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History of Cannabis

Cannabis or marijuana has been used by humans for thousands of years. The earliest documented association of marijuana with humans appears to be from 27,600 BCE in Czechoslovakia. Starting about 3000 BCE, Chinese Emperors played a key role in the medicinal use of marijuana for gout, malaria and rheumatism. This medicinal use spread to Asia, Middle East and Africa. The Old Testament talks about using marijuana. Physicians used marijuana for practically all ailments with varied success. By the late 18th century American medical journals started to recommend hemp seeds and roots for a variety of diseases. An Irish doctor practicing in India learned the use of marijuana for rheumatism, cholera, rabies and tetanus and popularized it in UK and America. At the end of the 19th century, it was deemed necessary to reduce the patients addicted to morphine and to switch them to a more benign agent. This led to the creation of FDA in 1906. Marijuana was defined as a drug in 1914 in USA. BY 1937, 23 states outlawed marijuana as illegal for a variety of reasons, including Federal Marijuana tax act, which made the use of non-medical marijuana illegal. The research on medical marijuana switched to Israel in the 1960s and the main active ingredient was identified in 1964 and was found to be THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol). Subsequently, Cannabiodiol (CBD) was found to be the agent offering most help for spasticity, seizures, anxiety and psychosis. The low-THC marijuana is meant to give patient more of CBD and less of THC. Some evidence points to higher efficacy when THC:CBD are used in 1:1 ratio.

Cannabis and hemp are two terms that are often confused. Cannabis or marijuana comes from Cannabis Sativa that is bred for its potent glands to yield high quantities of THC. While hemp is a type of Cannabis Sativa which is grown for oils, fiber and topical ointments and much lower THC.

In 1996, California became the first state to legalize medical marijuana. Florida voters also legalized medical marijuana for compassionate use in November 2016 elections and became the 27th state to do so. It is important to remember that as of June 26, 2017, medical marijuana is a schedule I drug at the federal level, with no known benefit and considered highly addictive according to the FDA classification of controlled substances. High quality evidence based research pertaining to medical marijuana is lacking to the present date. However, a systematic review and Meta-Analysis in 2015 from Bristol, England found that most studies show a trend toward improvement of symptoms but the level of confidence did not reach statistical significance, meaning that the evidence was not conclusive. It is noteworthy that out of 79 studies, only 2 were conducted on patients using the actual marijuana plants. It is possible that the combination of the many active compounds in the marijuana plant may offer more beneficial properties than the extracted agents. The adverse effects reported in 62 studies included dry mouth, dizziness, nausea, sleepiness, euphoria or feelings of happiness, disorientation, nausea/ vomiting, loss of coordination and hallucinations. The results of this meta-analysis support the use of marijuana in chronic pain, spasticity, and nausea/ vomiting associated with chemotherapy, to gain weight in patients suffering from HIV/ AIDS, sleep disorders and Tourette’s syndrome.

It is noteworthy that Marinol (generic Dronabinol) is an isomer of THC which was approved for marketing in USA 1985 for nausea and vomiting related to cancer chemotherapy and later on for weight gain in HIV/ AIDS. Proponents of the use of medical marijuana despite a lack of proven efficacy cite that half of all medical therapies currently in use by the medical profession have no scientifically proven evidence and were never approved by the FDA.