Cannabis: The New Miracle Medicine?

Who would’ve ever thought that a recreational (and illegal) drug that made Cheech and Chong famous in the 1970s would be touted as a miracle cure for certain medical conditions in the 2000s? What could’ve happened in the ensuing 40 years to change the infamous Mary Jane from a public health threat to a ray of hope for cancer treatments, pain management, and more?

What happened was that the public got smarter, and less susceptible to propaganda, and medical researchers got braver and more assertive.  We’ve come a long way from the ridiculous mindset of “Reefer Madness”. New research has shown that at least some of the components in the Cannabis sativa plant, commonly referred to as marijuana, may be effective in the treatment of tumors, some cancers, chronic pain, spasms and seizures, and psychoses. Clinical trials are underway at this moment studying the use of pure cannabinoid, marketed under the brand name Epidiolex, in the treatment of epileptic seizures in children. A whole new class of possible medical treatments may be possible, as soon as the US government gives up it’s Neanderthal views on marijuana.

It wasn’t always so in America. One of the dirty little secrets that they keep out of the history books is that Americas first colony, in 1619, by decree of King James I, used hemp (the other common name for Cannabis) as their main cash crop for export to Europe. Hemp was (and still is, outside the U.S.) used to make the best ropes in the world, as well as great clothing, and paper. It was also used as medicine. Here is a fact that will pin most American History teacher’s ears back. George Washington, the Father of our Country, grew Cannabis as his main crop at Mt. Vernon. Bet they didn’t teach you that in High School.

Cannabis started to be regulated in the U.S. in the latter half of the 19th century. Free Negroes, and  former slaves were not allowed in white bars, and in many cases were prohibited from drinking at all, so many turned to an alternative way to get a ‘buzz’, by smoking marijuana, brought into the country mostly by Mexican immigrants. Many white politicians seized upon this as a way to get elected, and demonized marijuana as a drug that caused “racially inferior” men to lose control and rape white women, and turned women into instant harlots. By the 1920s marijuana had been outlawed everywhere in the US, even for medical use.

Fast forward to the 21st century. Bigotry in any form is socially unacceptable, and political suicide for anyone in the public’s eye. The internet has exposed government lies and half-truths, and perhaps for the first time in the US, the truth is actually available to the general public, which of course, means hardly anyone believes anything the government says anymore. We now know that cannabis is not the demon weed we were taught that it was. Researchers are now doing actual research on the medical qualities of Cannabis, and are coming up with interesting results. Many states have legalized limited use of cannabis, in defiance of the federal government.

With the discovery of receptors in the brain that respond favorably to cannabis, in the 1960s, we have greatly expanded out knowledge of disease, and how the components of marijuana can be used for new treatments. There are over 100 compounds in marijuana, known as cannabaniods, that have pharmacological effects on the body. The compounds that get you ‘high’ are THCs. These are removed from the other cannabaniods in order to produce pharmaceuticals that will not get you ‘stoned’.  Recent studies indicate that cannabiniods can be effective treatments for tumors, cancers, seizures, and many other medical conditions.

Several companies have already started producing products from cannabis, in anticipation of legalization, which is almost certain to be in the near future. These products show promise for sufferers of many medical conditions that have not responded well to conventional medical protocols.

The future looks bright for medical marijuana.



The diverse CB1 and CB2 receptor pharmacology of three plant cannabinoids: Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol, cannabidiol and Δ9-tetrahydrocannabivarin”; R G Pertwee: Br J Pharmacol. Jan 2008;153(2): 199–215

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