Brief History of the Medical use of Marijuana

Full historical time-line can be found here. The following are some interesting events in the history of Medical Marijuana.

2000 BC: In Egypt, cannabis is used to treat sore eyes. [-1972 National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse – Appendix, Chapter One, Part I ]

1400 BC: A thriving Bronze Age drug trade supplied hashish (cannabis) and opium to ancient cultures throughout the eastern Mediterranean as balm for the pain of childbirth and disease, proving a sophisticated knowledge of medicines dating back thousands of years. [-Aug. 8, 2002 Associated Press report of conference on DNA and archaeology in Israel.]

Pre 1000 BC: Cannabis use begins in India to overcome hunger and thirst by the religious mendicants. [-1972 National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse – Appendix, Chapter One, Part I]

1000 BC: Bhang, a cannabis preparation (a drink, generally mixed with milk) is used as an anesthetic and anti-phlegmatic in India.

Cannabis begins to be used in India to treat a wide variety of human maladies. The drug is still highly regarded and used by some medical practitioners in India. [-1972 National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse – Appendix, Chapter One, Part I]

500 BC: Gautama Buddha is said to have survived by eating only cannabis seeds. [-2002 UK Cannabis Campaigners’ Guide]

200 BC: In ancient Greece, cannabis is used as a remedy for earache, edema, and inflammation. [-1972 National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse – Appendix, Chapter One, Part I]

70 BC: Roman Emperor Nero’s surgeon, Dioscorides, praises cannabis for making the stoutest cords and for its medicinal properties. [-2002 UK Cannabis Campaigners’ Guide.]

200 AD: A Chinese physician, Hoa-Tho, prescribes cannabis as an analgesic in surgical procedures. [-1972 National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse – Appendix, Chapter One, Part I.]

1621: The medical book The Anatomy of Melancholy by English clergyman Robert Burton claims cannabis is a treatment for depression. [-2002 UK Cannabis Campaigners’ Guide.]

pre-1700: Cannabis is used in Africa to restore appetite and to relieve pain of hemorrhoids. Its antiseptic uses are also known to certain African tribes. Various other uses, in a number of African countries, include the treatment of tetanus, hydrophobia, delirium tremens, infantile convulsions, neuralgia, cholera, menorrhagia, rheumatism, hay fever, asthma, skin diseases, and protracted labor during childbirth. [-1972 National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse.]

1799: Napoleon’s army returns from Egypt with knowledge (and samples) of cannabis. The scientific members of Napoleon’s forces are interested in the drug’s pain relieving and sedative effects. [-1972 National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse – Appendix, Chapter One, Part I.]

1839: William O’Shaughnessy, an Irishman working in the service of the British in India, writes the first modern English medical article on cannabis. [-1972 National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse – Appendix, Chapter One, Part I.]

1842: O’Shaughnessy reports that tetanus could be arrested and cured when treated with extra large doses of cannabis. [-1972 National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse – Appendix, Chapter One, Part I.]

Various marijuana and hashish extracts are the first, second or third most prescribed medicines in the United States from 1842 until the 1890s. [-Nov. 2000 Jack Herer The Emperor Wears No Clothes.]

1854: The US Dispensary of 1854 lists cannabis compounds as suggested remedies for a multitude of medical problems, including neuralgia, depression, hemorrhage, pain relief and muscle spasm. [-1999 Saul Rubin Offbeat Marijuana.]

1857: Smith Brothers of Edinburgh market cannabis indica extracts. -[2002 UK Cannabis Campaigners’ Guide.]

1893-94: India establishes the India Hemp Commission to examine the question of cannabis use in India. The Commission reports the use of cannabis as an analgesic, a restorer of energy, a hemostat, an ecbolic, and an anti-diarrhetic. Cannabis is also mentioned in the report as an aid in treating hay fever, cholera, dysentery, gonorrhea, diabetes, impotence, urinary incontinence, testicular swelling, granulation of open sores, and chronic ulcers. Other beneficial effects attributed to cannabis are prevention of insomnia, relief of anxiety, protection against cholera, alleviation of hunger and as an aid to concentration of attention. [-1972 National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse – Appendix, Chapter One, Part I.]

