Tom Brokaw, the award-winning journalist, recently outed himself as a medical cannabis patient.
In a video for SurvivorNet, Brokaw discusses life with multiple myeloma, a cancer that affects certain white blood cells called plasma cells. Healthy plasma cells generate antibodies to protect the body from infections, but cancerous plasma cells produce abnormal antibodies, which can cause blood clots or tumorous bone growths.
“I’m now on medical marijuana for my back,” he said. “I’ve not done that before, and in Florida, it’s complex.”
Florida voters approved medical marijuana in 2016. However, the Sunshine State’s patients have experienced setbacks. Initially, they could only access edible or topical cannabis products, but the state recently allowed smokable weed. On Monday, Florida finally saw its first legal bud sale.
“I want to be vertical,” Brokaw said with a chuckle later in the video. “I want to stay upright.”
Cannabis — smokable or otherwise — can help mitigate pain associated with cancer. With multiple myeloma, bone damage in the spine compresses the vertebrae, placing pressure on the spinal cord. But weed may do a lot more than simply relieve pain in myeloma patients.
One 2014 study showed that cannabinoids could kill cultured myeloma cells. The cancer-killing process, called apoptosis, causes the cancerous cells to self-destruct while leaving healthy cells intact.
Another study from 2016 discovered that weed can enhance conventional chemotherapies for multiple myeloma, possibly by weakening the cancerous cells.
Brokaw, 79, has worked as a journalist, book author, and documentarian for nearly half a century. Once the face of NBC’s news programs The Today Show and NBC Nightly News, he now serves as the network’s Special Correspondent.
Ironically, he’s also writing on a book about Richard Nixon, the president who fought to have weed placed in the same legal category as heroin.
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