Is There Any Medical Potential for Marijuana?
Marijuana is one of the oldest cultivated plants (Nahas 8). Since it became illegal in 1967, there have been questions of whether or not it is good for purposes, such as medicine, other than being a leisure drug. Debates between pro and con groups for the use of marijuana in the medical profession, have been heated and in recent months, referendums have been pasted in a least three states to make it accessible for medical treatment. Personally, I feel that marijuana has the potential to be a significant help with certain aliments, however, more research needs to be done to maximize its potential.
According to Gabriel Nahas, the first people to introduce the potential healing properties of marijuana, were the Chinese. About five thousand years ago, the peoples of the plains of Central Asia, just of the north of the Himalayas, began cultivating the plant. Though it is not exactly certain what cultivation of the plant was for, whether it was for its oil, fiber or medical properties, most likely it was its fiber (11). The fiber of the plant is so strong that it can be used to make thick, sturdy ropes. Its seed also contains oil that can be used as a varnish. In some countries the seed is used as bird and cattle feed and also in the manufacturing of soap (9). And something else that might not be common knowledge is that the seeds can be roasted and eaten. It is actually the flowers of a certain type of the plant that is used for its medicinal and intoxicating property (9).
I say that the flower from a certain type of the plant because there is a common misconception that there is only one type of marijuana. Nahas reveals that marijuana is such a wild plant, that it easy adapts to any soil and new varieties then emerge. Now is when the plants with stronger fibers, superior oils, and a more potent drug content is selected. Only around 1000 BC, in India and Southeast Asia, when the plant started to grow in that region, the intoxicating features were introduced and appreciated (9).
So when was the plant introduced to the Western Hemisphere? There is archeological evidence that the plant was brought to Western Europe from Asia about 1500 BC, by the Scythian invaders and then later it reached the Mediterranean region (Nahas 9). However, the people of western Europe began cultivating it as a plant crop in their area about 500 AD for its fiber. When the plant first came to Europe, it was not introduced to all the countries. Nahas states that the rest of Europe only got to know about the plant around the Christian era. No signs or evidence suggests that Europeans used marijuana for intoxicating purposes (9).
Nahas book tells us that in the New World marijuana was introduced in the 16th century. It was brought over by both the Spanish and the British and in the Spanish settled areas of the New World, it was used for its fiber and its intoxicating properties were only discovered in the late 19th century. In the United States, it was used for the production of rope and cloth until the 20th century and now it is widely a drug used preferably for pleasure (8-9)
According to Nahas, it was about 1842, when an Irish physician, William O'Shaughnessy, who spent many years in India as a surgeon, introduced the Western world to the drug's medicinal properties (247). Though Dr. O'Shaughnessy used marijuana for many different aliments and diseases, he found it most helpful in the relief of pain. In his practice, he also found that the drug was most effective for convulsions occurring in rabies, rheumatism, tetanus, and epilepsy. It also seemed to be a help when it came to menstrual cramps and in the delivery room; helping with increasing uterine contractions and reducing childbirth pains (247). In more recent times, the National Institutes of Health-NIH has claimed that marijuana may be helpful in the alleviation of chemotherapy, to reduce nausea. The drug also helps in the stimulation of appetite and reduction of the loss of lean