Say hello to the world’s most commonly grown, trafficked, and used drug. Cannabis’s history has been a tumultuous one at home and overseas. As new research continually highlights medical weed’s benefits and potential benefits, so does the clamor for further legalization.
Today, 37 states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical cannabis, and more Americans are being prescribed it than ever before.
But medical cannabis has traversed a long, rocky road to get to where it is today. Let’s examine the history of medical cannabis.
Where Medical Cannabis Sits Today
Firstly, today’s medical cannabis industry is thriving. With more than two-thirds of U.S. states deciding to legalize, more patients than ever have the opportunity to use medical weed for conditions including:
· Chronic Pain
· Hepatitis C
· Multiple Sclerosis
Research remains ongoing, with many expecting marijuana to be legalized at the federal level for medicinal purposes. In the meantime, patients continue to jump through hoops to purchase weed legally.
Enlisting the help of a third-party provider to help you navigate the MMJ card system is vital to accessing this critical medicine. Contact Green Health Docs to apply for your KY medical card online and get the help you need.
The Ancient Origins of Medical Cannabis
Cannabis is one of the oldest documented medicines. The first mention of the cannabis plant came during the reign of Chinese Emperor Shen Nung, over two thousand years before Christ. Emperor Nung is also the same man credited with the invention of tea and numerous innovations in agriculture, philosophy, and medicine.
Cannabis would continue to be cultivated and used in traditional medicines in China and the rest of Asia for centuries. During this long period (until the 17th century), references to the plant were in scant supply.
However, it’s reasonable to assume that it continued to be utilized in traditional medicines for everything from malaria to dysentery, as was recommended by Emperor Nung.
Emergence in the West
Cannabis has never been an indigenous plant in Europe, so the plant was practically unknown until the 17th century. International trade led the European empires of the time to the plant, with Englishman Robert Burton mentioning it in his book The Anatomy of Melancholy as a potential treatment for depression.
However, physician William Brooke O’Shaughnessy from Ireland would be the first to test and document the powerful capabilities of cannabis. In his experiments, he used the Cannabis indica plant, today known as the Hindu Kush.
He explored different parts of the plant during his time in India, determining its potencies and medicinal effects. His observations differed heavily, which modern physicians believe was due to differing amounts of psychoactive THC found in various parts of the plant.
Fall Into Stigma
Unfortunately, the 19th century saw the first wave of the moral panic surrounding cannabis. British MP Mark Stewart declared in 1891 that “the lunatic asylums of India are filled with ganja smokers.”
His quote led to the 1904 Indian Hemp Drugs Commission Report, which concluded that cannabis was perfectly fine in moderation but could lead to harmful health effects when used in excess. Sadly, only the latter part of the report was taken into consideration.
Over in the U.S., prohibition officer Henry Anslinger would create another moral panic by associating cannabis with Hispanic and African-American citizens in the early 20th century.
Fun fact: The name of cannabis was changed to marijuana purposely because it rhymed with the Mexican city of Tijuana, and the powers of the time wanted to associate its use with a wave of Mexican immigration.
Three decades later, the now-famous Reefer Madness movie would emerge. Initially, it was designed to warn against the dangers of marijuana. Today, it’s widely viewed as comedic satire.
Return to Prominence
It took decades for research to emerge supporting cannabis for medical purposes for perceptions of cannabis to change. Various domestic and overseas studies trickled in showing various positive health benefits of cannabis.
Between 1996 and 1999, eight U.S. states voted to support cannabis prescriptions against the conventional wisdom of the time.
While it has been a long road, countless studies have torn down the negative mythology around cannabis use and made vital discoveries about the benefits of cannabinoids. As the population has become more educated on the issue, public opinion has rapidly turned in favor of legalization.
The future of this humble plant is bright, with an unstoppable march toward legalization and widening accessibility for patients with a range of conditions.
Although there is still a long way to go, countries like Uruguay, the Netherlands, Portugal, Canada, and Thailand have taken the plunge toward decriminalizing or legalizing weed for recreational and medicinal purposes.
In the years to come, more patients with a broader range of conditions stand to benefit from the power of medical weed.
What do you think the future holds for medicinal marijuana in the U.S.?