The date October 19, 2009 was indeed a history-making event, since it was decided that the U.S. Justice Department would not pursue medical marijuana users who were in compliance with state law.  More states began to follow the trend, and eventually 13 states increased to 20 states that are already (or almost ready) to prescribe medical marijuana to symptomatic patients.

Early References

While a reason to celebrate for doctors and patients, the victory is also anticlimactic, considering that throughout history, marijuana has always been perceived as a healthy herb, capable of treating many diseases and pains.  As early as 2737 B.C., a character by the name of Emperor Shen Neng, was prescribing cannabis tea as a remedy for gout, malaria, and rheumatism in China.

In the book “Prehistoric Textiles: The Development of Cloth in the Neolithic and Bronze Ages with Special Reference to the Aegean”, it is said that as far back as the 1st millennium B.C., that the Chinese had a “knowledge of the narcotic properties of Cannabis” and even recognized it as having a “Ma” or numbing effect.

There are also references to cannabis in B.C. Egyptian writings (The Ebers Papyrus), and references in Indian literature, where cannabis is mentioned as a medical drug, capable of helping to alleviate gastrointestinal disorders, insomnia, and even headaches.

The Modern Age

As late as the 1800s, American medical journals were extolling the value of cannabis to treat inflammation, incontinence and even the symptoms of sexually transmitted diseases.  It was only by the end of the 1800s that the tide began to turn, as more doctors preferred morphine’s effects to that of cannabis.  The Food and Drug Administration was actually created shortly after 1906 in response to such events as the overprescribing of morphine.

By the 1950s and through the 1970s, cannabis was vilified in the media for commercial purposes and because of general ignorance.  Despite the heavy criticism of marijuana, studies were still being performed linking medical marijuana to certain health benefits, such as the relief of glaucoma (Palacky University of Olomouc in 1955) and even the relief of muscle spasms, caused by spinal injuries. This was a commonly observed in condition in war veterans and cannabis was shown to have pain-relieving properties.  The 1998 book “Is Marijuana the Right Medicine for You?: A Factual Guide to Medical Uses of Marijuana” details the study.  The drug has certainly received its share of recent controversies, and continues to do so.  However, according to the timeline, it is one of the most trusted natural remedies in human history.