The History of Cannabis

Cannabis Is Not New!

Cannabis is one of the 50 "fundamental herbs" in Traditional Chinese Medicine and is prescribed to treat diverse indications. FP Smith writes in Chinese Materia Medica: Vegetable Kingdom:

Every part of the hemp plant is used in medicine ... The flowers are recommended for different forms of disease, in menstrual disorders, and in wounds. They are prescribed in nervous disorders, especially those marked by local anesthesia. The seeds are considered to be tonic, alternative [restorative], laxative, emmenagogue, diuretic, anthelmintic, and corrective. They are prescribed internally in fluxes, post-partum difficulties, aconite poisoning, vermillion poisoning, constipation, and obstinate vomiting. Externally they are used for eruptions, ulcers, favus, wounds, and falling of the hair.

In 2007, a late Neothilic grave attributed to the Beaker Culture(found near Hattermerbroek,(NL), Gelderland; dated 2459-2203 BCE) was found containing an unusually large concentration of pollen. After five years of careful investigation, this pollen was concluded to be mostly cannabis along with a smaller amount of meadowsweet. Due to the fever-reducing properties of meadowsweet, the archeologists speculated that the person in the grave had likely been very ill, in which case the cannabis would have served as a painkiller.

Ancient Egypt

The Ebers Papyrus (c. 1550 BC) from Ancient Egypt has a prescription for medical marijuana applied directly for inflammation.

The Ebers Papyrus (c. 1550 BC) from Ancient Egypt describes medical cannabis. Other ancient Egyptian papyri that mention medical cannabis are the Ramesseum III Papyrus (1700 BC), the Berlin Papyrus (1300 BC) and the Chester Beatty Medical Papyrus VI (1300 BC). The ancient Egyptians used hemp (cannabis) in suppositories for relieving the pain of hemorrhoids. Around 2,000 BCE, the ancient Egyptians used cannabis to treat sore eyes. The Egyptologist Lise Manniche notes the reference to "plant medical cannabis" in several Egyptian texts, one of which dates back to the eighteenth century BCE.

Ancient Greece

The Ancient Greeks used cannabis not only for human medicine but also in veterinary medicine to dress wounds and sores on their horses.

The Ancient Greeks used cannabis to dress wounds and sores on their horses. In humans, dried leaves of cannabis were used to treat nose bleeds, and cannabis seeds were used to expel tapeworms. The most frequently described use of cannabis in humans was too steep green seeds of cannabis in either water or wine, later taking the seeds out and using the warm extract to treat inflammation and pain resulting from obstruction of the ear.

Modern History

An advertisement for Maltos-Cannabis, a Scandinavian cannabis-based drink popular in the early 20th century.

At the turn of the 20th century the Scandinavian maltose- and cannabis-based drink Maltos-Cannabis was widely available in Denmark and Norway. Promoted as "an excellent lunch drink, especially for children and young people", the product had won a prize at the Exposition Internationale d'Anvers in 1894. A Swedish encyclopedia from 1912 claim that European hemp, the raw material for Maltos-Sugar, almost lacked the narcotic effect that is typical for Indian hemp and that products from Indian hemp were abandoned by modern science for medical use. Maltos-Cannabis was promoted with text about its content of maltose sugar.

An advertisement for cannabis Americana distributed by a pharmacist in New York in 1917

Later in the century, researchers investigating methods of detecting cannabis intoxication discovered that smoking the drug reduced intraocular pressure. In 1955 the antibacterial effects were described at the Palacký University of Olomouc. Since 1971 Lumír Ondřej Hanuš was growing cannabis for his scientific research on two large fields in authority of the University. The marijuana extracts were then used at the University hospital as a cure for aphthae and haze. In

Later, in the 1970s, a synthetic version of THC was produced and approved for use in the United States as the drug Marinol. It was delivered as a capsule, to be swallowed. Patients complained that violent nausea associated with chemotherapy made swallowing capsules difficult. Further, along with ingested cannabis, capsules are harder to dose-titrate accurately than smoked cannabis because their onset of action is so much slower. Smoking has remained the route of choice for many patients because its onset of action provides almost immediate relief from symptoms and because that fast onset greatly simplifies titration. For these reasons, and because of the difficulties arising from the way cannabinoids are metabolized after being ingested, oral dosing is probably the least satisfactory route for cannabis administration. Relatedly, some studies have indicated that at least some of the beneficial effects that cannabis can provide may derive from synergy among the multiplicity of cannabinoids and other chemicals present in the dried plant material.

Among the more than 108,000 persons in Colorado who in 2012 had received a certificate to use marijuana for medical purposes, 94% said that severe pain was the reason for the requested certificate, followed by 3% for cancer and 1% for HIV/Aids. The typical card holder was a 41-year-old male. Twelve doctors had issued 50% of the certificates. Opponents of the card system claim that most cardholders are drug abusers who are faking or exaggerating their illnesses; three-fourths male patients are not the normal pattern for pain patients, it is the normal pattern for drug addicts, claim the critics. After the implementation of medical cannabis in Colorado has also the past 30-day use of marijuana by teens increased significantly compared with the average in the U.S. (Prescription to teens is not allowed in Colorado).