Cannabis Is, and Always Has Been, A Medicine
On our cannabis farm tours we don’t just show people a fun time in beautiful California cannabis country, but we also teach weed tourists everything about cannabis: how it’s grown, its safe and proper usage, the origin of the term 420, terms like dabbing, cannabinoids, and terpenes, the difference between indica and sativa and ruderalis, and the history of cannabis.
When you learn about cannabis history on a pot tour or anywhere else, one thing becomes abundantly clear – cannabis is, and always has been, a medicine.
The very first documentation we have of medical cannabis is in the Chinese Materia Medica, the earliest existing recorded pharmacopeia in human history, circa 2737 BCE, credited to the mythic ancient Chinese Emperor, Shennong, father of Chinese medicine, acupuncture, and agriculture. Chinese physicians prescribed cannabis for rheumatism, gout, malaria, and for aiding poor memory. That last one may sound odd, given cannabis’ well known effect of short term memory loss, but recent medical studies have found that several terpenes produced by certain strains of cannabis have positive effects on the brain. The terpene Borneol has been found to be neuroprotective. The terpene Terpineol enhances cognitive function. The terpenes Carene and Eucalyptol have shown promise in medical research as Alsheimers treatments, and the terpene Pinene actually enhances memory.
For our comprehensive article on cannabis terpenes, their usage in industry and medicine, and which common cannabis strains each can be found in, click here.
From China, cannabis made its way into ancient India, and Vedic medicine, where it was considered one of the five sacred plants. The word ganja comes from ancient Sanskrit.
Doctors in ancient Egypt prescribed cannabis for inflammation and pain relief, as well as for ailments of the eye. Medical cannabis was common in Egypt from ancient times all the way into the 1800s.
Cannabis was a component of the sacred Jewish anointing oil that Jesus used to heal the sick. Tenth century Jewish philosopher Maimonides mentioned cannabis as an effective treatment for colds and ear problems, as well as a useful anesthetic, in his writings. To this day Israel is a global leader in medical cannabis research.
In ancient Greece and Rome cannabis was used as both a human and a veterinary medicine. In humans, the Ancient Greeks prescribed cannabis for inflammation, edema, earaches, tumors, corns, gout, and to treat burns. In veterinary medicine, the ancient Romans used cannabis to treat wounds, back pain, and as a dewormer for their horses.
In England in 1621, Oxford scholar Robert Berton prescribed cannabis for depression in his book, The Anatomy of Melancholy, and Nicholas Culpepper wrote in his book, The English Physician, that cannabis, “allayeth inflammations in the head, eases the pains of the gout, knots in the joynts, and the pains of the sinews and hips”.
Cannabis was added to the United States Pharmacopeia, the official compendium in The United States for all prescription and over the counter drugs, in 1850. The United States Pharmacopeia prescribed cannabis as a treatment for anthrax, cholera, convulsive disorders, dysentery, gout, incontinence, insanity, leprosy, menstrual and uterine bleeding, neuralgia, rabies, tetanus, tonsillitis, typhus, and to combat both alcoholism and opiate addiction, among many other prescribed uses. Altogether, the United States Pharmacopeia listed over 100 uses for medical cannabis. In the 19th century cannabis medications were widely available in apothecaries and general stores.
In 1943 cannabis was removed from the United States Pharmacopeia – not by doctors, but by Congress as part of the reefer madness propaganda movement financed by big oil, and their minister of anti weed propaganda, Harry J. Anslinger, to the strong objections of the American Medical Association.
Cannabis was a medication regularly prescribed by doctors in the United States until history’s biggest oil baron, John D. Rockefeller took over medical schools, and taught that any drugs that were not his petrochemical derived medications were to be viewed as quackery by all doctors under pain of losing their license to practice medicine. Most MDs to this day won’t prescribe cannabis, even in states where medical cannabis is legal, for precisely this reason.
And then, in 1971 Congress passed The Controlled Substances Act, which classifies marijuana as a Schedule 1 Drug, defined as a drug that has no accepted medical use. After literally thousands of years of evidence that cannabis absolutely is efficacious for many medical uses, and has been accepted by medical practitioners in every corner of the globe, and published in every pharmacopeia that ever existed across the world and across the centuries, including our own.
In recent years medical studies conducted by prestigious hospitals and universities everywhere have averred the medical efficacy of cannabis, but it’s nothing new. We’ve known about the efficacy of cannabis all throughout human history.
So what can be done to right this wrong?
If you’re a medical professional, there are several organizations in the medical community fighting to reintroduce cannabis medication back into medical practice. If you’re a doctor or a nurse, The Cannabis Nurses Network provides education and advocacy for medical professionals and patients.
If you’re not a medical professional GET A PRESCRIPTION FOR MEDICAL CANNABIS!
Even if you live in a state where adult cannabis use is legal, (advocates prefer the term “adult use cannabis” to “recreational cannabis” because the latter term trivializes the use of this healing herb) you should get a prescription for medical cannabis if you can.
Many people self medicate for all sorts of reasons, including seemingly simple things like help sleeping and stress reduction. Stress affects the mental and physical health of millions of Americans, and unchecked, it can lead to chronic conditions like anxiety, depression, weight gain, heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke. We tend to minimize stress, but make no mistake, stress is a killer, and cannabis is an effective medication for stress.
Self medication with cannabis is safe, There is no such thing as a lethal dose of cannabis. But the enemies of cannabis often trivialize and demonize adults who use cannabis as burnouts or stoners to falsely label cannabis as a harmful narcotic that turns otherwise productive people into wastrels and shiftless layabouts. Getting a prescription helps to legitimize the use of this unquestionably legitimate medication.
Often a cannabis prescription can save you tax on your cannabis purchases, and in some jurisdictions you can purchase greater quantities of cannabis or stronger cannabis, only with a prescription.
We have nearly a century of anti cannabis propaganda to overcome, created by greedy self interested gilded age industrialists and schemers who, for a time, successfully demonized and criminalized a medicine that has been a boon to mankind since the dawn of civilization.
The time is long overdue to take this useful and efficacious medicine off the list of Schedule 1 drugs, cover it in mainstream healthcare insurance plans, allow all doctors to prescribe it, legalize it completely, and restore cannabis to its rightful place in the United States Pharmacopeia.