A Brief History of Marijuana’s (Not-So-Brief) Use in Medicine

The history of medical marijuana in the U.S.

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Have you only recently heard about the beneficial effects of CBD and medical marijuana. Surprisingly, doctors and patients have used cannabis and its related products for medicinal purposes in the U.S. much longer than they have been prohibited. Let’s take a quick skip through 300 years of the wellness-related history of marijuana, as we look at how the medicinal plant has been part of the doctor’s toolkit.

The History of Medical Marijuana in the U.S.

We know that the Jamestown settlers introduced the marijuana plant to North America in 1611. The first recorded mention of the pharmacological use of marijuana comes from “The Anatomy of Melancholy,” published in 1621. In this book, the author describes it as a treatment for depression. 

The medicinal use of cannabis continued freely throughout the 17th and 18th centuries. In the 1800s, physicians, who regarded it no differently than any of the other products at their disposal, routinely prescribed it. By 1850, the official handbook of all medicines, the United States Pharmacopeia, fully recognized and classified it as a legitimate compound. Doctors prescribed it regularly for patients suffering from convulsive disorders, gout, neuralgia, tetanus, alcoholism, anthrax, and incontinence. Also, cannabis effectively treated for opiate addiction. They knew it even then.

History of Marijuana Prohibition

In the early 20th century, some states were beginning to prohibit marijuana production. However, we still produced over 60,000 pounds annually in the U.S., largely produced on farms owned by large pharmaceutical manufacturers. In 1930, at least three large companies—Eli Lily, Parke-Davis, and Grimault & Co.—sold standardized marijuana extract. Marijuana had been in regular use and production in North America for over 300 years at this point, but things were about to change.

The Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 criminalized the possession of cannabis without a prescription. The new laws and regulations made it increasingly difficult for physicians to prescribe cannabis, so its use rapidly declined. In 1942, it was removed from the United States Pharmacopeia, which was the last blow to its legitimacy as a medicinal compound.

Recent History Sets the Tone

Over the next 30 years, not only was marijuana no longer recognized for its beneficial qualities, it was classified as a Schedule 1 drug, which is defined as a drug with no medical value that is a real danger to public health. Because of this more recent prohibition, the history of marijuana in the U.S. is not well-known.

When President Nixon declared the War on Drugs in 1971, marijuana was one of the main targets of the government agencies that would merge to form the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). From there, marijuana continued to be viewed as a public menace until CBD-related products began to show that they could offer real relief to patients.

Medical Marijuana Makes a Comeback

Many people think that medical marijuana’s surge in popularity is an entirely new development, but it simply reaffirms a practice that was part of our country for centuries. It’s a shame that we lost decades of effective treatment for a variety of common conditions. However, now that it’s back, medical marijuana is returning to form as a powerful part of a holistic wellness plan. 

As a side note, anyone interested in the healing potential of marijuana could go back and look at the history of marijuana preserved in documents produced during those times when it was a trusted source of relief. It’s not only interesting reading, it’s a great way to regain some of the knowledge that used to be part of our everyday lives.

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Elevate Team

Elevate Team

Elevate Holistics is a telehealth platform focusing on getting people their medical marijuana cards and physician’s medical cannabis certifications / recommendations as simply and easily as possible. Today, Elevate Holistics operates in multiple states, has served thousands of HAPPY PATIENTS, and is innovating to provide doctors & patients a better medical marijuana evaluation experience.

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