial cancers.

"What we found was that his Cannabidiol could essentially 'turn off' the ID-1," Desprez told HuffPost.

The Times of India noted that the CBD used in animal testing was in the form of an injectable and or pill form. People would never see the same effects simply by smoking marijuana. 

The duo is now hoping to start clinical trials to make the compound available for human use. To hopefully make their research less taboo, the team has started synthesizing CBD in the lab instead of using the plant. Desprerz explained, "It's a common practice. But hopefully it will also keep us clear of any obstacles while seeking approval."

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