What is Medical Marijuana?

Simply put, medical marijuana is pot that is used for medicinal purposes. There’s evidence that humans have cultivated and consumed cannabis since virtually the beginning of recorded history. It wasn’t long after stumbling across marijuana that humans discovered its potential in the medical field. 

In a 1974 publication of Economic Botany, botanist Hui-lin Li wrote that, “The use of cannabis in medicine was probably a very early development. Since ancient humans used hemp seed as food, it was quite natural for them to also discover the medicinal properties of the plant.”  

Weed in Ancient China

A Chinese surgeon from the second century AD, named Hua Tuo, used cannabis to make what is thought to have been the very first general anesthesia. The name of his concoction was mafeisan (麻沸散) which combines the terms ma (麻, meaning “cannabis”), fei (沸, meaning “boiling or bubbling”), and san (散, meaning “to break up or scatter”). So, literally, “cannabis boil powder”.

Cannabis in the Netherlands

A grave (dated 2459-2203 BCE) associated with the Bell Beaker Culture was discovered in 2007 and it had a ton of pollen inside of it. After studying the pollen, it was concluded that the pollen was mostly cannabis and another substance (meadowsweet) which is known for being good at reducing fevers. The assumption is that the person was very sick and cannabis was being used as a painkiller

Medical Marijuana in Other Ancient Cultures

From Greece to India to the medieval Islamic world, there is evidence to suggest that marijuana has been used to treat many ailments since, well, forever. The ancient Greeks used weed to treat wounds in their horses; from the 8th to the 18th centuries, Arabic doctors used weed for medicinal purposes citing its antiepileptic, diuretic, antiemetic, anti-inflammatory, analgesic and antipyretic properties; and surviving documents from ancient India note the use of cannabis to help with insomnia, headaches, gastrointestinal disorders, and pain. 

Weed and 19th Century Western Medicine

A physician named William Brooke O’Shaughnessy is credited with having introduced weed as medicine to the western world. He spent some time working in India, then in 1841, he returned to England and brought a bunch of weed back with him to prove it deserved attention for its medicinal uses (in particular, its analgesic and anticonvulsant effects). After that, news about marijuana’s medicinal properties got out to the western world. Weed as medicine remained popular until the end of the 19th century when we saw the popularity of synthetic and opium-derived drugs take hold of the medical world in cannabis’ place—and then there was prohibition. Thank goodness that’s over.   

Medical Marijuana Today

Though you may have heard that very few health authorities throughout the world recognize marijuana for its therapeutic use, several health and medical organizations in Canada and internationally support patient access to medical marijuana. You can find the extensive list here, but it includes Health Canada, the Canadian AIDS Society, and Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada.

Today, countries that have legalized medical use of cannabis include Argentina, Australia, Barbados, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Finland, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Lebanon, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malawi, Malta, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, North Macedonia, Norway, Panama, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Rwanda, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, San Marino, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Thailand, the United Kingdom, Uruguay, Vanuatu, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

The Safety of Medical Marijuana

Cannabinoids actually have an incredible safety record, especially when compared to conventional prescription drugs. One incredible nugget of knowledge (pun intended), is that, according to a WHO review paper, the consumption of marijuana — regardless of quantity or potency — does not and cannot induce a fatal overdose.

It’s also worth noting that the use of weed for therapeutic purposes is rarely associated with adverse side effects. A 2015 review of literature found that, “Among the average adult user the health risks associated with cannabis use are likely no more dangerous than many other indulgences, including… acetaminophen and downhill skiing.”

It All Comes Down to This

While we recognize that there is a lingering stigma amongst some medical professionals and despite some sources claiming that the effectiveness of marijuana remains somewhat unclear, it’s obvious to us at Acreage Pharms that marijuana has earned its place in the world of medicine. If we’re being real, pot has put in a lot more time and effort than most other pharmaceuticals. 

Between the rich and extensive history of marijuana’s use for medicinal purposes, plus the sheer number of actual humans throughout the world with first hand experience, we’re very confident in our assertion that weed is medicine. 

Reach out today to find out about our full range of medical marijuana options.

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