The healing powers of marijuana have been discussed since the beginning of time.
Nowadays, thanks to internet and information networks, many patients in different areas of the world have access to medical marijuana to treat several different conditions.
The history that surrounds the Cannabis plant can be traced back up to 26,900 BC in Czechoslovakia, where they have found one of the oldest known objects to be associated with cannabis. This plant, even if it may seem that only recently it has been gaining notoriety, it is actually a plant that has been commonly used throughout ancient civilisations.
The principal archaeological findings that have been found are of hemp clothing, wove hemp, and hemp pottery; there have also been findings of a therapeutic use of medical marijuana where the leaves and flowers were used for intoxication and medicine; and the seeds for food and oil.
Thanks to the ancient Egyptians scrolls, recorded as far back as 2,000 B.C, there is proof that this plant was not only used for material purposes but also as a medical plant.
We have to wait until the 18th century for a first modern description of the therapeutic properties of Cannabis, that are provided by the Irish doctor W. S. O’Shaughnessy.
After graduating in Dublin in 1831, he moved to India in order to improve his studies. Here he notices benefits through the administration of therapeutic Cannabis, in a form and quantity that is different in Europe, with stronger and more satisfying medical properties.
O’Shaughnessy’s notes, on the uses of cannabis, are rich of historic details of known Sanskrit, Arabic, and Persians writers. He particularly dedicates his observations on the tetanus illness. Cannabis did not cure tetanus, but was used as a medical adjuvant in order to relieve painful symptoms.
Having examined this plant in depth, with enthusiasm, he brings the seeds and outcome of his scientific observations to England, where he names it Indian Hemp or Indica Cannabis, in order to distinguish it from the already known European fiber.
The information provided by O’Shaughnessy, fervidly spreads interest through England and then throughout Europe, for the “new” variety of Indian Hemp and the resin that can be extracted, called Hashish.
It is told that the Queen of England Victoria, based on this research, would use weed in order to alleviate menstrual pains and during her reign, it was used to cure different illnesses, like muscular spasms and rheumatism.
Throughout all these years of history, it’s exactly in the beginning of the 20th century in which hemp encounters it’s darkest age. From this era onward, a series of circumstances in history, due to distinct points of views in politics, caused a change of perception towards weed. An example can be the sudden appearance of plantations in Texas and near New Orleans, where especially Mexican immigrants, Jazz musicians and young travelers would make use of weed, causing the epidemic of “Danger of Marijuana” in the US.
Starting from 1910, a bulletin from the Department of Health Commission of New Orleans repeatedly wrote on how “marijuana is one of the most dangerous substances that has ever appeared in the area”.
It’s exactly in American that on June 14th 1937, beyond any scientific or medical reason, and with a strong opposition from the American Medical Association, that President Roosevelt signed the “Marijuana Tax Act”, which prevents the cultivation of any type of hemp, including for any medial purpose. The law didn’t in any way directly prohibit the consumption, commerce or the cultivation of the plant, but it simply made any business commerce impossible due to the high tax imposed on the plant and on it’s chemical components.
This is how the Commerce Prohibition period begins:
The term “Marijuana” or “Marihuana”, in the exception of referring to a narcotic or an illegal drug, almost completely replaces the term Cannabis within the spoken day to day language. For more than twenty years Cannabis will be demonized as an abusive and dangerous substance, of which all resources and energies must be invested towards eradicating it.
The medical field regained interest in Cannabis at the beginning of the early 70s, following the discovery of the Cannabinoid (CBD) in 1964, found by the research team of Raphael Mechoulam.
Later on they were also able to discover ∆-9 tetraidrocannabinoid (THC), the principal psychoactive component of Marijuana.
In these years, Lester Grinspoon, professor of psychiatry at the University of Harvard, might of had the leading role of reintroducing weed within Medicine. In 1967 Prof. Grinspoon dedicated his sabbatical year on the research of Cannabis. His original purpose was to provide scientific proof regarding the spread out worry of the increasing number of young adults that would use Cannabis.
His scientific studies only convinced him that the current stance on the plant, and consequently the judgement of the general public, were based on misinformation, if not actual lies and manipulations.
In 1971 he gathered up his research in one book, publishing “Marihuana reconsidered”, which still to this day can be considered as a complete introduction on the argument.
And it was just like this that in 1971 the United Nations recognized the distinct difference between substances that are classified as narcotics and that are prohibited, even in merit of therapeutic medicine.
Regarding the Political and Regulatory point of view, there was only a turning point in 1977, after the British Medical Association published their medical studies of what they had identified as specific therapeutic possibilities. The 5th of November in 1998 the American voters of Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, Oregon and Washington, voted on a referendum that approved the therapeutic use of merijuana for those who were suffering from cancer and AIDS.
A couple of days later, in Europe, the Science and Technology Committee of the British Lord’s Chamber, published a report that promoted the therapeutic use of the cannabis derivatives, by making a change in the law that was in effect.
With only the distance of a few months the Institute of Medicine of National Academy of Sciences USA published a new study “Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base”, that formulate an analogical recommendation.