Cultural History of Legal Cannabis Use

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A cultural history of legal cannabis use provides a solid foundation upon which to build our understanding of current cannabis regulations. As a result of knowing that cannabis has played a beneficial role in the lives for thousands of years, we can start to unpack why such heavy regulations surround it today.

 

Historical use of cannabis

The cannabis plant originated in Central Asia 4700 years ago. A number of societies have known about its medicinal properties for centuries.1https://www.livescience.com/48337-marijuana-history-how-cannabis-travelled-world.html 2 https://www.shopbotanist.com/a-brief-history-of-cannabis/

For example, a notable, historical cannabis user includes Queen Victoria who employed cannabis for relief from menstrual cramps.

Cannabis works synergistically with the human body. Moreover, users continue to report pain relief, reduction psychological trauma, and increased opportunities for creativity and peaceful human connections.

Cannabis pharmacopeia in the United States  

U.S. pharmacopeia included cannabis from 1850-1942. Consequently, physicians could prescribe it in extract (tincture) form.3Julie Holland, M.D.: The Pot Book: A Complete Guide to Cannabis. Park Street Press, 2010.   Cannabis prescriptions addressed headaches, depressed appetites, and sleep issues.

What changed?

Due to prohibition and the most recent end of our cultural history of legal cannabis use, much of research and discovery about cannabis’ medicinal properties has occurred outside of the U.S. There amount of information discover about its power and efficacy feels endless!  Decriminalizing cannabis would help scientists and the medical community expand their research. For instance, they may better understand how cannabis can be complementary, and even more effective, than current approaches to common and complex ailments.

The Importance of Cannabis Research

In the 1960s, Israeli doctor Raphael Mechoulam made significant discoveries about how cannabis affects the body. He isolated, synthesized, and identified tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive compound derived from the cannabis plant. Isolating THC led to discovery4https://science.sciencemag.org/content/168/3936/1159 of an “endocannabinoid system” within the human body. The endocannabinoid system received its name directly from the plant that prompted its discovery.  The endocannabinoid system is a series of neuromodulatory lipids and their receptors that are found throughout the human body: in the brain, organs, connective tissues, glands, and immune cells.5https://norml.org/marijuana/library/recent-medical-marijuana-research/introduction-to-the-endocannabinoid-system/   This system performs different tasks. As a result, it achieves the consistent goal of homeostasis within the body.

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