1898: Sir William Osler, professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins and later Regius Professor of Medicine at the University of Oxford, stated in his 1898 discussion of migraine headaches that marijuana “is probably the most satisfactory remedy” for that condition. [-2002 The Schaffer Online Library of Drug Policy]

1947: Dr. Douthwaite reports using cannabis hashish “for reducing of anxiety and tension in patients with duodenal ulcer.” [-1972 National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse.]

1949: Researchers JP Davis and HH Ramsey report (Fed. Proc. Am. Soc. Exp. Biol. 8: 284) that a clinical trial of five institutionalized epileptic children found that: “Three children – responded at least as well as to previous therapy. Fourth child – almost completely seizure free. Fifth child – entirely seizure free.” Their conclusion was that “the cannabinols herein reported deserve further trial in non-institutionalized epileptics.” [-1972 National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse.]

1952: Dr. J. Kapelikovi, in his report “Antibacterial Action of Cannabis Indica,” concludes that “alcohol extract of cannabis is bacterially effective against many gram-positive and one gram-negative micro-organisms.” He also found a paste form of external application successful. According to the report; “from a study of 2,000 herbs by Czechoslovakian scientists it was found that cannabis indica was the most promising in the realm of antibiotics.” [-1972 National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse.]

1957: Drs. Chopra and Chopra, in their article “The Use of the Cannabis Drugs in India”, state; “with regard to the use of cannabis in Indian indigenous medicine at the present time, it may be said that it was and still is fairly extensively used in both the Ayurvedic (Hindu) and Tibb (Mohammedan) systems of medicine as an anodyne, hypnotic, analgesic and antispasmodic, and as a remedy for external application to piles. It is also used in the treatment of dysmennorhoea, rheumatism, chronic diarrhea of the sprue type, gonorrhea, malaria and mental diseases on the advice of itinerant practitioners of indigenous medicine as well as quacks who roam about the country. For medicinal purposes the drug is administered by mouth and hardly ever by smoking.” [-1972 National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse.]

1960: Krejci, Kabelik and Santavy include in “Cannabis as a Medicant” the various microorganisms against which cannabis is effective; “Proof could be furnished that the cannabis extracts produce a very satisfactory antibacterial effect upon the following microbes: staphylococcus pyogenes aureus, streptococcus alpha haemolyticus, streptococcus beta haemolyticus, enterococcus, diplococcus pneumonia, B. antracis, and corynebacterium diptheriae i.e., all of them gram-positive microorganisms. Noteworthy is the effect upon staphyloccus aureaus strains, which are resistant to penicillin and to other antibiotics.”

Kabelik reports that in Argentina “cannabis is considered a real panacea for tetanus, colic, gastralgia, swelling of the liver, gonorrhea, sterility, impotency, abortion, tuberculosis of the lungs and asthma…even the root-bark has been collected in spring, and employed as a fibrifuge, tonic, for treatment of dysentery and gastralgia, either pulverized or in form of decoctions. The root when ground and applied to burns is said to relieve pain. Oil from seeds has been frequently used even in treatment of cancer.”

Kabelik also notes; “In human therapy the best results have been obtained with the following medicaments combined with substances derived from cannabis: dusting powder together with boric acid, ointment, ear drops, alcohol solutions with glycerine, aqueous emulsions, dentin powder. The preparations mentioned above have been already tested clinically, and will eventually be made available for production.” [-1972 National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse.]

1971: Drs. Hepler and Frank report that cannabis reduces intraocular pressure by up to 30%, thus helping glaucoma patients. [-1972 National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse.]

1975: Dr. Donald Tashkin et al publishes an article in American Review of Respiratory Disease (Volume 112, 1975) which, Dr. Tashkin says “appear to support the benefit ascribed to the use of cannabis in the last century for the treatment of bronchial asthma.”

2001: Canada is the first nation to allow patients to legally use medical marijuana.

2009: Nearly 4,000 patients have successfully enrolled in Canada’s MMAR program.

Full historical time-line can be found here.

Van Isle Medical Marijuana

Medical Benefits of Marijuana

  • Relieves chronic pain from a variety of causes and reduces the need for addictive narcotic pain killers.
  • Increases appetite, relieves nausea and vomiting, reduces pain and helps patients sleep while undergoing chemotherapy.
  • Improves appetite, may reduce pain and helps HIV patients sleep.
  • May reduce brain and lung tumors and slow the growth of cancer, may stop breast cancer from spreading throughout the body.