Then and Now: A Brief History of Cannabis

Cannabis has a wide variety of uses and has been around since Ancient times. Hemp, a variety of the cannabis plant, was a very common agricultural crop. This variety of cannabis does not have the same mind-altering effects that marijuana has. During these ancient times, people would harvest the hemp for its high-protein seeds as well as use it for rope, clothes, food, and oil.

With the hundreds of uses of cannabis, it’s only natural that cannabis would be used for medicine. The use of cannabis for medicine originated in China and spread throughout Asia, the Middle East, and Africa.

As in today’s world, there were many misconceptions about cannabis. Doctor’s used to believe that using too much would cause people to see demons and advised their patients to avoid overuse. Cannabis was also used to treat poor memory, but today we know that method isn’t very effective.

In 200 A.D. a Chinese surgeon, Hua Tuo, was the first to use cannabis as an anesthetic during surgery. He would grind the plant into a powder and would mix it into the wine. The patient would then drink the wine before the surgery. The Chinese word for anesthesia, mázui, literally translates to “cannabis intoxication”.

 

When cannabis was introduced to North America, it was in the form of hemp and was used for oil, clothes, rope, bags, paper, etc. It wasn’t until many years later that it was brought to America as a medical and psychoactive drug.

In the early 1900s, the Food and Drug Administration was created. Morphine and opium were the main control focus at this time. There was very little focus on marijuana.

Marijuana was first introduced into America from Mexico. Even the word “marijuana” likely came from Mexico. Around this time, the recreational smoking of marijuana became popular and was largely associated with lower-class individuals.

 

By 1937, 23 states outlawed recreational marijuana usage. Medical marijuana was still used but it was greatly controlled. In the 1970s, marijuana was believed to have no accepted medical use, though this was untrue.

Today, medical marijuana usage is legal and states are even beginning to legalize the recreational usage. Marijuana is found to be helpful for many medical problems including chronic pain, multiple sclerosis, nausea, epilepsy, concussion, and Alzheimer’s disease. There are restrictions on the use and research of marijuana, but we are still finding new uses for the drug.

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