HISTORY OF CANNABIS
The cannabis plant can be traced back 12,000 years, when it first originated in Central Asia near Mongolia.
Traces of cannabis have been discovered in ancient burial grounds in Siberia, in the tombs of Chinese nobles, on royal Egyptian mummies, and on the remains of Viking ships.
There is evidence from around the world that cannabis was used not only for industrial purposes, but also medicinal.
Some believe cannabis was one of the world’s first cultivated crops.
The ancient Chinese celebrated cannabis for its healing and medicinal powers.
According to Chinese legend, Emperor Shen Neng (2737 B.C.) was one of the first in the ancient world to prescribe cannabis tea to treat various illnesses including gout, rheumatism, malaria and poor malaria and poor memory.l.
INTRODUCTION TO INDIA
Although the Chinese were well aware of the medical uses of the plant, India is where the use of cannabis became an integral part of the people’s culture. It is referenced in the holy books known as the Vedas.
The god Shiva is said to have brought the magical plant from the Himalayas to the people of India. Shiva, one of the most revered and important gods in India, is also known as the ‘Lord of Bhang’. Bhang is a mild liquid refreshment made with cannabis, spices and milk. In the fourth book of the Vedas, bhang was referred to as one of the “five kingdoms of herbs… which release us from anxiety.”
WAY OF LIFE
For thousands of years, cannabis was incorporated into the religious, social and medical life of India.
In the 1890s, The Indian Hemp Drugs Commission stated, “It cures dysentery and sunstroke, clears phlegm, quickens digestion, sharpens appetite, makes the tongue of the lisper plain, freshens the intellect, and gives alertness to the body and gaiety to the mind.”
The Irish doctor William Brooke O’Shaughnessy introduced cannabis to modern western medicine.
Traveling to India in 1839, he came across a paper written by the Medical and Physical Society of Calcutta.
Using this as his inspiration, he began clinical trials of cannabis. He found that it was an excellent anti-convulsant.
His research led to other doctors doing trials and producing over a hundred articles in scientific journals on the various medical benefits of cannabis – rheumatism, hydro-phobia, cholera, tetanus, and menstrual cramps to name a few.
Cannabis was put into many patent medicines in the U.S. around this time.
As recently as the 1930s, demand for cannabis-based medications grew and pharmaceutical firms attempted to produce consistently reliable drugs from hemp.
At least two American companies were selling standardized extracts of cannabis for use as an analgesic, an antispasmodic and sedative.
In 1937, cannabis was effectively made illegal throughout the country. By the early 1970s, marijuana was categorized as a Schedule I drug and was listed as having no accepted medical use.
The government restricted any further medical research of cannabis and well-controlled studies were very difficult. Fortunately, this is changing.
There are now dozens of studies that document the medicinal qualities of the plant.
This study found that Hep-C patients who used cannabis in combination with their conventional medical treatment were three times more likely to have an undetectable virus level six months after the end of treatment.
Sylvestre, Diana L. a b; Clements, Barry J. b; Malibu, Yvonne b. “Cannabis use improves retention and virological outcomes in patients treated for hepatitis C.” European Journal of Gastroenterology & Hepatology. 18(10):1057-1063, October 2006.
This study demonstrates that smoked marijuana is effective in reducing HIV-related chronic ongoing neuropathic and acute pain. Neuropathy is a nerve disease, which often results in numbness, weakness, and spontaneous muscle twitching. Neuropathy is a serious medical problem with unsatisfactory treatment options. Abrams DI, Jay CA, Vizoso H, Shade SB, Reda H, Press S, Kelly ME, Rowbotham M, Petersen K. “Smoked cannabis therapy for HIV-related painful peripheral neuropathy: results of a randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial.” Abstract, IACM 3rd Conference on Cannabinoids in Medicine, September 9-10, 2005, Leiden
Researchers at the Hebrew University in Israel have demonstrated that derivatives of the cannabis plant can be effective in arresting cancerous growths in laboratory and animal tests.
Kogan, N.M., Blaquez, C., Gallily, R., Guzman, M., and Mechoulam, R. “Quinone Type Cannabinoids as AntiCancer Compounds.” Abstract, IACM 3rd Conference on Cannabinoids in Medicine, September 9-10, 2005, Leiden
GOVERNMENT CANNABIS PATENT
It’s also worth noting that while the federal government of the U.S. claim no medical uses of cannabis, they also hold a patent for cannabis as of 2001: US Patent 6630507.
From the text of the patent: “Cannabinoids have been found to have antioxidant properties, unrelated to NMDA receptor antagonism.
This new found property makes cannabinoids useful in the treatment and prophylaxis of wide variety of oxidation associated diseases, such as ischemic, age-related, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.”