What is Medical Cannabis? A Quick Guide to Marijuana as Medicine

Marijuana as Medicine

The use of medical cannabis and its effects show up as early as 2700 B.C. in China, where it was described in pharmacopoeias. The ancient Greeks and Egyptians also used the marijuana plant for different illnesses. 

In 1484, Pope Innocent VIII banned hashish. In the 20th century, the Rastafarian religious movement incorporated smoking marijuana into the faith as a means of spiritual discovery.

Medical Cannabis Today

Marijuana’s positive attributes and negative consequences are currently under intense debate within the political hemisphere. 

Since the 1990s, more than a dozen states have legalized marijuana possession for medical purposes. Usually, people in these states must get a doctor’s prescription, carry medical marijuana identification cards or permits, and participate in a state registry to use marijuana medicinally. 

Though marijuana is legal at some state levels it remains illegal under federal law. 

The Federal government has maintained marijuana’s status as a Schedule I controlled substance, which means the drug has a high potential for abuse.

Why Do Some People and States Consider Marijuana to Be Medicine?

Some of the ingredients in cannabis, such as THC and cannabinoids have medicinal effects. And some people get relief from symptoms of their illnesses by smoking marijuana. 

This, however, does not mean that it is recognized as medicine by the United States Federal government.  Cannabis has not gone through the FDA approval process to show that its benefits outweigh its risks.

Interesting Facts about the History Medical Cannabis

The marijuana plant was cultivated in China for therapy (and recreation) over 4,700 years ago.

More than 20 prescription medicines containing cannabis were sold in U.S. pharmacies at the turn of the 20th century. 

Marijuana-based medications were commonly available until 1942, when cannabis was stricken from the U.S. Pharmacopeia, the official list of drugs considered effective and therefore legal for consumption. From 1937 to 1942 the federal government collected a tax of $1 per ounce for such drugs.

More than 20,000 studies on marijuana and its components have been published, according to the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, an advocacy group. 

Of these, around 100 have looked into marijuana’s therapeutic value on human subjects.

Fourteen states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical cannabis: Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington

Federal law prohibits physicians from prescribing or otherwise actively supplying patients with the drug. But in 2002 the United States Supreme Court backed an appellate court ruling that physicians who discuss it with patients, or provide oral or written recommendations, are protected.

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