T’is the time of year to pledge to get fitter and do some good in the new year… well, how about doing both, and doing so in a cannabis friendly way?! The Medical Cannabis Bike Tour is set to ride again this summer – 420km through Europe – and is seeking riders for the cause.
A bike ride that draws riders and volunteers from around the world, its unique twist on cannabis activism is also funding unique clinical trials using cannabinoids (THC and CBD) to treat brain cancer patients. The trials are set to begin in Spain later this year, involving 30-40 patients in a handful of Spanish hospitals.
This news was revealed at a recent press conference held by GEINO (the Spanish group of Neuro-oncology investigation), where a €100,000 cheque was handed over by bike tour representatives. The money will be used to fund medical trials to research the effectiveness of cannabinoids as a first line therapy in the treatment of brain cancer (glioma) patients.
The trials are being run by scientists at the University of Complutense, in Madrid, where the studies of Dr Velasco and his colleague, Dr Manuel Guzman, have shown the effectiveness of cannabinoids in reducing tumour sizes and killing cancer cells. They have the backing of GEINO, which will oversee the research, providing the study with the legitimacy to be taken seriously by medical researchers around the world.
In scientific research most clinical trials that take place, especially in Europe, rely on funds from pharmaceutical companies. This process is problematic for scientists, who inevitably lose some control over their research. Crucially, thanks to MCBT funding, these trials will be independent.
Patient trials are scheduled to begin in September 2015, using cannabinoids as a first line cancer therapy for the first time. They will be conducted on patients that have recently had brain tumours removed, and the treatment will combine the use of THC and CBD with other anti-cancer agents. Approximately 30-40 patients will receive the treatment over the course of the 3-4 month programme.
Chief investigator of GEINO, iDr Juan Manuel Sepúlveda Sánchez, will be overseeing the trials and liaising with Spanish health authorities. He told the press conference, “This is a great opportunity for us. We are going to try very hard to change these patients’ lives. We have confidence in the work the scientists have done so far and we are confident these studies will show cannabinoids are safe for glioma patients and will probably find activity in reducing tumours in patients.”
The fact that the trials are are going ahead at all is a result of the success of the Medical Cannabis Bike Tour, which has galvanised international support for its cause. One of the reasons for its success has been its adoption of sport to communicate its message, challenging the ‘lazy stoner’ stereotype.
As Bike Tour founder Luc Krol, from Paradise Seeds, says, “When we are riding, everybody in the same uniform, people see a bike tour and applaud the sporting spirit. Then they look closer, see the cannabis logos, and that explodes perceptions and makes people curious. It is the same for medical cannabis. The aim of the tour is to change perceptions of cannabis forever.”
In June 2015 The Medical Cannabis Bike Tour will move from Spain where it has traditionally been held. Instead it will take a route through Belgium, Germany and Holland with the finish line in Amsterdam. The organisers hope that by moving the tour every year, the message will get spread further afield.
Luc told the press conference, “When we started out on this great adventure, we could not have dreamed that within three years we would be funding historic clinical trials, studying cannabis as a potential cancer cure. In 2015 we need to raise significant funds to complete this study. We are hoping to have at least 100 riders and more sponsors involved. I say to all of you out there, join us on this great adventure of ours!”