A brief history of cannabis

The ability of extracts of the hemp plant (Cannabis sativa) to cause a variety of medicinal effects unrelated to its psychoactive properties had been recognized as early as the third millennium BC, when Chinese texts described its usefulness in the relief of pain and cramps (Mechoulam, 1986). In ancient India, the anxiety-relieving effect of bhang (the Indian term for marijuana ingested as food) had been recorded more than 3000 years ago.

The use of cannabis or hashish as a psychoactive substance reached Europe and the Americas through the Arab world in the 19th century. During the same period, cannabis extracts had gained widespread use for medicinal purposes until 1937, when concern about the dangers of abuse led to the banning of marijuana for further medicinal use in the United States.

Cannabis is understudied as a medication. Most of the research conducted on cannabis by federally funded studies uses very different product from what is being produced in medically legal states. All the cannabis grown by the government for research is grown at one facility and the plants that they are cultivating have very low THC percentages and trace to no CBD.

Research of cannabis as medication varies widely, and some internet information sources can be misleading. About 2% of doctors in the United States have working medical knowledge of cannabis as a medicine. Generally speaking, patients are working with doctors and dispensaries to create the appropriate medical routine.

This guide is written to help patients understand the compounds and effects of medical cannabis and provide a greater understanding of the uniqueness of the product.