(NEW YORK) — Actor-comedian Tommy Chong, one-half of the pot-loving pair “Cheech and Chong,” said he’s treating his “slow stage-one” prostate cancer with his favorite plant.
“I’ve got prostate cancer, and I’m treating it with hemp oil, with cannabis,” Chong, 74, told CNN Saturday. “So [legalizing marijuana] means a lot more to me than just being able to smoke a joint without being arrested.”
Chong told the news site that he was diagnosed with the illness about a month ago, but he first experienced symptoms of the cancer about eight years ago while in jail after selling drug paraphernalia.
He no longer smokes marijuana because of “health reasons,” he told CNN, and he consumes the hemp oil at night so he “won’t be woozy all day.”
Cannabis has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to relieve symptoms of nausea and vomiting, and to help increase appetite in people with cancer and AIDS, according to the American Cancer Society. The most potent ingredient of medical marijuana is THC. The product comes in the form of an inhaler, pills and oil and it can also be smoked.
There are no other drugs that work as well as cannabis for treating the nausea and anorexia associated with cancer and its treatments, Dr. Donna Seger, associate professor of clinical medicine at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, Tenn., told ABC News in March.
It is unclear whether Chong has undergone chemotherapy or other treatments for the cancer, but treatment of stage 1 prostate cancer, which is only found in the prostate, is often approached by the “watchful waiting” technique, when doctors allow time to pass to see the progression of the disease before they suggest surgery or medical intervention.
At least one doctor believes Chong’s promoting his self-described treatment is a disservice to other men with the disease.
“As a comedian, this is a really funny skit,” said Dr. Leonard G. Gomella, chairman of the department of urology at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia. “As a public figure who can get a forum, it is irresponsible. Had he been suffering from widely metastatic disease with bone pain and other devastations, perhaps there may be a role, but not for early disease.”
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Debbie Bryce, Idaho State Journal
Natalia Hepworth, EastIdahoNews.com
David Shortell, CNN
Tal Kopan and Jeremy Diamond, CNN