Public release date: 1-Aug-2007

PHILADELPHIA – The major active component of marijuana could enhance the ability of the virus that causes Kaposi’s sarcoma to infect cells and multiply, according to a team of researchers at Harvard Medical School. According to the researchers, low doses of Ä-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), equivalent to that in the bloodstream of an average marijuana smoker, could be enough to facilitate infection of skin cells and could even coax these cells into malignancy.

“These findings raise some serious questions about using marijuana, in any form, if you have a weakened immune system,” said lead study author Jerome E. Groopman, M.D., professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. “While THC is best known as the main psychotropic part of marijuana, an analog of THC is the active ingredient of marinol, a drug frequently given to AIDS patients, among others, for increasing appetite and limiting chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting.”