For the average smoker, the munchies can ruin a waistline. But for cancer patients such as Tommy Chong, marijuana-induced cravings can be a lifesaver.
"I'll tell you how cannabis really helped me," Chong told a crowd of thousands at Ann Arbor, Michigan's annual Hash Bash, April 2. "It gave me an appetite for food, which is really an appetite for life. Because if you want to die, quit eating. You will die. We need food. And the one thing that cannabis does, it gives you the munchies, and thank God for the munchies."
Chong's personal testimonial about using cannabis as an appetite stimulant is backed by science. Researchers studying the munchies, including Tamas Horvath of Yale University, suggest that hunger induced by cannabis use can help patients undergoing cancer treatment maintain healthy appetites. So Chong isn't exaggerating when he says it helped save his life when he fought prostate cancer in 2012 and rectal cancer in 2015.
The event in Michigan was the 45th Hash Bash celebration. And it wasn't the first to draw a big name. The annual gathering of marijuana activists began in 1971, when John Lennon visited the city to help protest the 10-year sentence given to political activist John Sinclair for possession of two joints.
That year, Ann Arbor became the first American city to decriminalize marijuana. And this November, the state of Michigan will have the opportunity to legalize recreational marijuana use. Chong has been actively campaigning for MI Legalize's ballot initiative.
Protestors gather in D.C. too
Marijuana reform (and smoke) was also in the air in Washington, D.C. last weekend. Dozens of protestors (and a 51-foot inflatable joint) gathered for a smoking session outside of the White House on Apr. 2 to call on President Obama to reclassify marijuana in the Controlled Substances Act.
Right now, cannabis is a Schedule I drug, which means the federal government considers cannabis as dangerous as heroin. That scheduling severely restricts researching marijuana to fully understand its medical properties and potential uses in treating cancer as well as epilepsy and other conditions.
For more on the health benefits of marijuana, check out this clip of Chong telling his own story at Hash Bash.