The time has come for medical marijuana, also known for its scientific name Cannabis, to take the limelight as a curative agent. In the past, this plant was forbidden for public consumption because it was considered addictive. However, as a natural plant or herb, the world is now on the verge of accepting marijuana’s healing abilities that can cure different kinds of illnesses and ailments.
Cannabis as a Curative Agent: The Start of Discovery
Medical marijuana is not new at all. Marijuana has been known as stoners’ and hippies’ psychedelic drug, even if it is an herb in nature, in the 1970s. Smoking too much of it leads to the impairment of cognitive abilities because it is classified as an anti-depressant drug. Nevertheless, this notoriety of marijuana is mitigated by its plant source – cannabis – which has been medically used for thousands of years.
According to records, medical marijuana was first discovered in China. Emperor Shen Neng was the first to prescribe cannabis tea in 2737 B.C. The plant was concocted into curative mixtures for pain, hematoma, hair loss, constipation, tapeworms, malaria, gout, dysfunctional memory, and rheumatism.
People from ancient India in 2000 to 1400 B.C. employed marijuana for recreational, medical, spiritual, and religious purposes. Bhang, a cannabis drink, was believed to have the abilities to heal sunstroke, phlegm, dysentery, indigestion, lack of appetite, listlessness, and low intellect.
Smoking hashish, the Arab term for marijuana, was very popular in the Middle Ages. Medieval Greeks included cannabis in their encyclopedia, the Vienna Dioscurides. Jaundice, cough, tumors, incontinence, skin inflammation, nausea, and rheumatism were said to be suppressed by medical marijuana from the Medieval to the Modern Ages.
The Mexican immigrants introduced marijuana to the United States in the 20th century. As per the records, the same Mexican immigrants coined the term “marijuana.” Smoking cannabis, however, was reckoned to be an unacceptable activity by the majority.
From 1914 to 1937, several laws were enacted, making recreational and the non-medical use of marijuana illegal. Marijuana started to become restricted and invalid for medicinal use by the government in the 1970s. It was classified as a “Schedule 1” drug together with other prohibited drugs.
In 2015, 23 US states have legalized medical marijuana. However, it was only obtainable by epileptic children and patients with HIV/AIDs, cancer, Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and Parkinson’s disease.
Cannabis Legalization vs. Pharmaceutical Industry
Although medical marijuana has officially gained ground as a valid medical treatment nationwide since 2015, it has its set of detractors – the pharmaceutical sector. These companies are reported to be losing revenue in the United States where medical cannabis programs are instituted. The pain medication is said to have suffered the most with strikingly 1,826 fewer doses in cannabis-approved states. Sharp nosedives in the number of physician-prescribed medication strikingly tell that cannabis is threatening the pharmaceutical industry.
While a lot of people are enjoying the medical benefits of cannabis, Insys Therapeutics, an Arizona-based pharmaceutical firm, is one of the big pharmaceutical companies opposing medical marijuana. To voice out their protest against the medicinal plant, the company donated $500,000 in 2016 to Arizona residents to support fellow anti-cannabis group Responsible Drug Policy. Ironically, while Insys believes that marijuana is dangerous, they are also the manufacturer of the more hazardous drug, fentanyl. This just proves that they have a vested interest in their pursuit of opposing marijuana legislation in Arizona.
Cannabis: A Potential Antidote to Opioid Dilemma
The opioid crisis started in the late 1990s when pharmaceutical and healthcare providers gave wrongful reassurance to the public that the latter would not become addicted to prescription opioid painkillers. This led to widespread misuse and excessive prescription of heroin, powerful synthetic opioid fentanyl, and other prescription opioids. As of 2015, based on statistics gathered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, opioid overdose already caused a total of 33,000 American deaths.
Given the alarming impact of the opioid national emergency to the populace, multitudinous drug-makers like Nemus Bioscience, Intec Pharma, and Axim Biotechnologies are taking the initiative to develop marijuana-based painkillers. With the aim to rescue opioid-dependent patients who are chronically suffering, a growing number of sophisticated cannabis-based curative products are now available across 29 US states including Washington, D.C.
The Future of Medical Cannabis
The myriad of ongoing studies and development of cannabis-based products have proven the genuinely therapeutic nature of medical cannabis. In addition, the longstanding use of the plant as a curative agent can attest its medicinal potential.
The pharmaceutical industry is apparently under attack, especially its revenue-building activities, by the potential of medical cannabis to supplant its products. To compensate for this ongoing loss, pharmaceutical companies need to adapt to the changes surrounding drug-making. Discoveries also show that medical cannabis can alleviate debilitating illnesses and disorders, such as schizophrenia, fractures, intense seizures, brain tumors, and migraines. So why oppose this “miracle plant”?
The debate regarding the legalization of marijuana may come to an end as more studies confirm the healing nature of the plant. Although still classified as a “Schedule 1” drug by the Drug Enforcement Administration, it is only a matter of time when medical marijuana becomes widely accepted as a wonder cure that can give solutions to the world’s worst health problems including cancer.