The History of Medical Cannabis

The History of Medical Cannabis


Photo: Arizona Capitol Times


While the general scientific consensus states that drugs are bad for you, to say the same of cannabis would be simply untrue. The medical uses associated with cannabis have long been documented, but only in recent years has acceptance become widespread. As the legalization of medical marijuana continues to gain traction across the United States and other territories, it’s become clear that patients dealing with medical conditions are finding relief in cannabis, shunning chemically manufactured drugs that can sometimes do more harm than good. Often cheaper, safer and more effective that current medicines on the market, cannabis’s benefits are more noted now than ever, but where did it all begin?

Throughout the years, a growing number of studies exploring the effects of medical marijuana have turned up astounding amounts of evidence proving cannabis’s successful treatment of a wide variety of ailments. Marijuana’s roots in the medicinal realm date back to 2737 B.C., when Chinese Emperor Shen Neng prescribed marijuana tea for ailments such as rheumatism, gout and malaria. Word of cannabis’ healing powers soon spread across Asia and surrounding civilizations, where the drug was found to alleviate far more than previously suspected.


Dr. William O’Shaughnessy of Ireland first introduced marijuana’s medical uses throughout England in America. By the end of the 18th century, some early editions of American medical journals documented the benefits of hemp seeds and roots in treating venereal disease, inflamed skin and incontinence, to name a few.


Photo: The Daily Chronic


Over the past two decades alone, a growing number of states have allowed the use of medical marijuana, beginning with California in 1996. Acceptance has reached an all-time high, with the overwhelming majority of Americans now in favor of the use of medical marijuana. Today, 23 U.S. states allow it, which may be due, in part, to the fact that the media has explored a number of cases in which children and adults experience relief from their symptoms with marijuana alone. Most notably, cannabis has been highly effective in treating neurological conditions such as epilepsy. It is currently a suitable treatment for common conditions such as insomnia, anxiety, muscular pain and many others.


Opponents of legalized medical marijuana have long touted the claim that legalizing the drug would encourage underage use, a theory that has recently been debunked. A study published in the International Journal of Drug Policy includes a Columbia University report concluding that there is “no evidence of a differential increase in past-month marijuana use in youth” tied to state medical marijuana legalization. With the issue of legalized marijuana increasingly appearing on state ballots across the nation, the prognosis of widespread legalized medical cannabis is looking good.