Last March, 20 medical cannabis activists hopped onto bicycles and embarked on a 380 km journey through the Spanish countryside. Their mission? To raise money for researchers at the prestigious Compultense University of Madrid (UCM).
The activists and athletes were participants in the Medical Cannabis Bike Tour, a three day initiative organized by Luc Krol of Amsterdam’s Paradise Seeds. The tour aims to both spread awareness about medical cannabis and raise funds for cancer research.
Some of the most important cannabis research in the past decade has come out of the University of Madrid, primarily due to the efforts of two men: Dr. Manuel Guzman and Dr. Guillermo Velasco.
Guzman and Velasco, professors of biochemistry at UCM, have dedicated their careers to studying the relationship between cannabis and cancer. In many ways, their findings are partly responsible for legitimizing the medicinal cannabis for the general public—in Sanjay Gupta’s proclamation supporting medical cannabis, he draws attention to the research on the anti-cancer properties of cannabis being done in Spain.
Cancer patients often use medicinal cannabis to ease pain and increase appetite, yet Guzman and Velasco’s studies are finding that cannabis does much more than relieve side effects. Both professors have discovered that the cannabis plant actually causes some types of tumors to auto-digest themselves, while normal cells remain healthy.
This finding is a huge breakthrough in cancer research. If cannabis can actually reduce the size and prevalence of tumors in the body, we are more than one step closer to finding a way to treat cancer in a safer, less painful way.
In order to support the University of Madrid’s research efforts, Krol and the Bike Tour raised 50,000 euro during their 2013 ride. This March, Luc and his team have doubled their efforts. They hope to have 50 tour riders and raise 100,000 euro to fund further research.
“Everybody knows someone in their life,” explains Krol, “that has had to deal with cancer and the tragedy that comes with it. We are hoping that, through crowd funding and company sponsorships, we can bring forth the idea that the cannabis movement, through sport, will work to contribute to a great cause and help relieve suffering.”
Guzman and Velasco are far from pinpointing exactly why cannabis has this effect, yet the two professors are making new discoveries every year. Though their work has been successful so far, conducting cannabis research is no easy task.
Other medical research initiatives gain finding through grants and investors, but the complicated legal status and the social stigma surrounding this herb makes finding financial backing much more difficult. Without funds, of course, research would be impossible.
Fortunately for researchers and cancer patients, the Bike Tour has been attracting some big name sponsors. “We’ve already got three Diamond sponsors and five Gold sponsors for 2014,” says Krol. Platinum and Gold sponsors donate at least 10,000 euro or 5,000 thousand euro, respectively. "We are very pleased. It’s come to be an enormous success."
If you are interested in sponsoring or learning more about the bike tour, you can find more information here.