Marijuana is, of course, a hot topic in American culture today. Controversy and disinformation are abound.
As of July 2015, 23 states had enacted laws to legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes. But America is not the first country to discover its many uses.
As far back as 2700 BC, Chinese Emperor Shen Nung (known as the father of Chinese medicine), was said to have discovered the healing powers of marijuana along with ginseng and ephedra. In the 15th century BC, we find the earliest mention of cannabis for the purpose of healing in Chinese Pharmacopoeia, Rh-Ya.
Some say Moses made a holy oil (Exodus 30:22-23) using, in part, cannabis. Cannabis pollen was also found on the mummy of Ramesses II, who died in 1213 BC. In addition, prescriptions for cannabis in Ancient Egypt were common and used to treat glaucoma and inflammation.
Moving closer to modern times, we see that even the Jamestown settlers brought the marijuana plant to North America in 1611. In 1799, Napoleon’s army brought cannabis from Egypt back to France, and Queen Victoria herself was said to have used the plant for menstrual pains in the early 1840s.
By the 19th century, marijuana was seen in mainstream medicine in the West. French doctor Jacques-Joseph Moreau noted that cannabis was helpful for insomnia, headaches and encouraging appetites.
In 1850, the United States Pharmacopeia (the standards committee for prescription and over-the-counter medicine) listed cannabis as a treatment for a number of different conditions, including rabies, alcoholism, tetanus, gout, uterine bleeding, leprosy, opiate addiction, anthrax, neuralgia and more. Patented marijuana tinctures were sold.
The use of medicinal cannabis was common and accepted until Congress introduced the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937, where both the therapeutic and recreational use of cannabis was prohibited.
The Controlled Substances Act of 1970 classified the organic compounds in cannabis (cannabinoids) as a Schedule 1 drug along with other such known substances as heroin. Interestingly enough, the Controlled Substances Act claims there is a high potential of abuse of cannabis and no current accepted medical use. This is despite thousands of years of the plant being used to successfully treat and manage a myriad of medical conditions.
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What You Can Do Regarding Home Cultivation and Use
Do you want to grow your own? Study thoroughly your state laws, and speak with doctors, and consult with an attorney. States limit how much you can grow.
No matter which camp you fall into – pro or con — science reveals much and is most likely the reason for the strong growing trend of acceptance at the state level of medical marijuana. It also should be noted that many medicinal treatments don’t involve smoking it but instead using it in, for example, an oil.
In 2004, Providence Journal published an article titled Myths about medical marijuana where Joycelyn Elders, MD, and former US Surgeon General wrote the following:
“The evidence is overwhelming that marijuana can relieve certain types of pain, nausea, vomiting and other symptoms caused by such illnesses as multiple sclerosis, cancer and AIDS — or by the harsh drugs sometimes used to treat them. And it can do so with remarkable safety. Indeed, marijuana is less toxic than many of the drugs that physicians prescribe every day.”
Dr. Sanjay Gupta, a neurosurgeon, medical professor and winner of an Emmy Award as chief medical correspondent for CNN, once wrote a TIME magazine article against medicinal marijuana but changed his mind and now says that the public has been misled for over 70 years regarding medicinal marijuana and that there are legitimate therapeutic values and a very low risk of abuse.
Following are some of the medicinal uses for marijuana:
Some of the noted therapeutic values of medicinal marijuana backed by science include:
1. Treats glaucoma – The National Eye Institute says that marijuana can treat and prevent glaucoma by decreasing the pressure in the eye.
2. Controls epileptic seizures – A 2003 study published in the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics demonstrated that marijuana use can prevent epileptic seizures. According to the study, marijuana rid rats of epileptic seizures for 10 hours.
3. Controls the spread of cancer – The California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco says that cannabidiol stops cancer by turning off a gene called Id-1. This study was published in the journal Molecular Cancer Therapeutics. Gupta noted that there have been studies in the US, Spain and Israel that point toward compounds in cannabis that could destroy cancer cells.
4. Slows the progression of Alzheimer’s – Kim Janda of the Sripps Research Institute led a study indicating that marijuana may slow the advancement of Alzheimer’s. The 2006 study was published in the Journal Molecular Pharmaceutics and found that THC (active ingredient in marijuana) slows down the formation of amyloid plaques (that kills brain cells and causes Alzheimer’s) by blocking the enzyme in the brain that creates them.
5. Controls inflammatory bowel disease – People who suffer with inflammatory bowel disease such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease could benefit from medicinal marijuana. A study in Israel showed that marijuana reduced the symptoms of Crohn’s disease in 10 out of 11 patients and even caused the remission of the disease in five of these patients.
6. Boosts metabolism – A 2013 study published in the American Journal of Medicine noted that people who smoked marijuana were skinner than the average person and had a healthier metabolism and response to sugar, even though they may eat more because of munchies.
7. Helps with arthritis pain – Cannabis can reduce the pain and inflammation that accompanies rheumatoid arthritis. Research from several hospitals found that Sativex, a cannabinoid-based pain-relieving medicine, helped patients with pain, inflammation and sleep over a two-week period when compared to a placebo.
These are just a few of the many scientifically backed therapeutic benefits of marijuana. It may not be long before federal regulations relax and the classification of this plant is revised.
Do you support marijuana legalization for medicinal purposes? Share your thoughts in the section below: