Marijuana has enriched the lives of countless people around the world. From ancient civilizations to the modern-day, it has been part of society for thousands of years. And there are no signs it’s going anywhere any time soon.
Today, an abundance of evidence is available to show the positive effects marijuana can have on various different ailments. Despite this fact, marijuana is still not legal in many states, even for medicinal purposes.
Today we’re taking a look at the fascinating history of medical marijuana in the US and beyond. We’ll also see where the future of medical marijuana is headed, too.
From its role in ancient rituals to modern medicine and marijuana’s first flirtation. The history of medical marijuana is a fascinating journey through time and culture.
Read on to learn when a brief history of medical marijuana.
Medical Marijuana: Ancient Applications
There is evidence of marijuana being used for medicinal purposes as far back as 2900 BC. That’s almost 5000 years ago. The first written account of marijuana’s healing properties can be traced back to China. Here, several prominent emperors made reference to medical uses for marijuana.
Some time later, the Egyptians used marijuana for conditions such as inflammation and glaucoma. Traces of cannabis pollen were found on the mummified remains of King Ramses II.
Marijuana was also used by ancient civilizations in India, Greece, and the Middle-East. Different societies had different uses for the plant. Some used it for earaches and inflammation, others to induce sleep, and treat gout.
One Chinese text, Shennong Ben Cao Jing, which dates back to sometime around 1 AD offers over 100 possible applications for marijuana. These include rheumatism and absentmindedness.
As trade routes were established and countries began to explore a wider world they knew little about, marijuana began to appear in different countries, including, in the 1600s, the USA.
Marijuana first arrived in America in 1611. It was brought over by the Jamestown Settlers, who comprised the first permanent English settlement in America.
A History of Medical Marijuana in the USA
America’s long and complex history with medical marijuana begins with one of its founding fathers: George Washington. Washington wrote in his diary about cultivating hemp. His entries make mention of his interest in the potential medical uses for the plant.
Between 1800 and 1850, many countries began exploring modern medical uses for marijuana. It gradually became a mainstream medicine.
An Irish doctor named William O’Shaughnessy was a driving force in the popularization of marijuana among western doctors. Having served as an army doctor in India, he promoted its use for the treatment of muscle spasms and menstrual cramps.
In 1850, marijuana was added for the first time to the US Pharmacopeia, an official list of all over-the-counter and prescription medicines in America. It would soon become a widely used remedy for many ailments across the US.
Up until this point, attitudes toward marijuana in the US were largely positive. Around the turn of the century, however, this all began to change.
Widespread morphine addiction caused the US government to tighten regulations around several substances, including marijuana. The passing of the Pure Food and Drugs Act in 1906 marked a change in how certain substances, such as cocaine, morphine, and marijuana were viewed.
A few years later in 1914, The Harrison Act further tightened government control around certain substances. It also defined the use of drugs as a crime.
By this time, five states had already outlawed cannabis. Another 18 would follow suit by 1937, when the Marijuana Tax Act was first proposed.
This act officially made the possession and sale of marijuana illegal in the US. It could still be used for medical purposes, but the act stated any doctors or pharmacists who prescribed or dispensed marijuana must register with the authorities and pay an annual tax to do so.
This, unsurprisingly, lead to a sharp decline in the prescription of marijuana in the US. Then, in 1942, marijuana was officially removed from the US Pharmacopeia.
In the 1950s and 1960s, laws and punishments surrounding marijuana continued to tighten. In 1970, President Nixon signed the Controlled Substance Act into law. This act classified marijuana as a Schedule 1 narcotic, meaning it had no medical value whatsoever and was on a par with the likes of heroin and ecstasy in terms of how dangerous it was.
Around the 1970s, people once again began to recognize the legitimacy of medicinal marijuana. Here, a movement began to decriminalize it.
Scientific research began to be carried out into its uses. A very limited amount of patients with very specific ailments were allowed to use marijuana under the Compassionate Use Program.
In 1996, California became the first state to legalize medical marijuana. Alaska, Oregon, Washington, and Maine all followed suit in the years following.
The 2000s and Beyond
From then until now, marijuana’s profile has continued to become increasingly more positive.
Some notable milestones that occurred in this period: the American Medical Association officially softened its stance on medical marijuana. The US Government removed obstacles to marijuana research on a federal level. And the FDA approved its first marijuana-based drug.
Today, the use of medical marijuana is legal in 36 states across the US and almost 50 countries around the world.
The Future of Medical Marijuana
Studies are taking place on the use of marijuana for many different ailments.
Research has been carried out into its use for the treatment of symptoms of Altzheimers, Dementia, Epilepsy, Chron’s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, and many other conditions.
The use of CBD for the treatment of anxiety and PTSD is now so mainstream it’s been endorsed by a number of celebrities and high-profile doctors.
Originally administered mainly through tinctures, medical marijuana can today be consumed in a number of different ways.
It can be taken topically, through the use of creams or oils. It can be smoked, either in cigarette form or with the aid of a tool such as a bong, vape, or dab rig. It can also be ingested in edible form.
Today, the different means of ingesting marijuana are as diverse and varied as the ailments it treats.
Marijuana: Past, Present, and Future
Medical marijuana is still seen by some as a controversial topic. Hopefully, this won’t be the case forever. More and more lawmakers are beginning to see the benefits of legalizing marijuana for medicinal purposes. Hopefully, with changes in the law, changes in attitudes will follow.
Through this history, we can clearly see how far the cause has come, and how far it has left to go. Hopefully, the groundbreaking research carried out by scientists and the tireless campaigning of advocates will continue to affect needed change in this area.
To learn more about some of the other ways marijuana can be used for good, check out our CBD section.
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