The History Of Marijuana As Medicine

June 22, 2005

, KCBS - TV (San Francisco)

2737 BC -- Emperor Shen-Nung in China prescribes cannabis for beri-beri, constipation, 'female weakness,' gout, malaria, rheumatism and absentmindedness. 2000 BC -- In Egypt, cannabis is used to treat sore eyes.

1400 BC -- A Bronze Age drug trade supplied hashish and opium to ancient cultures throughout the eastern Mediterranean as balm for the pain of childbirth and disease.

1000 BC -- Cannabis use begins in India to overcome hunger and thirst by the religious mendicants.

1000 BC -- Bhang, a cannabis preparation (a drink, generally mixed with milk) is used as an anesthetic and anti-phlegmatic in India.

200 BC -- In ancient Greece, cannabis is used as a remedy for earache, edema, and inflammation.

200 AD -- A Chinese physician, Hoa-Tho, prescribes cannabis as an analgesic in surgical procedures.

800 AD -- Mohammed allows cannabis but forbids alcohol.

1000 AD -- Moslems produce hashish as medicine.

1621 -- The medical book The Anatomy of Melancholy by English clergyman Robert Burton claims cannabis is a treatment for depression.

pre-1700 -- Cannabis is used in Africa to restore appetite and to relieve pain of hemorrhoids. Its antiseptic uses are also known to certain African tribes. Various other uses, in a number of African countries, include the treatment of tetanus, hydrophobia, delirium tremens, infantile convulsions, neuralgia, cholera, menorrhagia, rheumatism, hay fever, asthma, skin diseases, and protracted labor during childbirth.

1763 -- The 'New English Dictionary' says cannabis root applied to skin eases inflammation.

1799 -- Napoleon’s army re-turns from Egypt with knowledge (and samples) of cannabis. The scientific members of Napoleon’s forces are interested in the drug’s pain relieving and sedative effects.

1839 -- William O'Shaughnessy, an Irishman working in the service of the British in India, writes the first modern English medical article on cannabis.

1850 -- Medical use of cannabis declines and cannabis begins to lose support of the medical profession as other medications, considered superior to cannabis in their effects and more easily controlled as to dose, come into wide use.

1854 -- The U.S. Dispensary of 1854 lists cannabis compounds as suggested remedies for a multitude of medical problems, including neuralgia, depression, hemorrhage, pain relief and muscle spasm.

1860 -- The Committee on Cannabis Indica of the Ohio State Medical Society is convened. The Committee reports that their respondents claimed cannabis successfully treated neuralgic pain, dysmenorrhea, uterine hemorrhage, hysteria, delirium tremens, mania, palsy, whooping cough, infantile convulsions, asthma, gonorrhea, nervous rheumatism, chronic bronchitis, muscular spasms, tetanus, epilepsy and appetite stimulation.

1893 -- India establishes the India Hemp Commission to examine the question of cannabis use in India. The Commission reports the use of cannabis as an analgesic, a restorer of energy, a hemostat, an ecbolic, and an anti-diarrhetic. Cannabis is also mentioned in the report as an aid in treating hay fever, cholera, dysentery, gonorrhea, diabetes, impotence, urinary incontinence, testicular swelling, granulation of open sores, and chronic ulcers. Other beneficial effects attributed to cannabis are prevention of insomnia, relief of anxiety, protection against cholera, alleviation of hunger and as an aid to concentration of attention.

1922 -- The Narcotic Drug Import and Export Act is passed by U.S. Congress. It is intended to eliminate use of narcotics except for legitimate medical use.

1938 -- The Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act is passed. The FDA is given control over drug safety, and the Act establishes a class of drugs available by Prescription.

1941 -- Marijuana is officially removed from the U.S. Pharmacopoeia.

1971 -- Drs. Hepler and Frank report that cannabis reduces intraocular pressure by up to 30%, thus helping glaucoma patients.

1972 -- Drs. Hepler, Frank and Ungerleider publishes a study in the American Journal of Ophthalmology which finds that the use of marijuana is associated with a decrease in intraocular pressure.

1976 -- American pharmaceutical companies successfully petition the federal government to be allowed to finance and judge 100% of marijuana research.

1976 -- A Washington, D.C. man (Robert Randall) afflicted by glaucoma employs the little-used Common Law Doctrine of Necessity to defend himself against criminal charges of marijuana cultivation (U.S. v. Randall). On November 24, 1976, federal Judge James Washington rules Randall's use of marijuana constitutes a 'medical necessity.'

1978 -- New Mexico state legislature passes HB 329, which authorizes a medical marijuana research program for patients with cancer chemotherapy and glaucoma.

1980 -- Georgia state legislature passes HB 1011, which authorizes a medical marijuana research program for patients with cancer and glaucoma.

1980 -- New York state legislature passes SB 1123-6, which authorizes a medical marijuana research program for patients with cancer and glaucoma and other life or sense threatening diseases.

1992 -- Jim Montgomery, a U.S. paraplegic who smokes cannabis to relieve muscle spasms, is arrested in Oklahoma for two ounces of marijuana. He is sentenced to life plus 16 years. It is later reduced to 10 years.

1996 -- California state agents raid the San Francisco Cannabis Buyers' Club. The next day, the club is ordered closed by Superior Court Judge William Cahill. The Club reportedly distributed marijuana beyond that used for medicinal purposes. The club's owner, Dennis Peron, makes news when he declares that 'all use [of marijuana] is medical.'

1996 -- Voters in Arizona (Proposition 200) and California (Proposition 215) approve initiatives endorsing the legal use of marijuana under a doctor’s supervision. Other states follow suit.

2002 -- Two medical marijuana users file suit against federal authorities 'in an effort to try to stop government raids on pot used by sick patients.' The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Oakland, argues U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft and Drug Enforcement Administration director Asa Hutchinson are violating the Fifth, Ninth and 10th amendments as well as a commerce clause by cracking down on medical marijuana use. Plaintiffs Angel McClary Raich of Oakland and Diane Monson of Oroville say they require medical marijuana to help ease the pain of their illnesses. Raich suffers from wasting syndrome, nausea and a brain tumor, and Monson endures chronic pain and spasms

2006 -- The Supreme Court rules against Raich and Monson.


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