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Medical Marijuana - grinspoon history cannabis medicine

Medical Marijuana - grinspoon history cannabis medicine



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Published by: 420 on Sep 16, 2007
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DEA statement (Prepared for DEA Administrative Law Judge hearing beginningAugust 22, 2005, in which Prof. Lyle Craker, UMass Amherst, is using DEA for refusing to issue him a license to grow marijuana exclusively for federally-approved research, funded by a grant from MAPS.)
History of Cannabis as a MedicineBy Lester Grinspoon, M.D.,August 16, 2005
A native of Central Asia, cannabis may have been cultivated as much as 10,000years ago. It was certainly cultivated in China by 4000 B.C. and in Turkestan by3000 B.C. It has long been used as a medicine in India, China, the Middle East,Southeast Asia, South Africa, and South America. The first evidence of themedicinal use of cannabis is in an herbal published during the reign of theChinese Emperor Chen Nung 5000 years ago. It was recommended for malaria,constiipation, rheumatic pains, "absentmindedness" and "female disorders."Another Chinese herbalist recommended a mixture of hemp, resin, and wine asan analgesic during surgery. In India cannabis has been recommended toquicken the mind, lower fevers, induce sleep, cure dysentery, stimulate appetite,improve digestion, relieve headaches, and cure venereal disease. In Africa itwas used for dysentery, malaria, and other fevers. Today certain tribes treatsnakebite with hemp or smoke it before childbirth. Hemp was also noted as a
remedy by Galen and other physicians of the classical and Hellenistic eras, and itwas highly valued in medieval Europe. The English clergyman Robert Burton, inhis famous work
The Anatomy of Melancholy,
published in 1621, suggested theuse of cannabis in the treatment of depression. The
New English Dispensatory 
of 1764 recommended applying hemp roots to the skin for inflammation, aremedy that was already popular in eastern Europe. The
Edinburgh New Dispensary 
of 1794 included a long description of the effects of hemp and statedthat the oil was useful in the treatment of coughs, venereal disease, and urinaryincontinence. A few years later the physician Nicholas Culpeper summarized allthe conditions for which cannabis was supposed to be medically useful.But in the West cannabis did not come into its own as a medicine until the mid-nineteenth century. During its heyday, from 1840 to 1900, more than 100 paperswere published in the Western medical literature recommending it for variousillnesses and discomforts. It could almost be said that physicians of a centuryago knew more about cannabis than contemporary physicians do; certainly theywere more interested in exploring its therapeutic potential.The first Western physician to take an interest in cannabis as a medicine wasWB O'Shaughnessy, a young professor at the Medical College of Calcutta, whohad observed its use in India. He gave cannabis to animals, satisfied himself that it was safe, and began to use it with patients suffering from rabies,rheumatism, epilepsy, and tetanus. In a report published in 1839, he wrote that
he had found tincture of hemp (a solution of cannabis in alcohol, taken orally) tobe an effective analgesic. He was also impressed with its muscle-relaxantproperties and called it "an anticonvulsant remedy of the greatest value."O'Shaughnessy returned to England in 1842 and provided cannabis topharmacists. Doctors in Europe and the United States soon began to prescribe itfor a variety of physical conditions. Cannabis was even given to Queen Victoriaby her court physician. It was listed in the United States Dispensatory in 1854(with a warning that large doses were dangerous and that it was a powerful"narcotic"). Commercial cannabis preparations could be bought in drugstores.During the Centennial Exposition of 1876 in Philadelphia, some pharmacistscarried ten pounds or more of hashish.Meanwhile, reports on cannabis accumulated in the medical literature. In 1860,Dr. RR M'Meens reported the findings of the Committee on Cannabis Indica tothe Ohio State Medical Society. After acknowledging a debt to O'Shaughnessy,M'Meens reviewed symptoms and conditions for which Indian hemp had beenfound useful, including tetanus, neuralgia, dysmenorrhea (painful menstruation),convulsions, the pain of rheumatism and childbirth, asthma, postpartumpsychosis, gonorrhea, and chronic bronchitis. As a hypnotic (sleep-inducingdrug) he compared it to opium: "Its effects are less intense, and the secretionsare not so much suppressed by it. Digestion is not disturbed; the appetite rather increased;... The whole effect of hemp being less violent, and producing a more

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