Brief History of Medical Marijuana
Cannabis has been used medically for over 5000 years and physicians in the United States were prescribing cannabis as early as 1850 for treating ailments such as nerve pain, alcoholism, opiate addiction, and seizures. Marijuana was removed from the list of prescribed medications in 1942 before it was completely banned for medicinal use by the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) in 1970. There has been a clear resurgence in interest in cannabis as medicine with 29 states and the District of Columbia having passed laws legalizing medical marijuana.
Cannabis, or marijuana, is a unique plant that has 2 different species – sativa and indica. Marijuana has multiple uses including medicinal, intoxicating, and industrial. Cannabis has been used in all three capacities for thousands of years and in all the early civilizations. Its use was first recorded by Chinese Emperor Fu Hsi. It is possible that cannabis oil was used as an anointing oil in biblical times and was used as medicine by Ancient Egyptians, Romans, and Greeks.
Cannabis has several uses including medicinal, intoxicating, and industrial
The cannabis plant is an annual plant, meaning that it completes its life cycle within 1 year and dies. Mature female plants contain more active cannabinoids than male plants, and it is for this reason that only female plants are harvested for medicine. The cannabis plants’ life cycle consists of 3 stages: 1) seeds and seedling, 2) vegetative or growth stage, and 3) flowering stage where the plant is harvested. The seedling stage lasts 2 – 3 weeks after which the vegetative stage begins. Cannabis plants remain in the vegetative stage until hours of darkness exceed 12 hours which signals to the plant that its life cycle is about to end. It is during the flowering stage that female plants are harvested, dried, and cured.
The active ingredients in marijuana are called cannabinoids, and as mentioned above are more plentiful in female plants. There are over one hundred different types, but tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) are the most common and most potent. These 2 chemicals have distinct effects on the body and work alone or in concert to produce beneficial effects. THC is the chemical in marijuana responsible for the psychoactive effect or high and increases the appetite. CBD does not produce a high but produces other potent effects such as appetite suppression, anti-seizure effects, and pain relief.