The History Behind Medical Marijuana
Way back in 2737 B.C., the Emperor Shen Neng from China was prescribing marijuana-infused tea for the treatment of malaria, gout, rheumatism, and memory loss. It was because of the popularity of marijuana as a medicine that it began to spread out of Asia, across the Middle East, and then down to the African coasts. Some Hindu sects used cannabis for their religious ceremonies as well as to help relieve stress.
Now we’re going to jump ahead to the early 18th century. Many early American medical journals advertised and recommended the use of hemp roots and seeds for the treatment of medical conditions. Some of these medical conditions included incontinence, venereal disease, and inflamed skin. It was an Irish doctor that first made marijuana popular in England and America. William O’Shaughnessy made weed popular for the treatment of nausea, cholera, tetanus, and the pain associated with rheumatism. It was later in the 19th century that the attitude towards marijuana and other narcotics began to shift in another direction.
It was estimated that in the early 19th century between 2% and 5% of the entire population of the United States was unknowingly addicted to morphine. Morphine was a popular ingredient that was secretly added to a variety of popular medicines being peddled across the country. To try and combat this epidemic, the government introduced the Pure Food and Drug Act in 1906. At the time this act didn’t control marijuana, but it was the first step towards a big shift in the United States attitude towards drugs and their enforcement.
Marijuana began to face pressure from the government in the early 1900s. Many states began to list cannabis as a poison in 1906, and by the early 20s, it was outlawed in almost every state across America. By the 30s it was regulated as a drug in every state and began regulating the sale of cannabis with the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937. And later officially outlawed (medicinal usage included) with the passage of the 1970 Controlled Substances Act (CSA).
It wasn’t until the last two decades, almost a hundred years later that the government’s attitude towards marijuana began to shift back towards decriminalization. This could be for several different reasons. It could be because of overcrowding and a struggling justice system, the government looking to source new revenue funds through taxation and legalization, or because only now is the government beginning to open its eyes to the potential of medicinal marijuana and its benefits.
It was on the 19th of October 2009 that the United States Justice Department announced that the federal prosecutors wouldn’t pursue medical marijuana users and distributors that are complying with state laws. This formalized a policy which the Obama Administration had been hinting at all year. Currently, there are 29 states which have allowed medicinal marijuana, and nine states that have completely legalized recreational marijuana. That’s a big swing from an illegal substance with no recognized medicinal value only twenty years ago.
Marijuana over the last decade has been undergoing a revitalization process. What was once a medicinal herb, then an illegal controlled substance, is now considered by many as one of the most underrated medicines of the century!